Harmony Central Forums
Announcement Announcement Module
Collapse
No announcement yet.

Does a band’s lyricist typically come up with melodies as well?

Page Title Module
Move Remove Collapse









X
Conversation Detail Module
Collapse
  • Filter
  • Time
  • Show
Clear All
new posts

  • Does a band’s lyricist typically come up with melodies as well?

    I just discovered an underground band from my area that recently released an EP on indie record label. On that EP, I found something peculiar about the songwriting credits.

    All the music is credited to the entire band, while all the lyrics AND all the melodies are credited to the band’s lead singer.

    I thought that the creation of melodies (as well as harmonies, rhythms, riffs, and chord progressions) are part of the entirety of musical composition. And I thought that a band lyricist just generated the words.

    How can a band have its lyricist credit himself with all the melodies?

    How can a band’s lead singer come up with BOTH the lyrics and the melodies at the same time?

    Isn’t musical composition considered a complete package consisting of melodies, harmonies, rhythms, riffs, and chord progressions?

    If an entire band is credited with the musical composition, shouldn’t the whole band come up with all the melodies as well during the songwriting process?

    Any professional songwriters here care to give some input?

  • #2
    The thing about music is that there are no rules when it comes to composing a song. Maybe the instrument section of the band wanted to just do rhythm, maybe the vocalist wanted more credit than just his voice. Maybe they're figuring the melody vocal line is an instrument of its own.


    Some of my songs the vocals drive the songs, sometimes the instrumentation.
    Don't think too far into it my friend. My .02 pence.

    Comment


    • #3
      Usually when you write lyrics you have some kind of melody pattern in mind. You might not play and instrument, but you have an idea how it should sound. The chording and phrasing could be written by others in the band.

      Some folks get writing credits for suggesting ideas, or coming up with a catchy riff or hook. You actually never know who did what part in the song writing process. It can be a dirty business all in all.


      _____________________________________
      Faith is taking the first step even when you don't see the whole staircase.
      Bye bye OJ it's been fun!
      Join Date: Aug 2001
      Location: N. Adams, MA USA
      Posts as of Jan 10th 2013: 82,617

      Comment


      • #4
        All bands are different. With the Grateful Dead, Robert Hunter would often write lyrics and Jerry Garcia would put them to music. John Fogerty used to write the lyrics, music, and arrangement in CCR and just tell the other guys what accompaniment he wanted. I think what's most common is for one of the band members to come up with a rough version of a song and then the entire band works it out.

        Comment


        • #5
          All true posts. There’s no set songwriting formula for everyone however, something to consider as well, Lead singers usually belong to rather large egos. That may explain the extra credits. Or they actually work that way. Can’t really tell since I’ve never heard the material and know nothing about their process. Just a thought.

          Comment


          • #6
            They mean the vocal melody. It is very common in bands for the lead singer to create the lyrics as well as the vocal melody. Remember, its not only words coming out of their mouth, there's a melody that goes with those words. The vocal is what leads the song. Within songwriting there are a few main elements that comprises a song: Melody, lyrics, chord progressions and song structure. Those are the key elements that distinguish a specific song and they're also the main basis of identifying a copyright. If the vocals are conveying the main melody, then all of the other instruments and parts playing in the background would be considered harmony content. There's the exception of instrumental leads/solo, but I assume that isn't the issue here.
            ____________________________________
            Moderator - The Singer's Forum
            Follow me on Twitter and Soundcloud

            Comment


            • #7
              Point of clarification, for copyright/publication purposes, the song is generally considered the main melody and the lyric (if any). This is not black letter law, but rather a body of (sometimes conflicting) interpretation of the written law by judges over the decades. At times, other elements that directly contribute to the identity of the song -- sometimes even a riff, though riffs are typically considered ornamentation, sometimes even a bass line, as in the case of the 60s instrumental "Shotgun" which I believe a judge ruled was most readily identified by its bass line.

              With regard to copyright credit, the melodicist and lyricist will get the benefit of existing law -- but they can elect to share the credit with other members they feel contributed to the compositional process -- since individual credit for elements in that process can be hard to pin down in some situations.

