First of all, we have to agree on the definition of a song. For our purposes in Samurai Songwriting, a song is an art-form and a form of communication made up of melody, harmony, rhythm, lyrics, and form — the form of which includes a title, chorus, verse, and potentially a prechorus and/or bridge.
We can say a song is good when it achieves its purpose as defined by the artist.
Let’s also discuss what a song is not. A song is not the instruments used, that is called the arrangement. A song is not the sound of the recording, that is called the production. A song is not the vibe or mood of the final performance or recording, that is called the song’s style. These tools, arrangement, production, and style, are important to the communication of the art-form but they do not make up the core of the art of songwriting. If you write a good song, it will most likely be able to sound good using many different arrangements, productions, and styles.
A good songwriter is willing to let go of the song and allow a producer or arranger to cut it up, polish it, and change it in whatever way the producer or arranger sees fit. While it is true that a good songwriter may have a final vision or sound in mind, it is also true that unexpected alterations or directions could actually make the song better. So a Samurai Songwriter knows when to let go. A Samurai Songwriter neither holds a song too tight nor too loose.
Central to the idea of a good song is the song’s purpose. A song is meant to be listened to. Therefore, the mind of the listener is taken into consideration and used as inspiration while writing and making final decisions. Songs do not exist in a vacuum. If, when your song is listened to, the proper listener response is elicited, then you can say you have written a good song.
Sometimes, a song is meant for one listener. Other times, a song is meant for many listeners. How you write each of these songs will be different. A Samurai Songwriter knows this. A Samurai Songwriter knows how to craft a message that will be heard and understood by an audience of a specific age, sex, or other demographic.
Rather than define strict rules for how to create a good song, a Samurai Songwriter writes, gathers feedback, and adjusts until the desired result is achieved. This is the way of the Samurai Songwriter.