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so how do you go about writing songs?


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I've been making stuff up for a long time, but I've just recently got real into the process especially lyric wise.

 

Basically what i'll do is one of three things:

 

a: write a musical piece, start with guitar since that's my main instrument, and get it all done and worry about lyrics later. I'll sometimes use my toneport to record ideas so as not to forget, but I never write stuff out. I'm lazy that way. then I'll get everything done instrumentally and then write specific lyrics.

 

B: get all my instruments done and take some lyrics written previously with no music in mind and make them fit

 

C: write some lyrics and music out in my head and put it all together at once. This has only happened twice, but It was cool and this is probably the proper way?

 

How do you guys go about it?

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1.For me a lyric or story will pop in my head. Then add guitar. Other instruments later by others. Usually all guitar

 

2.Other times I have good chord progression and will add lyrics to that.

 

3. When all that fails call some friends with their guitars and we whine about the biatchs that screwed us over and put it to chords.

 

We call it blues. The neighbors call it annoying.

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Depends - The most common way for me lately is playing the guitar and then adding vocal melodies over it. I tend to naturally write in a song format. Some of the common paths I've taken

 

Path 1

1. Vocal melody pops in my head. I record it immediately by any means necessary.

2. I pick up the guitar and try to add to it. I keep playing until a song has evolved.

3. I record the demo and start playing around with samples and FX on the computer.

 

Path 2

1. I'm just playing the guitar, with no intentions of writing a song and it just happens. Something I playing stands out to me.

2. I try to sing over it, if the part isn't too complicated to sing with, I record immediately then try to sing over the recording

 

Path 3 - this one is the least common, but has produced our most popular song.

1. Sit on the computer and play around with samples or electronic arrangements

2. Add guitars and/or vocals

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Since I'm not a singer by any stretch of the imagination, I'll usually compose the melody on an instrument. This gives me an impetus to try and make the melody "extra catchy", since instruments generally can't get away with the same sort of inflections that a voice can (unless you're Jeff Beck). After that, I'll put chords behind it and fill it in that way.

 

Sometimes I'll come up with a riff and put a melody on top of that. On rare occasions, I'll do something nerdy and come up with a theory concept to base a song on - like writing a song in 5/4, or using a chord progression based on harmonic minor, etc.

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I usually come across a chord progression or riff as I am messing around and if it is good then I put it into Guitar Pro 5 for safe keeping and play back. play back is especially important for getting the vocals over those hard to play riffs. Once I have the vocals I can work on doing them at the same time. My lyrics usually start as a hummed/mumbled melody and I write according to what the music dictates. I wish I could do it the other way around!!! create the music around the lyrics. I have tried writing a short story to get my mind going. this has helped for some of my more metaphorical songs.

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Mine come to me in one of five ways:

1. I'm sitting there with my acoustic and find a chord progression that feels good, so I start singing over it to see what I can come up with, and lyrical ideas are fleshed out later.

2. I have a topical idea for a song, so I sit with the guitar and use a simple chord progression to help me find a suitable melody I can stand, then I pattern the lyrics based on what fits.

3. I'm messing around with some other instrument (usually piano) and I find a chord progression I like and try to play it cleanly (which is usually a challenge) so I can figure out some good melodic ideas to throw over it.

4. I start building a rhythm track with loops in ACID until I'm satisfied with the layering, and then I find ways to mess it up by adding guitars or vocals or bass parts (my instrumental music is usually created this way).

5. I have a melody in my head and I write lyrics to it, then I figure out the chords that go with it later - sometimes this is a bitch sandwich, and to me this is the hardest way to write.

 

Finding inspiration and time is the hardest part for me. Sometimes I force inspiration and say "I'm going to write a song now" and write something - many of the more recent songs on my site are that way (Jellybox, Miserable Bastard, the one I wrote for my wife that doesn't really have a title, My Heart, and The Path Of Eternity were all "I'm writing RIGHT NOW" songs).

 

Brian

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Since I play guitar I will just be messing around and pick something I like.

