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I have some "ideas", but how do I make them into "songs"?

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  • I have some "ideas", but how do I make them into "songs"?

    http://austinslominski.bandcamp.com/track/rule-1

    Recently I realized, that for the last year, I have been recording tiny ideas, and I have never elaborated upon them enough to make them into songs. None of my songs have had vocals, and most are improvised guitar jams over riffs or chord progressions.

    Ive been working on something called "Rule 1", and already I can tell Ive put more thought into it than I have to anything else, but I really cant tell where to go. And already I can tell that what is happening at the beginning of the track is better off happening in the middle...

    The first thing I thought about was taking the jazzy part at the beginning and putting some in some horns and more guitar to make a rock section. When I went to do this, I ended up making several different bass parts but I really dont know how to piece it together.

    To top it off, I made a pretty heavy metal riff that continues from the end of the solo. I cant help but feel that it would be out of place.

    What do you guys do when you have a problem moving forward with a song? Any feedback for the song? Anything is helpful.

    Thanks.

  • #2
    It does have a loose & jammy atmospheric vibe as well as feeling like it is stream-of-consciousness. What it lacks in cohesion it makes up for in mood.

    As far as your question about moving forward with a song, I'd take some time to study song form (especially AAA, Verse-Chorus, and AABA). Once you get these forms down, you'll be able to adapt and modify them to your suit your needs.

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    • #3
      Pretty interesting... kinda postmodern and minimal. The intro has a bit of the harmonic flavor of the great Thelonious Monk "Goodbye, Pork Pie Hat." The transition to the piano part is abrupt, bold, and quite provocative. (But not as provocative as the bar and a half or so of electric guitar right at the end. WTH? )

      I like your feel. I like the ideas. And I don't mind the idea of abrupt transitions to unrelated parts -- but I get the sense, particularly weighing what you've written -- that that's not so much design as a certain happenstance.

      I would suggest -- as a learning exercise and way of building your focus and discipline -- to select one idea and flesh it out over a brief track. Sounds like your primary axe is guitar, so I'd suggest taking a guitar idea, just a few chords as with the first part of this, and adding a bass part and a more filled in (but still elemental/simple) drum part. (And if you got ambitious, maybe adding keys.)

      Once you had a bit more grip on how to flesh out one idea, then, indeed, move into figuring out how to create related B parts to go with your A parts. (And when you get good at that, you can move on to C parts. )

      You've got good feel an interesting ideas. Now you need a disciplined approach to filling them out and changing them up.


      music and social stuff

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      • #4
        You just got to do it. Set aside 4 hours this weekend to sit down w/o distractions (no girlfriends, phone calls, or internet) and make a cohesive whole out of it. disciple.

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        • #5
          Thanks for the tips you guys. I think Im gonna start expanding the first part into a fuller, standalone track, and with some effort, try to tweak it into what Im going for. Its starting to feel like Im going in too many places at once, time to strip it down into a structured "shell" and build from there.

          Stackabones, is there a particular way that you suggest studying structure?

          Blue2Blue, its funny that you mentioned that it sounded like happenstance, because it pretty much was :P. At first it was supposed have some foundation under it, but when I heard it by itself I decided I loved the way it drops out of nowhere haha.

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          • #6
            Ace, you could just learn it by looking up the various forms via wiki or through a songwriting book from your library. Next (or at the same time) start looking for songs and analyzing them in terms of stucture. The Beatles' Yesterday is AABA, the Eagles' Hotel California is Verse-Chorus, etc. Or just pick your favorite songs and start looking more closely at them to see how they work. Be able to identify the various parts/sections of each tune and how it fits into the structure -- and if it deviates in any way. I'd also recommend songbooks (from any genre). Just open them up and see how they work.

            I find it important to memorize songs, too. This way you'll have them (and their various components of structure, melody, harmony and lyrics [if present]) always at your fingertips. Then, when you hear a song, you'll have an instant catalog of others songs to reference it by and compare.

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            • #7
              Thanks for the tips you guys. I think Im gonna start expanding the first part into a fuller, standalone track, and with some effort, try to tweak it into what Im going for. Its starting to feel like Im going in too many places at once, time to strip it down into a structured "shell" and build from there.

              Stackabones, is there a particular way that you suggest studying structure?

              Blue2Blue, its funny that you mentioned that it sounded like happenstance, because it pretty much was :P. At first it was supposed have some foundation under it, but when I heard it by itself I decided I loved the way it drops out of nowhere haha.
              I kind of liked that, too, actually.

              But then, many of my tastes stray pretty far out of the mainstream.

              I found myself thinking, this is not that far away from some of the ambient miniatures I've heard from the outside fringes of the downtempo/chill room crowd.


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              • #8
                I would tell you how I go about things, but my creative process is absolutely horrible from a seasoned songwriter perspective. And my advice in turn would be horrible.

                What you''re doing sounds very similar to what one of my favorite bands in the Universe, Kayo Dot, does. You can check these if you want:

                http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Jw5STrIXRqA
                http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=FrkMjVqCdI8&feature=related

                Personally I'd like to hear what you have with some sort of vocals. It sounds kind of noir-ish. I can imaging some sort of spoken narrative at the beginning that builds up and ends when that piano thing happens and the BOOM an explosion of Last Exit style free jazz chaos that transitions into a sung verse over structured jazzy odd-time chord progression with dissonant jazz metal chords here and there. Between that part as the end it would be cool to have epic buildup and climax. Have a moment of silence and then a few last sung lines over a slow, quiet straight-up trad jazz ballad final part. That's just off the top of my head.

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                • #9
                  I get the sense that you are jumping over an important word in your question, which should be asked

                  I have some "ideas", but how do I make them into good "songs"?


                  The answer I give every variation of this question is "you have to write crappy songs before you can write good ones". Songwriting, like all other crafts, must be honed by actually doing it. Sure, because of the artistic qualities of song, it is possible to write a fine piece with little experience or knowledge, but those are the exceptions.

                  Write what comes natural at first. If you are really struggling, model after a few generic structures. Just get something down. Then listen as if you weren't involved in the process. Do any notes feel out of place? Should the melody have going somewhere else? Does there need to be more liftoff prior to that explosive final crescendo? Immerse yourself in the song and don't be afraid to hate it, or parts of it. Figuring out what doesn't work is just as important as figuring out what does.
                  Don't listen to Justin.
                  LCK - 2/21/2012

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                  • #10
                    Who is you favorite band? Copy their style.
                    Hamilton Steele CD's / Hamilton Steele MP3 Downloads / Hamilton Steele iTunes

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                    • #11
                      Its funny how the first thing that came to my mind was "GASP! COPY SOMEONES STYLE!!!??". But really I think that is a healthy thing to do haha.

                      Actually, a big thing that made me do the first part the way I did was Angelo Badalamenti's scores for the tv show Twin Peaks, that real cool, soft, mysterious sound. I think I might look around for some more stuff like it for inspiration...

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                      • #12
                        Yeah... it's only unhealthy if you never grow past copying their style.

                        (But, that said, even if you don't, at least you've generated some new music in that style for you, yourself, to listen to. )


                        Funny you should mention the Twin Peaks music because the comic mystery show, Psych did a lovingly over the top (it's the way they do things) tribute to Twin Peaks, complete with a rework of the Psych theme song done by Julee Cruz. (There were a number of the TP cast regulars scattered through, too. It was goofy fun.) Back when that show was on the air, I actually did something that was so Julee Cruz like, I was afraid I'd never be able to release it publicly. (And I never did.)


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