What to do when all your songs sound the same
If you feel like all of your songs are starting to sound exactly the same then chances are you might have found a process that worked really well with one song, and then you might have kept writing more songs the same way, but now you look back and see that all of the songs that you wrote sound exactly the same.
We’re going to cover some tips that are going to help you make each song sound different and unique.
Tip #1: Switch up different songwriting elements
This tip is going to have a few parts to it. We’re going to look into switching up different songwriting elements to help each song get some variety.
- Song structure
This might seem kind of obvious but, you don’t want to use the same song structure for every song.
As you start to get a bit more experienced in songwriting you can get into more interesting structures such as making songs without choruses or songs where the chorus is more a lyrical hook instead of a specific chord progression with a set vocal melody on it. An example that comes to mind would be “The Sound of Silence” by Simon and Garfunkel. Most songs would have a specific 3 or 4 chord progression with a vocal melody repeating the words “The sound of silence” repeating a minimum of 3 times throughout the song. However the hook (“chorus”) in this song is just the phrase “The sound of silence”.
Another option to switch up the song structure could be to have an instrument doing a melodic hook instead of having a vocal chorus that repeats throughout the song. This is more common in instrumental music where the “chorus” would be the motif of the song, but even if you sing for most of your song you could try adding a chorus (or even post-chorus) that is an instrument melody instead of vocals.
Likewise you can add or remove pre choruses and post choruses, you can add instrumental breaks, rhythmic breaks, or you can even add or subtract measures or do half measures which can all give a twist to each section of the song as you repeat it the second or third time.
Most songs that are considered hit singles are between 120 bpm and 130 bpm but that doesn’t mean that all of your songs have to stick to that. You can go faster, slower or if you want to go for bonus points you can even switch tempos from one section of a song to another section of a song. This could be a big dramatic change like 10+ bpm’s or something as little as 3-5 bpm’s, which helps give a slight feeling of rushing or a laid back sound. If you’re tasteful about how you use tempos this can really add to your songwriting. Try to use a live performance as your reference though. The last thing you want is for you to choose a tempo that doesn’t translate well from the studio to live.
- Tonalities or harmonies
At the beginning it’s convenient and easy to stick to major and minor songs, but once you master that, you could mess around with writing a song in a mode of major or minor (or any other scale). For example you could make a song that is in a mode of the harmonic minor.
Writing music that follows modes instead of just major and minor all the time can really help to switch up your sound from one song to another.
- Textures and use of instruments and effects
If you look at your songs and notice that you’re favoring an instrument on most of them maybe you can help give the spotlight to some of the other instruments to switch things up a bit. You can also look at the effects that you’re using on each instrument and maybe switch things up by adding more delay or distortion or clean tones in some of your songs vs others.
Tip #2: Create memorable moments
Every song that you write should have its own memorable moment and this can be anything from a sudden transition to a solo, vocal hook or vocal melody. It just needs to be something that makes it sound unique from one song to the other.
For example you can use sudden transitions from one part of a song to another, where everything just dramatically changes (textures, tempo, harmony, etc), and that can be the memorable moment that makes it sound unique from your other songs that don’t have such a drastic transition.
Have in mind that your memorable moments don’t always have to be vocal melodies or instrumental lines. A sudden transition can be the memorable moment, a rhythmic break, an ambient section, a solo in any of your instruments, etc. There’s really a lot to choose from so you don’t have to get stuck on always making your memorable moments hooks from vocal melodies or instrument melodies.
Tip #3: Vary the concepts of your songs
You could look at each of your songs like its own little world. Each song can have a different concept or theme that it revolves around. This can help one song sound unique from the next.
Likewise you can create a theme or a concept for the entire album and each song can be a chapter in that. This can help your songs from one album sound unique compared to the songs from the next album
Tip #4: Switch up lyrical content
If there’s something that you’re really passionate about which you constantly write lyrics around, it can be pretty easy to just stick with that one topic, and that is ok. But, that means you’re going to need to think of different angles for that topic because if you’re always writing about one thing then your songs might start to sound the same. If this applies to you then try exploring many topics because this can help you be a bit more rounded in the things that you talk about.
You can also switch between telling stories and describing things, emotions, or moments.
Tip #5: Exchange elements from different music genres
This one is very fun. One example is to write rhythms or harmonies that are common in different types of music genres such as incorporating Latin rhythms into your music or elements of jazz or maybe even EDM.
The trick here is to mix in something different with what you already have and that can help each of your songs sound unique from each other. Maybe one song can have more electronic synthesizers or another song can focus on using rhythmic elements from Latin music.
Different genres have different elements to them whether in rhythm, harmony, or even instruments used. You can reapply some of these in other styles of music.
Bonus Tip: Write on a different instrument or tuning
You’ll find that when you try to make a song on other instruments, each instrument has its own vibe. It’s almost like speaking a different language. You can use this to your advantage by writing each song in a different instrument.
For example, if you play guitar maybe you can write one song with your guitar and then you can write the next song on bass. That way the root idea from each song comes from a different instrument. This will completely change your focus and your perception of the song which will help you write each song from a different mindset.
Likewise another thing that really helps a lot of people out is changing the tuning of your instrument. This is great because it throws off any kind of pattern that you’re used to in that instrument and helps you write more by ear than habit.
I know that sometimes it’s easy to get stuck in your songwriting. I hope that these tips can help you to see that there are a lot of options when it comes to songwriting. There are many ways you can try to make one song different from the other and it’s normal if at one point you feel like all your songs start to sound the same. The important thing to do then is to just start trying something new. Maybe it won’t sound good at first and it might take you a while to figure it out but at one point you need new information to do something different.
You can’t just stay stuck on the same thing that you’ve tried in the past because it’s going to give you the same result that you have been getting. So try something new, switch things up, and don’t be afraid to take inspiration from new places.