 

I get put on the spot a lot and that works for me well.

 

My singer will come with his melody and we'll trade ideas on his melodies as well as my guitar work.

 

The more people you have (open minded) the chances of succeeding in writing will increase IMHO.

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i don't go about. they just pop up out of nowhere. Incomplete, totally random bits. That's the stuff I tend to work on most. They stay incomplete for a long time, i'm working with a melody here that I have had now for almost a year. It's coming along quite nicely as a song though, I recorded a really rough sketch and it's about 5:30 long. but while I wait for the rest of it to come naturally I'll do other stuff. I have something I've been writing for about 3 or 4 weeks, and it's almost complete, just need to work out those crappy vocals and it's done. 4 weeks is quick for me.

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If I was any good at songwriting I wouldn't be working at the Post Office. But that won't stop me from venturing an opinion.

 

Great songs are intensely personal. We hinder our songwriting when we protect our fragile egos. Pride must yield to truth if one is to write a real song.

 

I'd venture to say most of the songs that get finished start as an idea, then a phrase that accurately expresses that idea emerges ("I Hope You Dance"), and then verses are written as supporting documentation. By the time you've got the title, the song is pretty much done - all you have to do is write it down.

 

I can write a "song" on guitar very easily. I just have a lot of trouble fleshing it out with words. I have songs I've written over the course of several years, and songs I've written in two days. The ones I've written in two days were pretty much finished before I ever picked up a guitar.

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bobc,

 

I'm almost embarrassed to say this on a public forum, but I listened to the songs on your MySpace page and I'm absolutely knocked out by how much you've got going for you.

First, if you think your voice "sucks", somebody else must have sung those songs, because the voice I heard is full, rich, expressive, and on pitch. If it's you singing, and you think it sucks, then I hate to break it to you, friend, but you've got a hearing defect.

Second, your guitar-playing is wonderful. The timing is dead-on (except for that one little hesitation in "Hey Dreamer", which only indicates that you didn't make any effort to hide anything), and when I say "dead-on" I mean steady enough to satisfy any professional recording engineer or producer. In addition, your performance on guitar is surprisingly flawless. No unintended variation in dynamics, nothing to distract the listener from what you are saying in the song. Nothing showy or self-indulgent. I can't imagine listening to you at an open mic night and thinking, "I wonder who's next".

Third, you can write. And so can your sister. If somebody asked me, "What does bobc do best?", I'd have to say, "Everything!"

 

I'm a very critical listener, and I didn't hear anything weak in any of those songs. I listened to all of them, all the way through, and the only thing you failed to do was disappoint. Even the recording was well done! Right down to the echo on the voice. Sounds like it was done in an empty church.

You come across as humble, gentle, and genuine. Rare qualities, indeed. Particularly in musicians. Very refreshing. Levittown must be a tough market, because here in Bloomington people would be paying to see you play.

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bobc,


I'm almost embarrassed to say this on a public forum, but I listened to the songs on your MySpace page and I'm absolutely knocked out by how much you've got going for you.

First, if you think your voice "sucks", somebody else must have sung those songs, because the voice I heard is full, rich, expressive, and on pitch. If it's you singing, and you think it sucks, then I hate to break it to you, friend, but you've got a hearing defect.

Second, your guitar-playing is wonderful. The timing is dead-on (except for that one little hesitation in "Hey Dreamer", which only indicates that you didn't make any effort to hide anything), and when I say "dead-on" I mean steady enough to satisfy any professional recording engineer or producer. In addition, your performance on guitar is surprisingly flawless. No unintended variation in dynamics, nothing to distract the listener from what you are saying in the song. Nothing showy or self-indulgent. I can't imagine listening to you at an open mic night and thinking, "I wonder who's next".

Third, you can write. And so can your sister. If somebody asked me, "What does bobc do best?", I'd have to say, "Everything!"


I'm a very critical listener, and I didn't hear anything weak in any of those songs. I listened to all of them, all the way through, and the only thing you failed to do was disappoint. Even the recording was well done! Right down to the echo on the voice. Sounds like it was done in an empty church.

