Making a Scratch Track
A scratch track is a simple recording of your song that includes the core rhythm instrument (piano, acoustic, etc) and then a separate track that represents the melody, which could be a vocal or a solo instrument that may play the melody in the final recording.
A scratch track needs to be played in time. A simple metronome phone app can help you find the desired tempo.
Once a scratch track is established you can listen to your work start to finish in your daily drive or while you are working out. You will begin to get a feel for what you like or don't like. The scratch track is simple to edit or change.
Create a Song Map
Now you can build a song map. A song map simply defines the parts of the song. It is a way to identify all the patterns that make up your song. Say, for example, an Introduction, a Chorus, a Verse, a Bridge ... you get the picture.
Having a song map, and counting out how many beats and bars each pattens has can inform you and others who will play on your song, where the unique character of the song lives.
I love to listen to a song that feels like a journey. When you look at the simple math of your song (how many bar each pattern has), you can make deliberate changes to pull the listener into the narrative of the song. I'd encourage you to deliberately "break the rules" ... but be aware that you are ... and be sure that was you intent when one Verse is 2 bar longer than another. Knowing where those differences exist can help you share your song with other musicians.
If you have questions about Scratch tracks or Song Maps it would be great to hear from you.