              The lyrics form 'half' the composition and the music the other half, for copyright and compensation purposes. If there are five lyricists [a la modern committee/song camp writing] and one melodicist, the melodicist is entitled to half the remuneration -- unless there is some other arrangement. Similarly, those who didn't formally contribute to writing the song are shut out from those royalties and remunerations, as well. That's why some bands merely pool all songwriting credit sharing equally. It really depends on the situation.
              Last edited by blue2blue; 07-07-2014, 10:39 AM.


              music and social stuff

              Comment


              • #8
                Blue2blue answered this pretty well.

                I'll add that words alone do not a good lyric make.

                One of the things I picked up hanging out in this community early on... I believe it was from the Cali Knight... is that melody is comprised of pitch and rhythm and a lot of times people focus on pitch when the primary focus should probably be on rhythm. I've tried writing with plenty of friends that can string some beautiful words together, but it doesn't work because they don't get that with regards to a lyric the words aren't the most important part.

                I'm not sure of this band's songwriting process, but a good lyric has a natural rhythm already written into it... ie half the melody is already there. Whether that is dictated by the lyric first or the music the rest of the band is coming up with, is up for the band to decide. If the rest of the band has a problem with the lyricist getting credit for melodies as well, they probably would say something. If they didn't they should have.

                ...

                Comment


                • #9
                  From what I understand, Deep Purple would often build a song around something Blackmore brought in. They would record the rhythm section and the solos then Gillan and Glover would 'compose' the vocal part.

                  I don't write much but when my bits get used in a band situation it is usually along the Purple model. I'll have a riff or a chord progression that I'll bring in to a jam session and the singer will usually come up with an original melody unless I suggest something specific.

                  On one occasion I brought in a complete song with intro, verse, chorus, bridge, melody and lyrics. I didn't have a demo so I just started playing. The drummer, not realizing the song was conceived as a ballad, started playing double time and that changed everything. All of a sudden, we had a catchy rock groove to work with but my melody an lyrics no longer fit. We recorded an instrumental version of it for the singer to take home.

                  The next rehearsal the singer said "I finished your song" and we had it. His melody was quite different than mine and the lyric completely his. The song was officially credited to the singer and to me but I feel that without the drummer's 'accidental' contribution the song would not have changed direction the way it did.



                  you can't control the wind but you can learn to sail

                  contentment is true wealth

                  Comment


                  • #10
                    ^ that's a good example of a band writing a song together. There is a legal definition of what constitutes a song, but there isn't really a right and wrong way to do the crediting. What's most important is for the band to communicate with one another and figure out a model that works for everyone involved.
                    ...

                    Comment


                    • #11
                      Originally posted by Jericho-79 View Post
                      How can a band have its lyricist credit himself with all the melodies?

                      How can a band’s lead singer come up with BOTH the lyrics and the melodies at the same time?

                      Isn’t musical composition considered a complete package consisting of melodies, harmonies, rhythms, riffs, and chord progressions?

                      If an entire band is credited with the musical composition, shouldn’t the whole band come up with all the melodies as well during the songwriting process?
                      Why not? Some people do one or the other, and some are good at both. Of those who do both, some make up the words first, then fill in the music, some do music first, then words, and some do them both at the same time.

                      When words and music are both involved, composition IS a package, you're right. But it's not always a package created by just one person. It's often (usually?) a collaboration of all the artists involve. (Opera is the big exception. Even then, conductors, other artistic directors, and performers all put their own stamps on things.)

                      I'm not a professional songwriter, but I do know that every band works differently. There's nothing unusual about a singer who makes up both words and melody. In my band, we each do what we do. The bassist figures out the bass lines, the drummer figures out the drum beats, the keys guy and guitar guys all figure out what they need to figure out, and we all do our best to stay out of each others' ways.

                      We play a lot of covers, and two of us write original songs - separately. We both do the same thing: Make up words, melodies, and chords, and let the rest of the band figure out the rest.

                      So I think it's okay. It would be hard for a cluster of people to come up with a melody. That's generally best left to one or two people (like John and Paul).

                      Del
                      Last edited by Delmont; 07-10-2014, 09:27 AM.

                      Comment



                      Working...
                      X