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Get started with writing your first song on the guitar

By Jennifer Barlow, Guitar Tuition East London



A lot of guitar players feel the prospect of writing their own songs taunting.

Or even if you are an experienced guitar player, you may find this exercise refreshing for those moments when you have a writers’ block to develop a new song.

We are going to turn writing a song into a game.

How are we going to do this?

By experimenting with chords in a way that means you are not confined by your own ears.

You are going to use your ears afterwards to test out your experiment.

A new fun game for writing your next song


First, write out the following chords:

C, Dm, Em, F, G, Am

And label them with 1-6 next to it like so:


C Dm Em F G Am
1 2 3 4 5 6


Now we are going to play the game of coming up with sequences of numbers and write down any 4 numbers from above.

Eg. 1 5 3 4

Eg. 5 1 6 6

Write at least 10 of them down.

Now put the chords back into them and play through your new chord progressions.

Put a star next to any you really like to develop them further.

With your strumming or fingerpicking skills, try to add personality to these chord progressions.

How are they sounding now?
If those chord progressions still need a little something, you can have these two little options to help you:

Start with 1 and end of 5

1 _ _ 5

Or start with the 6 and end with the 3

6 _ _ 3

Try to see what you come up with to go in between those two chords and experiment with those.

Use your ears to really tell which you enjoy and you can even switch out chords to hear how that changes the feel of the song.

Repeat chord progressions with different strumming patterns or fingerpicking, and rotate between 2 or 3 chord progressions to develop different sections of a song.

Changing the key of the song


If you are more advanced and understand why those chords were used, you can place your own chords into the boxes for 1-6 to try this out for different keys.

Or if you are a beginner playing open chords, you can try using a capo to change the overall pitch of the song as well.

This is especially useful if you are singing with your playing and want to change the pitch of the song.

Taking this exercise further


To take this one step further, try to use your own chords for the chord progressions. Whether they are barre chords, triads etc. and even chords you have created yourself.

And if you are more advanced, you can add embellishments like sus chords or 7ths into the chords and listen to how that sounds as well.

This game is endless, and hope you have found it fun enough to call it a game instead of an exercise!

As your ear develops and your music theory improves, it’s still fun to go back to the basics to see what we can come up with and build a song from experimental foundations.

About Guitar Tuition East London : Full of an enthusiastic team of amazing guitar teachers and staff who help support their guitar students to learn guitar. Beyond the basics and methodic technique, they help them develop musicianship and confidence in their guitar playing. Based in London, England, they are passionate about helping guitarists who love music to develop their guitar playing into a lifelong skill that they can share with those around them.