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What is in your songwriting toolkit?

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  • What is in your songwriting toolkit?

    When you write music what do you have at hand that will give you inspiration, ect..



    For Example, Notebook, Thesaurus.. ect..



    Whats in your toolkit.

  • #2
    I typically just plug in and jam, using Garageband to record ideas I want to develop later. If I'm out and about with no instrument and something comes to me, I'll either sing it to myself all the way home or record a voice memo. If a particular concept or title comes to mind, I'll write it down somewhere.
    <div class="signaturecontainer"><a href="https://www.facebook.com/ENSMB?ref=hl" target="_blank">Emperor Norton's Stationary Marching Band</a><br />
    <a href="https://www.facebook.com/pages/Eight-Foot-Manchild/139359172795381?ref=hl" target="_blank">Eight Foot Manchild</a></div>

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    • #3
      I have one pocket sized Moleskine notebook that I always have with me in my messenger bag and a larger one that I keep on my desk at home for jotting down song ideas or interesting phrases that pop into my head.



      I sometimes use a rhyming dictionary and/or a thesaurus to generate ideas when whittling down lyrical structure.



      I have a developing bank of musical structures - chord progressions, instrument combinations, rhythms and junk that falls out of my head that I just keep adding to whenever the mood to just play some music strikes. Most often though, I like to just sit down at the piano with 4 or so chords and record a kind of "jam session" where I take those same 4 chords through different combinations of arrangement, rhythm and mood - no clear direction, just kind of let things roll. From just those 4 chords, I usually end up with 6-7 minute long piano pieces that can sometimes contain 4 or 5 different melody or instrumental ideas that I can identify, piece out and decide whether or not to develop. I might then immediately recall something I scribbled down and develop it lyrically - or I might have one of those splices of piano running through my head when a lyric or group of lyrics occurs to me.



      Here is one example of a piano freestyle using the same 4 chords in different rhythms with different augmentations:



      https://soundcloud.com/nika-gordham/piano-freestyle



      The section from 1:43 to 2:26 was the base for a song that I recently developed and am still working on lyrically. But I can hear at least 4 song ideas in there that I have yet to develop.
      <div class="signaturecontainer"><div align="center"><img src="http://img3.harmony-central.com/acapella/ubb/evil.gif" border="0" alt="" title="evil" class="inlineimg" /></div></div>

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      • #4






        Quote Originally Posted by triq
        View Post

        I have one pocket sized Moleskine notebook that I always have with me in my messenger bag and a larger one that I keep on my desk at home for jotting down song ideas or interesting phrases that pop into my head.



        I sometimes use a rhyming dictionary and/or a thesaurus to generate ideas when whittling down lyrical structure.



        I have a developing bank of musical structures - chord progressions, instrument combinations, rhythms and junk that falls out of my head that I just keep adding to whenever the mood to just play some music strikes. Most often though, I like to just sit down at the piano with 4 or so chords and record a kind of "jam session" where I take those same 4 chords through different combinations of arrangement, rhythm and mood - no clear direction, just kind of let things roll. From just those 4 chords, I usually end up with 6-7 minute long piano pieces that can sometimes contain 4 or 5 different melody or instrumental ideas that I can identify, piece out and decide whether or not to develop. I might then immediately recall something I scribbled down and develop it lyrically - or I might have one of those splices of piano running through my head when a lyric or group of lyrics occurs to me.



        Here is one example of a piano freestyle using the same 4 chords in different rhythms with different augmentations:



        https://soundcloud.com/nika-gordham/piano-freestyle



        The section from 1:43 to 2:26 was the base for a song that I recently developed and am still working on lyrically. But I can hear at least 4 song ideas in there that I have yet to develop.




        Cool! That's amazing just as one long instrumental piece. Can't wait to hear some of the songs that come out of it.
        Beware of deepities.<br>-- Daniel Dennett

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        • #5
          Best tool I have, and highly recommended, is a simple mp3 audio recorder. And although iphones and other devices like that can record, they have no tactil feedback so to start or stop a recording you have to divert attention. Another distraction.



