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How does your band collaborate on writing songs?


geek_usa

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We're having some trouble in our band. Not huge trouble, but just a few issues. We all bring lots of songs to the table, but we don't know how to go about finalizing them, getting them to work for everybody, etc. My bass player will bring an awesome bass riff to the table, and I can add something to it, but it stops there. The other two can't find a way to complete it.

 

Or I'll bring something to the table, and we'll mess with it for awhile, but then it will get lost in history.

 

How does your band go about writing and completing songs, and how do you all work together? Just looking for some strategies. Thanks!

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I think someone has to take the reins and act as the leader in this case. In my last band several of us wrote the songs. My bass player for instance would bring in a cool riff but not know where else to go, everyone would throw out suggestions and sometimes it would be chaos-but after a while I (or someone else depending on the day) would sort of stand back and sort of piece everyone's suggestions together to a) make everyone happy and b) to make the song sound the best it possibly could. Of course other times a song would come into the band almost completely written and make this procedure alot easier. While I think it was hard for the entire band to collaborate with each other I do remember these songs as my favorites.

 

Also, I find it's alot easier to write a song with one other band member and then bring it to the rest of the band. You may have to start this way to get the ball rolling and then ask the rest of the guys to throw in their ideas.

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Originally posted by geek_usa

We're having some trouble in our band. Not huge trouble, but just a few issues. We all bring lots of songs to the table, but we don't know how to go about finalizing them, getting them to work for everybody, etc. My bass player will bring an awesome bass riff to the table, and I can add something to it, but it stops there. The other two can't find a way to complete it.


Or I'll bring something to the table, and we'll mess with it for awhile, but then it will get lost in history.


How does your band go about writing and completing songs, and how do you all work together? Just looking for some strategies. Thanks!

 

 

I've been in bands like that before, and you end up never getting anywhere, you fiddle for a while, get maybe a verse and chorus, then it all goes wrong.

 

I think songwriting generally is a process that should be done by no more than 2 people. The others can add flavour, but the core of the work needs to be 1 (best IMO) or 2 people. That way you can stay focused.

 

I'm doing tunes on my own now and it's a revelation. When I have 4 or 5 nice tunes I'll get a band together and say 'here's what we're going to learn to play'. After that I'll write the music and I'll get someone else to write the lyrics, with no interference from anywhere else.

 

Sounds harsh, but I think it's the only way to progress.

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I do most of the writing for my band alone. I usually get a basic idea together and maybe record it by myself just to see how it fits together and then I present it to the band and it usually becomes something completely different. Or then again, sometimes it stays the same. In another band a few years ago, it was the same thing only I wasn't the 'key writer'. But in theory, anybody could do the writing and it could switch between people, but instead of just bringing one riff to practice, bring a whole set of riffs and see what happens when you put em together with the band.

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Usually what my band does, since I'm the chief songwriter, but my singer also does writing, is we work on our songs totally on our own.

 

When we come to practices the song is essentially complete with lyrics, chords, and a general vocal melody in mind. What we make up there is basslines, additional guitar, solos, vocal harmonies, drumming, and we fix up anything lyrically or melodically that can be improved.

 

Essentially I have an acoustic version with just guitar and vocals for every song we do because that's how I come up with the basic music structure of each song.

 

Usually if my band doesn't like a song, we work on something else, I go home, redo the bad parts, and next practice we take a look at it again, or we just scrap it entirely.

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Every member of the band doesn't have to co-write on every song. That's not the way it usually works. Lennon and Macartney didn't really write all of those songs together. Most of the songs credited to "The Doors" weren't actually written by the whole band.

And if you have some rule that everyone has to co-write it will weaken the song writing. If three members add interesting strong parts and the fourth member adds a dull weak part then the song is brought down. If a member doesn't have anything to add don't worry about it.

But maybe you're talking more about arrangements -

The drummer comes up with his own part, the keyboard player puts together a keyboard part that he wants to play, and that helps the song, etc. ---- That's different ---- that's arrangement, and a lot of bands do it the way you're describing, with each person adding their own part.

But you're still left with a problem: if some of your band members can't come up with their own parts you will either have to suggest ideas to them or find more creative people to play with.

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