Getting Started Writing Your Own Songs
Songs are seldom written from beginning to end in one sitting. Songs begin as bits and pieces of melodies that evolve with time. The following technique will allow you to take beginning steps in composing and writing down your melodies to share with others.
First, have pad of blank staff paper in front of you as you play. If you are not familiar with TAB, a basic chart of notes and fingerings will be a great help. Use a pencil for all notations, so they can easily be changed as your song evolves.
As you play your flute, listen for a pattern of notes that you like. Usually a 5-8 note phrase is good for a start. For each phrase, use a fresh sheet of paper. Begin by only writing the notes. Rhythms can and do change as the song progresses, so are not necessary at this point in the song. Do this every time you play your flute and find an interesting phrase.
Keep your sheets in a folder. Occasionally, look through your sheets and try to add to your songs. Many times, phrases from different sheets can be combined to create your melody. If any sheet is not progressing, put it back in your folder. Songs tend to develop in their own time, and some phrases may never become full songs. Work with the pages as long as you feel comfortable.
Once the song feels "finished" to you, you can think about whether you prefer to leave your song in an unstructured form or to add rhythmic notations. For personal use, I may leave my songs as notes only. For sharing with others, noting the rhythms is helpful. That is why TAB is more useful than fingering diagrams for songs unknown to the listener. For purposes of sharing, more information is better.
Whichever format you choose, songwriting should be fun. If you are feeling frustrated, put it away for another time. Frequent small doses of writing are often better than agonizing over a song that isn't working. Just return to your sheets, play them, and let them grow naturally.
Sources of inspiration are everywhere. Listen to other musicians. Listen to sounds of nature. I have even written songs to emphasize an embellishment I wanted to work on. Repeated notes are great for double or triple tonguing exercises. Bending notes can create a mournful melody. Keep playing your flute and noting what appeals to you. Soon you will have original songs you enjoy sharing with others!