          I love my olympus handheld recorder, it has real raised buttons making it so easy to start and stop.



          OK, now with that technology piece out of the way... when I am playing music, just playing, and I sense I am hearing something I like, I turn on the recorder. I may end up with a lot of recording. Then, could be a week or 3 months, I pull those files off and quickly skip through them on my computer. Any little pieces I like I quickly edit down and toss in a folder called sound ideas.



          Now, obviously, a person who starts from lyrics probably will have to adjust this method, but for me, I almost always start in the other directio, its perfect.



          My Guns Guns Guns song? That was 3 notes I recorded last summer and listened to again among all the snippets a couple of weeks ago.

          My grey skies song, started as two chords and the words "gray skies on a saturday night" captured on my mp3 player last summer.



          My methodology is metaphorically equivalent to fishing with a big net, taking those fish and stocking my own pond, then coming back to the pond and picking and choosing what fish I want to eat!



          It may not work for everyone, but for me, my voodoo works.



          Rick
          <div class="signaturecontainer"><a href="http://www.rickdieffenbach.com" target="_blank">www.rickdieffenbach.com</a>.</div>

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          • #6






            Quote Originally Posted by triq
            View Post

            I like to just sit down at the piano with 4 or so chords and record a kind of "jam session" where I take those same 4 chords through different combinations of arrangement, rhythm and mood - no clear direction, just kind of let things roll. From just those 4 chords, I usually end up with 6-7 minute long piano pieces that can sometimes contain 4 or 5 different melody or instrumental ideas that I can identify, piece out and decide whether or not to develop.




            That's very cool.
            "I write from a different place. I do not even know what it is called, or if it has a name. It just comes and I sculpt it. But it is also a lot of hard work." —Van Morrison

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            • #7






              Quote Originally Posted by xtianmind
              View Post

              When you write music what do you have at hand that will give you inspiration, ect..



              For Example, Notebook, Thesaurus.. ect..



              Whats in your toolkit.




              I box of kleenex.
              http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=dGxDwt26FZc
              http://www.cdbaby.com/cd/marshallsongs
              http://www.reverbnation.com/#!/marshallsongs

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              • #8






                Quote Originally Posted by Marshal
                View Post

                I box of kleenex.




                TMI
                Lyrics Songs Demos Videos Covers Facebook Tumblr

                Before you leave the house, look in the mirror and take one thing off.

                -Coco Chanel

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                • #9
                  A computer. An internet connection and MS Word. A hand held digital recorder, which in now my phone. That's it. With the internet connection I've got access to all the reference materials I need. Dictionary, encyclopedia, rhyming dictionary, thesaurus, pop culture research...



                  I'm good with any word processor but Word is on all my computers. And :"Writer" on my iPhone for Siri dictation writing. <That's new to me and a lot of fun.



                  Of course, if I don't have access to a computer I am absolutely happy with a pad and pen. And an answering machine I can call and leave humming demos.
                  Thomas Jefferson said... "The day will come when the mystical generation of Jesus, by the Supreme Being as His father, in the womb of a virgin will be classed with the fable of the generation of Minerva in the brain of Jupiter." hmmm...

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                  • #10
                    I've never used a thesaurus or rhyming dictionary. I should try that on a couple songs I'm mostly done with.



                    I have used Wikipedia to research subjects I was writing about. Also Google itself is handy for Googling lyrics to make sure you aren't plagiarizing anyone.

                    Comment


                    • #11






                      Quote Originally Posted by Marshal
                      View Post

                      I box of kleenex.










