Announcement
Collapse
No announcement yet.

What's Your Procedure For Songwriting?

Collapse
X
  • Time
  • Show
Clear All
new posts

  • What's Your Procedure For Songwriting?

    I get this question a lot. The answer is very simple, 'what ever procedure has the most momentum'. If playing the guitar is getting me where I want to go, I stick with it until I’m satisfied. I’ve rarely written a complete song just using the bass guitar. Only a few times on just the drums and never on keyboards only (my piano playing is too slow and rudimentary, thank goodness for midi). What I do (and enjoy) more than anything else is create a bed of music as if it’s meant to be an instrumental piece (not a song). I get the groove, harmonic movement, the emotional peaks, valleys melodies etc, and then I write lyrics to it. How do you guys write?

  • #2
    I tend to think in terms of chord progressions rather than melody or groove. I noodle around on the acoustic (guitar being really my only instrument), starting sometimes with a chord that has some dissonant element that catches my ear, sometimes with a short progression that seems to have potential, and follow where it leads. Having played for many years, my ability to hear where the song "wants to go," and to know what my fingers need to do to get there, has gradually improved. Sometimes the melody comes as the chords are being developed, sometimes melody and lyrics don't come til later. Only a very few times have I developed a song from a melody that just sprang into my head (although I suspect that for people with a real gift for melody, this is the norm).

    I include a bridge in most of my songs, and this is maybe my favorite part of songwriting. It's always a fun challenge to come up with a "middle 8" that is fresh and goes in a bit of an unexpected direction, but that feels consistent with the rest of the tune. The bridge seems to be kind of a lost art in most music coming out nowadays.

    shameless self-promotion: www.hermitthrush.bandcamp.com if you want to hear some of my stuff.

    Comment


    • #3
      Songs usually come to me when I'm busy doing something else

      If I try to write a song, nothing happens. I just wait until they come to me
      new album - smoke
      forum - the asylum

      Comment


      • #4
        I'm most comfortable starting with an instrument and building off a riff, but can also start with a lyric when the situation calls for it.

        A handy trick is to write a lyric over traditional chord progression and then apply those words to a different progression if you'd rather something more fresh. This can work because words have a natural cadence and if they work together in one song they can probably work in another one.
        ...

        Comment


        • #5
          The guitar is the inspiration. The melody leads. If lyrics lead it's because they were/are someone else's. And, for the love of the written word, when is the possessive form of else (else's) going to be given the grammatical green light?
          Fisher House Foundation

          Comment


          • #6
            My procedure for songwriting is similar to Mark's. I'm not a Brill Building guy who goes to work each day to write songs . Most songs happen when I'm playing for whatever reason - could be testing out something, could be writing a review - and a chord progression or melody line pops out. Most of the time it's guitar, but there are several songs on Neo- that started with keyboards (e.g., "Catch Me, I'm Dreaming" and "Daughter" on Side 1, "Little Pieces" on Side 2).



            I don't think I've ever had a situation where a lyrical idea caused a melodic one...what happens is the lyrical idea gets "filed away," just waiting for the right time for it to become part of a song. But most of the time, just playing a song over and over causes lyrical ideas to happen. I get about 10% of the lyrical ideas at once, and then sing placeholders for all the rest. Eventually, I fill in the blanks for the placeholders. I do a lot of editing on the lyrics - they'll go through a lot of iterations before they're finalized...just like my other writing
            Last edited by Anderton; 11-26-2015, 10:44 AM.
            CHECK IT OUT: Lilianna!, my latest song, is now streamable from YouTube.

            Subscribe, like, and share the links!

            Comment


            • #7
              Originally posted by Mr. Hardgroove View Post
              I get this question a lot. The answer is very simple, 'what ever procedure has the most momentum'. If playing the guitar is getting me where I want to go, I stick with it until I’m satisfied. I’ve rarely written a complete song just using the bass guitar. Only a few times on just the drums and never on keyboards only (my piano playing is too slow and rudimentary, thank goodness for midi). What I do (and enjoy) more than anything else is create a bed of music as if it’s meant to be an instrumental piece (not a song). I get the groove, harmonic movement, the emotional peaks, valleys melodies etc, and then I write lyrics to it. How do you guys write?
              I can write a song everyday but thats not my preference. I prefer to let the song come on its own. I don`t know about anyone else but I can feel a song coming on in my body. Its strange… last year around this time I knew a song was coming but it wasn`t until that week between Christmas and New Years that the song gave birth. I just had this melody that kept rolling around my head. I knew what the song had to say but the lyrics were not coming so I just kept at it knowing the song was there under a lot of debris. After a couple of sleepless nights the lyrics just came and that was that. I don`t force it but if I know I`m close, I`ll work on it until something gives.

              After I have the bulk of the song down, I`ll go back and rework the lyrics to make sure syllables line up rhythmically and I will spend lots of time making sure the song builds to the chorus. If I remember all the lyrics, I know there keepers. If not, I`ll rewrite it until it sticks. Its a tedious process of trimming the fat.

              Comment


              • #8
                Originally posted by Ernest Buckley View Post

                I can write a song everyday but thats not my preference. I prefer to let the song come on its own. I don`t know about anyone else but I can feel a song coming on in my body. Its strange… last year around this time I knew a song was coming but it wasn`t until that week between Christmas and New Years that the song gave birth. I just had this melody that kept rolling around my head. I knew what the song had to say but the lyrics were not coming so I just kept at it knowing the song was there under a lot of debris. After a couple of sleepless nights the lyrics just came and that was that. I don`t force it but if I know I`m close, I`ll work on it until something gives.

