Songwriting Exercise: Write a Song on a Loop

This exercise is for the very traditional songwriter. You might be a traditional songwriter if you write using an instrument, change the chords every song section, approach songwriting from a storytelling angle and tend to use a notebook to write things down. Being a traditional songwriter means you have a great songwriting process but sometimes, you might want to try something new.

Much like toplining, writing to a loop means you are writing an entire song to one melodic or harmonic phrase, which can be however long you want. In practicality, songwriters might change this loop for different song sections or re-harmonize it, but for the exercise, I implore you to try writing to a loop. If you’re having trouble writing around a melodic loop, check out some tips here.

The rules:

You must use the same loop for the entire song

The only way you can transition to the next section is either by pausing the loop. Either pause it entirely for silence or hold out the last chord.

This might seem a bit strict, but here are some tips to get you started.

1. Write a harmonic loop: the same chord progression for the entire song.

2. Write a melodic loop: the same riff/melody for the entire song (and the implied chords).

3. Try recording your loop and using an app or DAW to loop the recording as you write.

4. Pay attention to your melodies: what direction are they going in? Which beat of the bar do they start? How can you change your melodies from section to section so they don’t all sound the same?

5. Pay attention to how long your melodic phrases are in relation to your loop. Are you using half the loop for the Chorus melody, making the actual lyric pretty short? What if you use the entire loop for your Verse melody and make it longer?

6. Change up how many lines your Verse is in relation how many lines your Chorus is.

Good luck! 🙂


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