                      Quote Originally Posted by rsadasiv
                      View Post

                      TMI




                      ROFL!!
                      <div class="signaturecontainer"><div align="center"><img src="http://img3.harmony-central.com/acapella/ubb/evil.gif" border="0" alt="" title="evil" class="inlineimg" /></div></div>

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                      • #12
                        My 'kit' used to be the current spiral bound notebook and a pen. Now, it's pretty much the guitar tuner and recorder apps on my Android.



                        For about 6 weeks circa '72 I had checked a rhyming dictionary out of my local library branch, during which I did my share of "Subterranean Homesick Blues" rhyme extravaganzas (glad I got it out of my system)... but it was kind of an important part of learning to writer rhyming verse -- as a mid-20th century 'poet,' rhyming verse was the last thing I had considered writing... very different skill set. Toward the end of that period I decided I'd need to learn how to come up with rhymes (in those days I would write in the park or the beach a lot and I didn't see myself hauling around a rhyming dictionary -- or spending the money on one)... so I taught myself to 'run the alphabet' looking for rhymes -- which, for me, is almost always more natural and better than fighting through a list of perfect and near rhymes. And, at this point, rooting around for a rhyme is pretty subconscious (it took a while)... so I don't have to actually, consciously go through that, often the rhymes surface when I'm in 'waiting-for-the-next-line' mode.



                        Ah, I've also found a capo comes in handy, as well, for quick transpositions without having to stop and think. If I'm looking for the right place for a melody to hit my voice, even if I'm going to rewrite the guitar arrangement into 'native' chords later, the capo is a good way of quickly getting access to multiple keys quickly. I guess I probably would include a guitar slide in there, because I usually pack one up when I take my git anywhere, although I don't necessarily write songs for a particular arrangement (or key, necessarily, for that matter, I"m often switching keys around on existing songs, as well as guitar arrangements, and even the chords).





                        With regard to thesauruses, I went through my thesaurus phase pretty much in high school or maybe junior high. I talked my mom into buying me a Roget's -- and it probably took the laugh factor in my high school papers up at least 15 to 20 percent, I figure. I'll still refer to them when there's a word I want to use but can't quite put my finger on it -- more memory aid -- you pack enough words into your brain, it's like a crowded, increasingly hinky hard drive -- the association angle is key there.



                        But, in general, my writing is personal, on some level (I write about characters a fair amount, but there's usually some personal truth I'm trying to work toward), and it really doesn't seem to make any sense to me to go looking for some word I don't already know -- if for no other reason that I suspect my working vocabulary is already over-large when it comes to communicating with regular folks in a straightforward manner.


                        music and social stuff | The Forgotify Files | A Year of Songs | mutant pop on facebook | roots acoustic on facebook


                        The chorus seems a little weak... I think it needs more lasers.

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                        • #13
                          My songwriting toolkit includes a guitar, a capo, a small notebook (where I jot down possible song titles or lyrical phrases), a paperback copy of Clement Wood's rhyming dictionary (the online rhyming dictionaries I've seen can't hold a candle to it), and whatever backlog of experiences, storytelling skills, etc., I carry around in my brain.
                          "I write from a different place. I do not even know what it is called, or if it has a name. It just comes and I sculpt it. But it is also a lot of hard work." —Van Morrison

                          Comment


                          • #14
                            O, I also have a small notebook of staff paper, but I only use it for more complex ideas that I want to develop on the go.
                            <div class="signaturecontainer"><a href="https://www.facebook.com/ENSMB?ref=hl" target="_blank">Emperor Norton's Stationary Marching Band</a><br />
                            <a href="https://www.facebook.com/pages/Eight-Foot-Manchild/139359172795381?ref=hl" target="_blank">Eight Foot Manchild</a></div>

                            Comment


                            • #15






                              Quote Originally Posted by xtianmind
                              View Post

                              Whats in your toolkit.




                              A lot of the wrong tools to do the job properly.
                              'Music is your own experience, your thoughts, your wisdom. If you don't live it, it won't come out of your horn'.
                              CHARLIE PARKER

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