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Songwriter Exercises - Songwriting Notation

Compose Your Song Using Meter-Tabs™ (Part 2)

Meter-Tabs can also be used to visualize notes for vocal and music melodies!

Now that you’re more familiar with using syllables meter-tabs, I’ll explain the other parts of the Meter-Tabs songwriting chart...and I'll show you how easy it is to write "vocal & music" notes.

Once again we'll use the well-known nursery rhyme, "Mary Had a Little Lamb", as our example.

Advanced Anatomy of the Meter-Tabs Table

The Meter-Tabs Songwriting Chart has 4 main rows...

Here's a common (4/4) Meter-Tabs Songwriting Chart, and below is a summary of it's elements:

  • Beat - Number of beats in your song's dynamic before repeating (meter)
  • Syllables - Maximum number of syllables that can safely fit within each beat
  • Vocals - Musical notes sung for each syllable
  • Music - Independent melody pattern played by lead instrument

Our vocals & syllables rows work together to show which notes to sing for each syllable, creating a vocal melody. Our music row is independent of our other two rows, and shows which notes are played in our music melody.


"Step 1: Sing the nursery rhyme, 'Mary Had a Little Lamb' once again"

Each syllable in our lyrics has a specific space to fill on our meter-tabs songwriting chart.

As you sing the nursery rhyme, listen...and notice there’s one (1) musical note sung for each syllable! This is the vocal melody for the song...and the melody is "E, D, C, D, E, E, E".


"Step 2: Record the vocals for nursery rhyme’s syllables"

Each vocal note is place at the same "count" as the syllable above it.

REMEMBER: We already know where to put each vocal note because our vocals & syllables rows work together to show which notes to sing for each syllable.

Notice that each note hits at the same time as a syllable.

Your Vocal Notes will always be in the same "space" as your Syllables.

And it’s that simple! Once you have your syllables written in meter-tabs, just place your notes in the same positions underneath.


"Step 3: Now write down the music notes for this nursery rhyme’s basic melody"

Where should nursery rhyme's music notes go on the Meter-Tabs Songwriting Chart?

The music notes to this basic melody are "E, C, E, and E". From what you now understand, where do you think you should put them in the music row? When do you hear these notes play?

Answer: Each music note ("E, C, E, and E") plays at position [1] of each respective beat.

Your Music can play independent of your Syllables and Vocals.

...Your music notes may or may not play at the same time as your vocals and syllables. You're the songwriter! Your songwriting is based on your artistic interpretation.


Here's even more advanced stuff for meter-tabs (not necessary for lyric writing)

The following are "extra" symbols placed in front or behind notes for more musical detail:

Meter-Tab Symbols - To add more detail to your melodies.

  • "Star" - Shows starting note of your melody. Place a small star in front of the note.
  • "Normal" - A normal note! There is no symbol to add to a normal note.
  • "Up Arrow" - Shows if the note is an entire level above the starting note. Place in front
  • "Down Arrow" - Shows if the note is an entire level below the starting note. Place in front.
  • "Minus Sign" - Shows if note is "flat". Place behind note.
  • "Pound Sign" - Shows if a note is "sharp". Place behind note.

“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 your next songwriter exercise: songwriter rhythm.

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