                After I have the bulk of the song down, I`ll go back and rework the lyrics to make sure syllables line up rhythmically and I will spend lots of time making sure the song builds to the chorus. If I remember all the lyrics, I know there keepers. If not, I`ll rewrite it until it sticks. Its a tedious process of trimming the fat.
                This is the way of it for me. The song swells in me based upon a particular melody, which I have many of floating around in the biosphere, and when the song's message becomes known to me it gets written soon after.

                Song writers of the protest variety get their material from the issues in the press. Audiences quickly connect with those songs because they're parroting familiar issues off the plates of opinionated music men who are publicly no more informed about them than they are - level playing field. I never did like "artists" who used music to platform their protests. They scam an oblivious audience in two ways: The press writes their material and then they turn around and abuse the art form to resell old news back to the audience. And, the underlying melody is derived: not a honest composition from the heart.

                The song is only an original if it comes entirely from within. That's why I illustrate the protest song writer above. He/she is not completely original or even honest in that the music begets the message, which is the way of music, rather than the message recruiting a derived melody. By derived I mean a melody based on some known work and arranged to appear original to the piece. One can hear Dylan's Lay Lady Lay progression carefully manipulated in other work but almost shamelessly in Coldplay's Clocks. I believe that band's method is to procure melodies for lyrics rather than wholly write them as originals. Aural slight of hand is their M.O., their attorney is well paid and by golly Mr Satriani, yours wasn't.

                Then there's the songs basically ripped out of the public domain like What Child Is This by William Chatterton Dix in 1865. He pirated the melody from Greensleeves and that song has since been lost to the ether because of him. What used to be a very fine lover's lament of unknown authorship is now completely obscured by an (not-so-ironically) dishonest fete of the religiously motivated.

                Music has been bartered off in so many ways that are all commercial in purpose that I don't appreciate it anymore, and haven't since the mid 70's when such a calamity became obvious to me. I'm no stranger to the hi-jacking of musical composition. I just can't abide it anymore and yet now we have technology taking another shot at it in the form of digitally synthesizing it into pablum to spoon feed the masses.
                Fisher House Foundation

                Comment


                • #9
                  Originally posted by Idunno View Post

                  This is the way of it for me. The song swells in me based upon a particular melody, which I have many of floating around in the biosphere, and when the song's message becomes known to me it gets written soon after.

                  Song writers of the protest variety get their material from the issues in the press. Audiences quickly connect with those songs because they're parroting familiar issues off the plates of opinionated music men who are publicly no more informed about them than they are - level playing field. I never did like "artists" who used music to platform their protests. They scam an oblivious audience in two ways: The press writes their material and then they turn around and abuse the art form to resell old news back to the audience. And, the underlying melody is derived: not a honest composition from the heart.

                  The song is only an original if it comes entirely from within. That's why I illustrate the protest song writer above. He/she is not completely original or even honest in that the music begets the message, which is the way of music, rather than the message recruiting a derived melody. By derived I mean a melody based on some known work and arranged to appear original to the piece. One can hear Dylan's Lay Lady Lay progression carefully manipulated in other work but almost shamelessly in Coldplay's Clocks. I believe that band's method is to procure melodies for lyrics rather than wholly write them as originals. Aural slight of hand is their M.O., their attorney is well paid and by golly Mr Satriani, yours wasn't.

                  Then there's the songs basically ripped out of the public domain like What Child Is This by William Chatterton Dix in 1865. He pirated the melody from Greensleeves and that song has since been lost to the ether because of him. What used to be a very fine lover's lament of unknown authorship is now completely obscured by an (not-so-ironically) dishonest fete of the religiously motivated.

                  Music has been bartered off in so many ways that are all commercial in purpose that I don't appreciate it anymore, and haven't since the mid 70's when such a calamity became obvious to me. I'm no stranger to the hi-jacking of musical composition. I just can't abide it anymore and yet now we have technology taking another shot at it in the form of digitally synthesizing it into pablum to spoon feed the masses.
                  And then you quote Dylan getting ripped off. What about all the times he ripped off other people?

                  If you wait to write something totally "original," you'll never write anything at all.
                  ...

                  Comment


                  • #10
                    How ever it happens I write it down. You got to start somewhere and if you don't write it down it will be lost forever.

                    I usually start with a phrase, chorus, or song title, or maybe even just something I want to say. All lyrics get written down on a computer or tablet, so I can move around word, ideas and phrases, maybe stuff that rhymes.

                    The easy part is the beginning, and stuff that rushes out of you in those few moments of inspiration. They rest can be like going to work, and you may need to dig deeper for completion. I do it all with an acoustic guitar. I usually let songs stew for a few days after completing them and make more edits along the way.

                    Right now I have 4 MS word pages up with 4 or 5 songs going. It looks like it's time to go to work and maybe complete something, but I have been busy.

                    I like to do it in quite me time.

                    _____________________________________
                    Faith is taking the first step even when you don't see the whole staircase.

                    Join Date: Aug 2001
                    Location: N. Adams, MA USA
                    Posts as of Jan 10th 2013: 82,617

                    Comment

                    Working...
                    X