Ed Sheeran is an artist with definite differences in his sound from album to album. Many fans will probably have an opinion of which era they enjoy most. Throughout the evolution of his sound, many of his writing quirks have stayed the same and continue to define what makes a song uniquely his. Here are a few things you can try to write a song like Ed Sheeran.
Uses Melody-Based or Moving Accompaniment
There are a few examples of songs where Sheeran doesn’t do this, but more often than not, he chooses to write an accompaniment that presents a clear melody. When he doesn’t have a melody, his accompaniment is almost always moving in eighth notes/strumming (not static chords).
Descend Chorus Melodies
Many songs of Sheeran’s tend to have Chorus melodies that descend, either starting from a higher note or jumping from a low note to a higher one, descending afterward.
Sheeran has a style of shortening notes in his lines. Every time he does that, he ends the last syllable of his word on a staccato, often on the first beat of the bar, and ascends just a little bit for that note. The effect is a light surprise.
Long Verse Melodic Phrases
Like many folk-inspired songwriters, Sheeran does not always repeat melodies in his Verses (right away). He has several songs where the entire Verse stanza is one entire melodic phrase, then repeats the melody in another Verse stanza. Unlike his Choruses…
Follows the Rule of Two in Choruses
Almost every single one of his Choruses presents a melody and repeats it straightaway. He then changes it, adhering to the Rule of Two, which often makes his songs quite catchy.
We learn about call-and-response melodies in the very beginning of musical study, often because they are so popular in nursery rhymes. Sheeran uses this technique liberally: he ends his first line on a note that isn’t the tonic note (or home note), then ends the second line on the tonic note. This is a great technique that makes his songs singable.
Doesn’t Shy Away from Rapping
Sheeran is known for bringing rapping into his singer/songwriter or folk-pop style. When he isn’t rapping, he will sometimes throw in a phrase of rap-singing or just a fast succession of notes together for interest.
Using the tools
No one should copy other writers exactly (plagiarism is not encouraged!). When your song is calling for something a little more catchy, singable or heartfelt, try out the tools that Ed Sheeran often uses.