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I usually write new songs starting with a free backtrack. Then I imagine which words and melodies can go with it and in that way it's pretty easy to write a new song. Finally I can sing them at open mics.

However, now I started writing some beautiful lyrics for which I don't have any music yet. I would like to add the music, but I don't play any instruments myself.

What's the best way to transform my lyrics into music by myself, without the support of other musicians?

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    The obvious answer seems to be... you'll have to become a musician! – topo morto Apr 18 at 12:31
  • I struggle to understand the question. If you're not a musician and you don't want to work with one then putting your lyrics to music seems a strange ambition. – PeterJ Jun 19 at 12:26
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There are various software packages that let you create chords (harmony) and apply drum tracks (rhythm). Some are free - depending on the level of sophistication you want.

If you look at common song structures (verse, chorus, bridge), and have good lyrics and phrasing, you can experiment with adding the above.

Just look up common chord progressions (e.g. I IV V). As you experiment, you will learn which chord progressions provide the harmony and feelings you want behind your lyrics.

If you sing the lyrics - your voice is the melody. Everything can become more sophisticated as you add other instruments and musicians, but you can start with something very simple.

These are all the pieces you need, in order of priority: melody (lyrics), rhythm, harmony.

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    The OP says they aren't a musician. How is telling them about I IV V going to help? – Michael Curtis Apr 18 at 13:43
  • Understanding I IV V is very simple, and takes only a bit of theory. Playing a musical instrument requires hundreds or thousands of hours of investment. The OP is asking how to bypass that huge investment and understand/create musical ideas. – Paul Apr 18 at 15:48
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    Yes, they can look it up, but what they find won't be meaningful to them. The OP's purpose isn't music appreciation it's composing. "...without investing the rigor of learning to play..." Except for a few unusual people, this approach won't work. – Michael Curtis Apr 18 at 16:27
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...but I don't play any instruments myself. What's the best way to transform my lyrics into music by myself, without the support of other musicians?

It seems like your question is straight forward, but there are some details left out.

You said "other musicians." Other than who? Do you mean yourself as a musician? You said you don't play an instrument. Can you sing? Do you plan to become a musician for the sake of setting your lyrics to music on your own?

If you want to compose chords for your songs, the typical instruments to use are piano or guitar. Learning to "comp" some chords to support your singing isn't too difficult. It depends on your motivation, but you could get up to speed with comping at a basic level on either instrument in 1 year.

If you don't want to bother with piano or guitar, I think you still need to be able to sing. At a minimum you need to be able to make a melody for your words and you could do that alone by singing.

If you only sing the melody, you could use various apps to add accompaniment, the bass, drums, chords, etc. There are impressive apps available. Some can even automatically harmonize from only a vocal part. You might find digital tools to fit your need.

In the end, if you cannot find a way to set your lyrics to music on your own, just remember this: you can always call yourself a lyricist. You would be in good company with Ira Gershwin, Hammerstein, Taupin, and many others.

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I would suggest that the easiest way for you to compose music to your lyrics would be to get an electric keyboard that has built-in rhythms and single finger chord ability. There are many models available in different price ranges that can do this.

If your verses don't match a specific rhythm that the keyboard contains you could use the basic metronome function to keep the beat steady.

The single finger chords basically play a full chord for each key you hit. You would then play some of the keys, listening to the chord and trying out your lyrics against the chords. Experimenting with changing the chord at different times during your verses will let you develop what changes you think sounds best. With enough repetition you can settle in on chord changes and what melody you want.

Many of the keyboards have a recording function, allowing you to save your creation. Once you have a progression figured out, the keyboard layout is simple enough to figure out what chord names you ended up playing, and some of the keyboards are USB enabled and able to export a chart for you.

You could even use the keyboard live this way for your open mic adventures, and working with the chord changes can open you up to starting to learn the music theory behind what you are doing, and how to start creating the chords on the keyboard yourself to expand the range of sounds and tones available to you to compose with.

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You can't write valid songs (which include reasonable chord progressions, countermelodies, etc) if you don't know music theory. Being able to play an instrument, especially piano, is extremely helpful so you can get instantaneous feedback as you compose. But in this modern world :-) , you could use a MIDI translator or sheetmusic-to-sound app to play back your draft compositions.

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    'Backing tracks, open mic.', bit of a clue it's not 'serious music'! – Tim Apr 18 at 13:08
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    "Valid songs" - what the heck is that supposed to mean? And tons of successful musicians have written hits without knowing music theory. – Todd Wilcox Apr 18 at 13:31
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    Kurt Cobain: junkphilosopher.wordpress.com/2014/04/29/… "I don’t know the names of chords to play. I don’t know how to do major and minor chords on a guitar at all. I couldn’t even pass Guitar 101. Folk Guitar 101. Everyone knows more than I do. …I never learned how to read the music. I just copied the other people that took the time to learn how to read" – Todd Wilcox Apr 18 at 18:02
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    Oh yeah, I tried to watch DeadMau5's masterclass on masterclass.com and he definitely knows zero music theory. I couldn't keep watching it. He literally just clicks around until it sounds good. I can't link to it because it's paywalled. Watching Timbaland's class now and he just sings each layer into a mic. He has assistant producers who seem to know scales and stuff, but his original beats were just instinct and linking what he was playing to what he heard. It's alleged that he was/is "afraid" to learn about music theory. – Todd Wilcox Apr 18 at 18:18
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    Academy Award winner Vangelis: "I don’t know any theory. Knowing the theory does not mean anything." nemostudios.co.uk/vangelis/interviews/covermag/interviews.htm How many citations would you like? – Todd Wilcox Apr 18 at 18:28
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Do you really believe that in our days it is still possible to write or “invent” a melodic motif or a chord progression that has not been used already 100 of times.

I can only smile when songwriters claim some songs as their own compositions ...

So you can easily and with no problem take existing phrases and mix them together like pieces of a puzzle. I know there is software where you can paste bars of existing wave models and create chords and tunes that will fit to your lyrics.

(I don’t know but there’s one called “music maker” ...)

If you ask me: making music is to play an instrument! And a good song is a good mindful text with a good attractive tune with usual harmonies and an exciting, heart touching performance.

Edit: Since Sgt. Pepper’s Lonely Hearts Club Band I have never heard again a similar new pop composition.

https://www.arte.tv/de/videos/078719-000-A/sgt-pepper-live-in-der-pariser-philharmonie/

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