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  • Do you begin a song with the lyrics or the music?

    I haven't always written lyrics, but I have for quite a few years.

    Before I wrote lyrics and sang the songs I wrote tons of riffs and complete songs without words.

    I find it kind of hard to write lyrics to music because I don't know what to write about.

    With lyrics already written I can build a song based on what I'm singing about.

    How do you do it?
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  • #2
    Music is always the first spark. Occassionally, I'll have 90% of the melody and structure done before I've even gotten words, but usually it is a song fragment that comes first, then a line or two that illuminates the subject matter and then things build from there. Of course, the process is a lot more organic than it sounds in print.
    Don't listen to Justin.
    LCK - 2/21/2012

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    • #3
      I have two specific rules about this.

      1. It depends.
      2. See rule 1.

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      • #4
        How do you do it?


        I write the songs that are there. When I don't know what to write about I take a deep breath and relax because I know that the Muse is lurking right around the corner.

        Do you feel a need to write? Then play some music and write about how that music makes you feel.
        Leonard Scaper

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        • #5
          I write the songs that are there.


          Yup. Find the spark and they usually write themselves.
          Don't listen to Justin.
          LCK - 2/21/2012

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          • #6
            That's interesting...how many people find it so hard to make music or write songs...like, if it's so hard to even start, why do you feel such a strong pull to do it? And if you don't, and find you're having to push to get anything out...well, is it your passion or not?

            It's different if you're just lame and have taken years to get started...and it's different if you can write songs but then tend to suffer from mental blocks and dry spells...that's alright. But if you're starting out and actively trying to write a song and nothing's coming...well...?

            If you've got nothing to say then maybe just do instrumental music...or at least at first, like I did.

            If you DO have things to say but don't know how to say it, well...it'll come easier once you just START. Just do anything at all. Even crap stuff. It'll improve.

            Anyway, after that blabfest, my music comes first but usually the lyrics are right behind it...the music and the imagery and mental pictures for the songs come at the same time and then the lyrics form from that imagery.
            All things must pass...

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            • #7
              I fall into the "it depends" camp. I basically go about it three different ways:

              1) Music first. I'll just sing random words over the music until I get an idea for the melody, phrasing, etc. Sometimes some of those words will stick and then I'll go about trying to write cohesive lyrics around them while working within the limitations of the melody, etc.

              2) Lyrics first. If I get an idea for a melody while writing lyrics, then I'll try to come up with music to accompany it.

              3) Music and lyrics independent of each other. I have many lyrics written without any intended music, as well as some music without any lyrics. Sometimes I'll able to match two together and have a song!
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              • #8
                That's interesting...how many people find it so hard to make music or write songs...like, if it's so hard to even start, why do you feel such a strong pull to do it? And if you don't, and find you're having to push to get anything out...well, is it your passion or not?

                It's different if you're just lame and have taken years to get started...and it's different if you can write songs but then tend to suffer from mental blocks and dry spells...that's alright. But if you're starting out and actively trying to write a song and nothing's coming...well...?

                If you've got nothing to say then maybe just do instrumental music...or at least at first, like I did.

                If you DO have things to say but don't know how to say it, well...it'll come easier once you just START. Just do anything at all. Even crap stuff. It'll improve.

                Anyway, after that blabfest, my music comes first but usually the lyrics are right behind it...the music and the imagery and mental pictures for the songs come at the same time and then the lyrics form from that imagery.


                I was compelled to become a songwriter because it was the only way I could find or otherwise come up with songs simple enough for me to play.

                Nothing hard to understand about that, I shouldn't think.


                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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                • #9
                  Usually words. When it's music, it's because I'm learning someone else's song, and I come across a weird musical trick--an unusual rhythm, unexpected chord change, etc. Then I steal it and build a song around it.
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                  • #10
                    I fall into the "it depends" camp. I basically go about it three different ways:

                    1) Music first. I'll just sing random words over the music until I get an idea for the melody, phrasing, etc. Sometimes some of those words will stick and then I'll go about trying to write cohesive lyrics around them while working within the limitations of the melody, etc.

                    2) Lyrics first. If I get an idea for a melody while writing lyrics, then I'll try to come up with music to accompany it.

                    3) Music and lyrics independent of each other. I have many lyrics written without any intended music, as well as some music without any lyrics. Sometimes I'll able to match two together and have a song!



                    usually #3 for me. I have a ****************load of pieces of paper with words on it.

                    I was watching this documentary on eminem, and he keeps shoeboxes and shoeboxes full of all sorts of words he scribbled on papers, napkins, notebooks etc. He basically said, when he has a beat, he goes through the shoeboxes and searches for stuff that fits, then expands upon that.

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                    • #11
                      9 times out of 10, the music? But I just finished one that began with the wordz.
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                      • #12
                        Usually ill have music and add words...On occasion, I may have a set of lyrics that I like and put music to them. On the rare occasions that happens, I usually have to do a major edit of the lyrics...........
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                        • #13
                          I have two specific rules about this.

                          1. It depends.
                          2. See rule 1.


                          Indeed. I have a large backlog of lyrics that sometimes I am able to fit with new chord progressions and/or melodies, but it depends. I also will sometimes write and record progressions and melodies and then write specific lyrics to them, but again it depends.

                          As far a writing in general, all I can recommend is that you keep at it. I feel like every song or lyrics I write is better than the last, so naturally, it keeps me going. I look back at some of the stuff I started with and it seems pretty simple and juvenile, which I guess is only natural. As far as what to write about, just try to pick topics that you can speak personally and emotionally about. Don't force it. Sometimes you can get on a roll and complete a song in no time where as others you can't buy inspiration even if you tried. Just don't get frustrated and don't be afraid seek help or creative criticism. I've found one of the incredible benefits of being in a band is bouncing ideas, both lyrically and musically, off of each other. Sometimes it just takes one lyrics, one line, or even half of a line to open the creative floodgates. It's the same with music.
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                          • #14
                            BOTH
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                            • #15
                              I haven't always written lyrics, but I have for quite a few years.

                              Before I wrote lyrics and sang the songs I wrote tons of riffs and complete songs without words.

                              I find it kind of hard to write lyrics to music because I don't know what to write about.

                              With lyrics already written I can build a song based on what I'm singing about.

                              How do you do it?




                              The key to writing lyrics is, you got to start somewhere.
                              Write down something, write down any, but write it down.
                              Get the title down if you want.

                              Write down the chorus, work on the verses, or a bridge, just write it down.

                              Don't worry if it's exactly what you want to say, it probably will not come out the first time you get it down on paper.

                              It's about playing with words.
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