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What comes first, title or track?


Gizzyboo

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Hi all, first time visitor to this group. I play acoustic, and sing/bass player in a cover band. Dabbled a little with original stuff but now I own a little home recorder and don't want to waste my time recording cover tunes on it. I want to write original stuff but i have to ask this very basic question, what comes first to most of you, the title or the track? What i've done in the past was the body of work first with a chord progression and then stick a title on it. But sometimes a real cool title might pop in my head as well but have never took it further than that.

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I guess by track you mean completed tune? If so, yes -- I've had tunes I didn't name until they were done. But I've also had tunes that the first thing that popped into my mind turned out to be the title.

 

So either one can come first -- it really depends. No rules. Just write.

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A phrase. A beat. A melody. A gut feeling. An image. That's usually first.

 

Often though, the first thing for me is an image. The image becomes a part of the lyrical passage, but it tends to not be the hook (I may have intended it to be so at the beginning, but after I start flushing out and focusing things, things change).

 

The title, may come from the hook or a dominant phrase or image. So if the dominant phrase is the first thing I thought of when the idea popped in my head, I guess you can say I wrote the title first. But I wouldn't say that. The title is fermented closer to finishing the lyric, and melodic structure. The arrangement though may change things, up slightly.

 

If I don't have anything close to a title at the endgame, I put on my beret, long colourful scarf, call it untitled #15, and start pretending I'm the most artsy guy in the room.

 

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Titles are almost always an afterthought for me. Sometimes they're the hook phrase (if there's a phrase that can qualify ;) ), sometimes another snatch of lyric (although I'm not one to be coy with titles, for the most part). In the case of instrumentals, the title always comes last.

 

And, in all cases, the title is often subject to change. Sometimes multiple times.

 

Titling has been a little more fixed/formal since I started a database of all my songs, since I intentionally diverged from database conventions and used the song title as an identifier. (I think the concept was to force myself to fix on one title per song and not have two and three different ones floating around. That said, DB conventions exist for a reason and... uh... you guys aren't interested, I can tell. Basically, whenever I hear myself talking about databases, I know people are not interested... usually not even clients.)

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I always name the song last, but I make sure the title is almost never a lyric from the song. Naming a song from within the lyrics seems... overdone? I don't know, lazy in a way. Just my opinion.

 

I prefer to stick with a related concept idea for the name of a song. For example, a song about a struggle with social isolation wouldn't be called "Alone", but would rather be more metaphorical, evoking the concept of quarantine or even imprisonment.

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I always name the song last, but I make sure the title is almost never a lyric from the song. Naming a song from within the lyrics seems... overdone? I don't know, lazy in a way. Just my opinion.


I prefer to stick with a related concept idea for the name of a song. For example, a song about a struggle with social isolation wouldn't be called "Alone", but would rather be more metaphorical, evoking the concept of quarantine or even imprisonment.

 

 

Funny, I think the exact opposite. Coming up with a good title and not using it as part of the lyric seems like a waste of a good title to me. I think the title should be the part of the song that people will remember. Also, more often than not, the title is the central concept that the rest of the song is built around. Everything is supposed to lead up to it. When I hear a song that doesn't mention the title, what I usually think is, "Guess they couldn't figure out what to call it."

 

As can probably be told from the above paragraph, I almost always start with a title, and I always try to make it the hook of the song. From there, I try and think about what the title could mean, and that will suggest to me what the song will be about. It's gotten to the point where I'm almost never tempted to write unless I've come up with a cool title.

 

All that said, of course I can like a song that doesn't mention the title in the lyric, if it's a good song. I don't believe there is one approach that is superior to another--what matters is the end result. Also, I suppose it depends on what genre you're working in. Country and pop music usually feature the title as a rule. In other genres, such as rock/alternative or metal, it's perfectly acceptable not to. "Smells Like Teen Spirit" certainly didn't suffer from not mentioning the title in the lyric. And that's a really cool title that I couldn't imagine beloning to any other song. It just wouldn't be the way I'd use it.

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i usually find the title of a song before i'm done writing it

 

sometimes, though, i finish and i'm not quite sure what the best title could be. in those cases i try to pick a line from the song and use it as a title

 

i wish i could come up with awesome titles that don't seem to have anything to do with the song, but i guess i don't think that way

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In the early years my writing habits (although I wrote really too little) were to start from a guitar riff or chord progression, then adding melody and lyrics along with it. The title usually came at this point.

 

Later I changed my habit so that instead of writing with the guitar in hand, I would try to write from my mind (or sometimes by improvising singing), many times I wrote while travelling on a bus, train or plane. In many cases I even wrote the lyrics first, and only thought about the music later. In these cases, to have a title as a start was actually a helpful thing. But indeed this was not a proficient time after all, since I also ended up with tons of lyrics without music, and twice as many cool titles that are still unused.

 

Nowadays we're trying to write collectively as a band, and we have yet no fixed method, it's a little bit of everything...

 

I think there is no better method, it all depends on what works for you! It's equally nice to start from the music and later ask you what does it make you think of, or to start from a title (i.e. an "image" or "concept") and then translate it into music.

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I think as you can see, everybody is different so there really are no rules or patterns to it. If you have an idea for a tune/melody - get it done, if it's a word or words that speak to you, write about it.

 

For me, that's how I usually write - with whatever comes to mind first. When I write the lyrics first though, I usually try and sing them in my head how I think i would want them to sound, then build the chords and melody around that - they are never just words.

 

Sometimes I will hear words or phrases and think "that's a cool name for a song" and I will start with that and see what happens. Most of the time I will use that as the title, but you never know what's gonna come out of the end of that pen, and sometimes I'll come up with something better as the title.

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