You come across as humble, gentle, and genuine. Rare qualities, indeed. Particularly in musicians. Very refreshing. Levittown must be a tough market, because here in Bloomington people would be paying to see you play.

 

 

Wow!!!

 

I am very flattered by your post. I am definately gaining alot of confidence in my voice by getting peoples oppinions on it, and starting to realize that maybe I'm being too critical of myself.

 

Thank you very much for your comments. They realy make me feel GREAT, and alot less sensative about my voice.

 

Thank you.

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75% of the time I write from the lyrics out. How do they feel? How should they be expressed? Things like that.

 

25% of the time I find a riff (or a diddly doo as I so manly call it) and write to that mood. Whatever it may be.

 

 

What I like doing, being a better guitar player than anything else, is start a song on a different instrument. It is amazing the different total sound you can acheive.

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I've only done a small number of songs so far, and only gotten one fully to fruition and working on the second. So my methods may well change over time.

 

But I go out for a walk most days (or nights) to get some fresh air and exercise. My brain usually runs in neutral during that time (well, more so than usual I mean), and I'm always kind of thinking and some line will some to me. And that line will kind of contain the seed of a concept for a song. And then on subsequent walks I'll just kind of roll it around in my head and work out some more lines, and kind of test it out in my head to see if it's viable.

 

At that point, I know basically what the song is going to be about and that leads me towards thinking about what kind of music would suit it. I listen to a lot of favorite music and kind scan for ideas until I find one whose production I feel would be good for what I'm going for. Then I start working on actually writing out the lyrics. A couple have died at this point, for lack of ability to really turn them into something viable.

 

At this point, I'm at the point where I've only gotten a couple times so far (since I'm kind of new to this), but for my current piece, I've worked it out with just simple rhythm guitar and laid that down as a guide track. Now I'm on to tracking (drums, then bass, then guitars, etc...) based on that guide track and where I know the lyrics are going to fit into that.

 

Working out that guide track and singing the tune out to figure out the melody really has helped me a lot. Once that's there I can really start to think about the production in very concrete terms and really work out in my head how it's going to sound. That'll be hugely more efficient than the previous effort where I just kind of let it evolve over time, and re-tracked all the parts many times as I discovered how the parts would transition, the breaks, where the lyrics would go and therefore how to support them, etc... It was a long and brutal process.

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Angelo,


Would you mind describing more fully your method for composing the song?

 

 

I have to think about how to answer that question. A good idea would be that I explain a particular song and what work was done from the first idea to completed. There are multitudes of variables how a song is made from beginning to end. Each song asks for different "methods" - I would not call it methods, but maybe concentration and decision-making. The work to be done until a song is finished follows, or better bows, to what a particular song requires until everything is composed and arranged. I have to come back to this next week, to much stress right now, we have an unusual amount of work this week.

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Wow!!!


I am very flattered by your post. I am definately gaining alot of confidence in my voice by getting peoples oppinions on it, and starting to realize that maybe I'm being too critical of myself.


Thank you very much for your comments. They realy make me feel GREAT, and alot less sensative about my voice.


Thank you.

 

I agree with r.string....the playing is very serene and your vocals remind me a little of Randy Travis. He hasn't done too badly in the music biz. ;)

 

You should keep at it.....and keep staying away from those evil drugs.

:thu:

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It works many different ways for our band. Lyrics sort have of always been the last thing that develops.

 

Organic - Music will make lyrics.

 

1. (most of the time) We like to get the music and the vocal melodies straightened out, feel the vibe off the song, rehearse it a bunch of time at our space, and then I'll find myself singing certain words that reflect the mood of the song. Lyrics will then develop in sort of a organic way.

 

2. Otherwise, sometimes I will have a story or message to be told, write down lyrics, try and sing them in a melody, and then call my brother over and he will put a guitar to it.

 

We play want to write 3-5 chord songs built on tight vocal melodies and harmonies. So we sometimes confine ourselves to this while the magic happens.

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