Sometimes when I listen to a song, especially in foreign language, I get inspired by its atmosphere, and write some great lyrics.


Are there any tips or techniques on how to compose a new, original song, based on a certain atmosphere?

I guess using the same chords would be a start, but how to create a new singing melody as awesome as original, yet different?

  • 1
    While I don't have an answer, you may be interested to know that "It's the Same Old Song" by the Four Tops, and written by Holland-Dozier-Holland was based on another song written by them, "I Can't Help Myself (Sugar Pie Honey Bunch)" - en.wikipedia.org/wiki/It%27s_the_Same_Old_Song. Listening to those 2 songs and the (same) chord progressions may provide some insight.
    – DougRisk
    Dec 26, 2017 at 19:04

2 Answers 2


One might start with the chords though with so many pieces using common chord sequences (12 bar blues, passamezzo modern, cycle of fifths, etc.) that may not provide enough information. Most of these have been used for centuries. The rhythmic structure often contributes to a song's feel.

One thing to do is listen that song and other similar songs to see what they have in common that provides the feel you like. Then try imitating parts of one with parts of others until you get something you like.

I'll give a trivial example. When trying to figure out how to write a rumba (for American or International) ballroom dancing, I examined the following songs: "Siboney" Nina Mouskouri, "Beautiful Maria of my Soul" Antonio Banderas, "Te Quiero" Mestizzo. "Harlem Nocturne" Mantovani, and "Miami Beach Rumba" Irving Fields. These cover about 70 years of composing and with different styles. I also checked other songs by the same singers (and composers) to see how what I was interested in related to other pieces.

It helps to copy out the score to the songs you like because then you see the structure from a different point of view fro just listening.


It's easier to compose a song based on another song, set of songs, or in the style of a specific composer/album/etc. Listen to the music you want to compose in the style of (many examples if you can) so you figure out their typical chord progressions, rhythmic patterns, accompaniment patterns, instrumentation, etc. Then, use those in your new composition (well, the instrumentation is optional). Make sure that you do not use their melodies or you'll either need to point out the use of those melodies every time you publish the composition or be accused of plagiarism. Even worse, if their melody isn't in the public domain and people are not allowed to publish derivative works from it (hint: assume that any melody published after 1923 meets those dire requirements, according to US copyright law, unless the melody explicitly says otherwise), your published piece may be removed from the public eye anyway regardless of how many times you admit the origin of the melody. Rule of thumb: if you recognize the melody fragment from any piece of music you've ever listened to, don't use it.

For composing to fit a certain atmosphere, I recommend writing music--and listening to the music you compose--until your music evokes the atmosphere you desire. It's definitely more by feel than composing in a certain style.

Your Answer

By clicking “Post Your Answer”, you agree to our terms of service, privacy policy and cookie policy

Not the answer you're looking for? Browse other questions tagged or ask your own question.