Songwriter Exercise 6 - Songwriting Notation
Compose Your Song
Using Meter-Tabs™ (Part 1)
What are Meter-Tabs™ and
how will they help you Notate your Song?
Songwriters are useless if they can not
effectively express their song idea to composers and musicians
If you can't notate your song's music, it'll be
difficult to develop your melody...so you need way to record
your notes based on your chosen tempo and songwriter dynamic.
...And what about developing your lyrics?
What if it takes more than one sitting to write your song's
lyrics (as it normally does for songwriters)? Will you remember
exactly how you wanted to your lyrics sung?
For this reason, you're going to learn a cool way
to record the lyrics and melody of your song without needing to
learn complicated sheet music symbols.
Meter-Tab is a more simplified way
to read and write rhythm and melody
A meter-tabs chart shows “how much
can happen” within “a moment in time”.
So what does this mean? Normally we can
only "feel" rhythm, but now we also have a way to see rhythm
and show exactly how we want our lyrics to be sung - and our melodies played - without learning traditional music
How meter-tabs work
Each black number (1) in the top row
one (1) beat
- same as in our
brown number () in
the next row represents one (1)
"space" in time (each the same size).
Each purple number
() (shown later) represents
one (1) "space" in time
(each the same size).
Each space can be
- 1 syllable from a word
(or 1 word sound)
- 1 note from a melody, or...
- Remain as an empty space.
The way you
sing your lyrics and play your melody will affect how they're
recorded on your chart.
For example, on a 4/4 Meter-Tabs
chart - the most common
songwriter dynamic -
only a maximum of 4 syllables
and 4 regular notes can
exist inside 1 beat.
For practice, let's record "Mary Had
A Little Lamb" in Meter-Tabs!
"Step 2: Print a copy of your 4/4 Meter-Tabs Chart from
your Rhythm Toolkit"
“Mary had a little lamb” uses the most common songwriter dynamic
(4/4), so we’ll use a
4/4 meter-tabs chart. Tap your thigh while counting
four beats ("1, 2, 3, 4") on
"Step 3: Sing 1st line of “Mary had a little lamb” while
trapping to the tempo."
Sing the first line of the nursery rhyme. If
you've never heard it before, take a listen to the following
free mp3. When singing the 1st line of nursery rhyme, notice
how the words are spread across 4 beats in a unique way...
...but if we were teaching someone else how to sing
this song, we'd still need to be a little more exact than this.
We needed to explain this song's
exact lyrical position in time. How would it look?
"We record in syllables - 1
syl-la-ble at a time
- in the correct spaces."
"Step 4: Start tapping again, and now count from
1-to-4 within each beat"
[If you're having trouble counting this
fast...slow down your tempo just a bit. It won't change the
rhythm at all.
Even though we have to count rather quickly, 4
counts can safely exist within each beat. This means each
our nursery lyric easily exists in a unique space ("count"
or "point in time") within our beats
"Mary" starts at the top of beat 1 - exactly when beat 1
hits - so we know the word starts at count 1.
"Mary isn't sung as fast as your count "1-2-3-4",
so "Ma-ry" =\= "1-2"
Listen carefully...“Mary” is stretched apart, leaving ["space"]
between it's 2 syllables: "Ma--ry"
So "Mary" is probably sung in 3 or 4 counts ("1-2-3"): "Ma--ry-"
"Step 5: Now let’s place this word on our Meter-Tabs Chart,
one syllable at a time."
Personally, I sing "Mary" in 3 counts, so that's
how I recorded it on my meter-tabs chart.
Using the same process, we can
record the the rest of this lyric on our sheet
...After a while you won't need to include the
Now we can visualize; actually see the rhythm
of our nursery rhyme’s lyrics.
“You're not required to be 100% accurate when
recording your lyrics in Meter-Tabs. This method of notation was
developed primarily as a mnemonic tool to help you remember how
you wanted to deliver your lyric & melodies in for a song."
Let's continue with
part 2 of songwriting notation.
Songwriter Exercises |
Having any webpage problems? Please