How To Make Pop Music: Step By Step

How To Make Pop Music: Step By Step

Pop music is everywhere. On the radio, the TV, and the internet. And this isn’t about to change. While there are many genres of music, the pop genre covers an eclectic range of songs. However, there are formulas to creating pop music.

Pop music is short for “popular music.” And that’s just what it is. With other genres such as hip hop, rap, dance, and rock taking center stage during periods of the last 60 years, pop has always remained in the charts.

Pop music’s modern form originated in the United States and the United Kingdom during the 1950s. Although now considered rock’n’roll, early incarnations of pop include Elvis Presley and Buddy Holly. Even The Beatles from the 1960s are considered pop music due to the music’s popularity.

As I mentioned, pop music is very eclectic. It often borrows elements from other styles of music such as dance, rock, Latin, country, and much more. However, some core elements tend to define what pop music is.

Some of the main factors that make a pop song include short to medium-length songs written with a basic structure such as verse, chorus, verse, chorus, etc. The choruses are often repeated throughout the song with catchy hooks and melodic tunes to accompany the vocals.

Most often in a 4/4 timing, though this can differ with some recordings, most pop songs tend to range from 95 to 130 beats per minute.

Now we understand what pop music is and the bare essentials that can make a pop song, let’s find out how to make a pop track.

Pop music: How to make it

One of the simplest methods to writing or creating a pop song is to use pop chords. The majority of pop songs are made up of just three note chords. Many have the chord progression of C, G, Am, F.

Just a few examples that use this progression include The Beatles’ Let it be, Adeles’ Someone like you, and Torn by Natalie Imbruglia. All massive hits for these artists, it seems listeners like to hear something they recognize. 

You can rearrange these chords over a bass line or make your own chord progression. As long as you use notes from C major, you should be able to create a catchy tune.

Of course, you can change things up a bit by using notes or chords from outside the scale. This requires a more thorough understanding of music theory, however.

The good news is, if you sit down at a piano or with a guitar long enough, you should be able to come up with something by playing around with chords over time.

With that being said, let’s take a look at how to structure a pop song.

Building a pop song

You can see pop songs form in front of your very own eyes. There’s no feeling like it. One moment you have a blank canvas and within a few minutes, you can have a fully-fledged pop song ready to take flight.

I’m going to show you the most common way of creating pop music from scratch.

Firstly, this is a method used by Oak fender, an American songwriter and record producer, and countless other songwriters around the world. While there may be other ways to make pop music, we are going to focus on this way of creation.

Firstly, you start a beat by playing a few chords. Then, you build around them. Once you like the chord progression, you can move on to adding drums.

How To Make Pop Music

Drums 

Most pop beats are simple and straightforward. For the majority of pop songs, you should aim for a simple structure with a 4/4 rhythm or a slight deviation from this. You can add in hi-hat patterns to add a little more spice to the song and thicken the sound.

Once you have selected your sounds, you should start tuning them to your desired key. As soon as your beat is in one key, all other ingredients of the song will mix together more easily.

It can take a little time to get the beat right but don’t despair! Just try layering a few more sounds over what you already have until you’re happy with the basic sound.

This can be fun as you have free reign to do whatever you think suits the music. It’s a time to be creative! It’s my favorite part of making music and the best way to get through creative blocks.

Bass

It’s all about that bass! Bass is one of the most important instruments in pop music even if it doesn’t stand out like other instruments. Think of it as the cement to the song, working together with the drums to keep the song together.

Once you’re happy with your beat, build a bass groove. You want something that people will like listening to over and over again.

It should be simple and repetitive but not boring. Change between long notes and short notes and add in a subtle variation of notes every now and again. A small bass lick in parts of the song can stand out and make it far more interesting for listeners.

Try and establish a tonality for your song. If your drums are tuned to the key of C major, try and use C major as your first bass note. Of course, you can start with different notes if that doesn’t work for you.

Melodies and variation

Start improvising with different notes. Try to keep the melodies quite repetitive but with some variation. Pop music should be easy to remember but always fresh enough to keep people wanting more.

You can use passing tones to liven up the track. Use one or two notes from outside the C major scale and use them between notes that don’t fall on the downbeat. 

The intro, verse, bridge, and chorus can have different beat changes. Therefore, try and create different beats to build a fuller song.

For the most basic pop song structure, follow this:

  • Intro
  • Verse
  • Pre-chorus
  • Chorus
  • Verse
  • Pre-chorus
  • Chorus
  • Bridge 
  • Chorus

Fun, simple, and a chance to be creative. That’s how you make pop music! 

Blake Gibbs

I have been a professional DJ for almost 10 years. In that time I've played a lot of gigs and gone through a whole bunch of equipment. My new goal is to spread my knowledge of DJ products with the world through this website!