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How do you write songs?


Silenced Fred

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For those that make original material, how do you write a song? For me, I come up with a chord progression, bang out some lyrics, then try to come up with a melody and a solo line. I have about 5 songs in the making, with partial chord progressions, and partial lyrics.

 

The lyrics, for me, are always pertaining to something in my life. Something that actually happened, or how I feel, or whatever. I have to write from personal experience, or else the lyrics just don't work.

 

I'm wondering what everyone else does, in hopes that I will be able to work more efficiently. I want to start making some more songs...

 

Thanks

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I usually come up with a cool riff or chord progression that stands out to me as something good. Or maybe I'll think of a melody line with some lyric. Once I have one or the other I try to find a bass line, accompanying chord progression and drum groove. Once I have that I try to come up with an arrangement; intro, verse, bridge chorus, solos, chorus, verse, chorus, outro...etc. Once I have a good arrangement I plug in the rest of the words using the vocal melody line. Having all that the lyrics seem to just fall into place. Sometimes it's as if a song writes its self. Other times you have to put more work into it.

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For me (sorry for this cheesy analogy) it's kind of like a sculptor chiseling something out of a block of granite. I start off with a few riffs to get a basic form of the song, and I just keep playing them, and re-working them into something that flows well. It's kind of an organic process for me, I let the song lead me where it wants to go. Hopefully by the time I'm done, I have something that makes me want to throw the horns.

 

I used to just keep riffs in my head and try putting them together to form songs, but I found that I wound up forgetting them sometimes, or playing them in a slightly different rhythm (and that f&$%ed up the whole thing). So, now, every time I come up with something cool, I record it with my camera (I got this idea from AXE). I'm getting one of these when I get my tax return.

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For me (sorry for this cheesy analogy) it's kind of like a sculptor chiseling something out of a block of granite. I start off with a few riffs to get a basic form of the song' date=' and I just keep playing them, and re-working them into something that flows well. It's kind of an organic process for me, I let the song lead me where it wants to go. Hopefully by the time I'm done, I have something that makes me want to throw the horns.

 

I used to just keep riffs in my head and try putting them together to form songs, but I found that I wound up forgetting them sometimes, or playing them in a slightly different rhythm (and that f&$%ed up the whole thing). So, now, every time I come up with something cool, I record it with my camera (I got this idea from AXE). I'm getting one of these when I get my tax return.

 

This is pretty much my method as well....except I pretty much always have my computer running and I just jam out on riffs while recording into Pro Tools....then I continue altering and tweaking til I have a song. That said....I don't write any lyrics (apparently I have nothing to say) and solos are the death of me. I could sit there and record 1500 solos for the same song and never be happy with what I play. I'm just more of a rhythm guy!

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I pick up the guitar, start noodling around, and all of a sudden I have a song forming. Sometimes it is just one part like a riff or a few chords. Other times a full song emerges with verse, chorus, and bridge or middle part. I am certain it is spirit or ghost that writes through me and back when I indulged in foreign substances the songs would come like water over Niagara Falls. Man, I miss those days. Sometimes I make rough recordings of the material and work on second guitar parts and leads. The rehearsal space is where I flush out arrangements and dynamics. My drummer and I have been working together for so long that he has become my most trusted sounding board.

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For me (sorry for this cheesy analogy) it's kind of like a sculptor chiseling something out of a block of granite. I start off with a few riffs to get a basic form of the song' date=' and I just keep playing them, and re-working them into something that flows well. It's kind of an organic process for me, I let the song lead me where it wants to go. Hopefully by the time I'm done, I have something that makes me want to throw the horns.

 

I used to just keep riffs in my head and try putting them together to form songs, but I found that I wound up forgetting them sometimes, or playing them in a slightly different rhythm (and that f&$%ed up the whole thing). So, now, every time I come up with something cool, I record it with my camera (I got this idea from AXE). I'm getting one of these when I get my tax return.

 

Ditto for me, although I'm not very good with "getting around to" finishing songs. My brother calls me Riffmaster Rich as I can always pull something that sounds cool out of my *** to work within an existing song or start a new one. On the other hand, my brother is the one with strong musical knowledge so he's very methodical about how he writes.

 

Twiz - That recorder looks pretty sweet. I use Line 6 GuitarPort with a cheap wave editor program which makes it nice and nice and convenient to just plug into the computer, record with a sound preset and save the file with a meaningful name (meaningful to me, anyway).

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Depends on the song, really. Some start as a riff on the guitar, some start as a lyrical hook; on a couple of rare occasions, they have sprung forth fully formed... guitars, bass, drums, keys, vocals... all of it.

 

If I came up with the riff first, I'll usually go ahead and finish up the song on guitar and start playing with the arrangement. Lyrics will come when they come. Or not, and it becomes an instrumental #-o .

 

If it's a lyrical hook that started it, I write it down along with a little blurb about the idea for the tune and try to work out the rest of the song, or as much as I can. If I have no music that fits it atm, then......... the music will come when it comes. Or not :)

 

I won't bother with the other parts until I'm ready to record. back when I was in a band, I'd bring it to them and let them add their parts. I'd try to give them an idea of what I heard in my head, but I found that I often got better results if I just let them improvise.

 

Oh... and if you're writing, record EVERY time you play. You will inevitably forget that bad *** riff you played yesterday morning before you left for the day [blush]

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Kinda depends. If I am working on something for my band, I try to use a pretty simple chord progression for rhythm guitar parts. I try to do a guitar harmony on top the is in the same key as the chord progression for lead guitar and keyboard. I bring that to the band and the others throw in their parts.

 

However my prefered style is different. I never use a simple 4 chord progression because I'll get bored. If i'm bored, then the listener will be bored. So I try to keep it interesting with a prgression of at least 6 different noted and focus more on certain types of melodies rather than straight chords. I unintentionally lean towards progressive/melodic/folk death metal.

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i used to write lyrics to fit a tune and vice versa. i then realized that this approach was a bit of a comprimise on both sides - fitting lyrics into a riff/chord prog or a chord prog into lyrics. lately (last year or so) i've been writing them separately and having great success with it. all my stuff is based on the pop/rock song structure so lyrics are pretty easy to fit into any music mold by shaving off or adding a syllable or two here and there or by altering the cadence of a word.

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Lay some tasty riffs, play over and over and form a melody to riffs .... feel the power flow up and down the musical shapes... roll out some abstract words and then and only then will the gods smile onto you and let you create a perfect formula of words and melodies to the ears... our ears are like vaginas... we need to fill them with our rock hard jams! Sounds like something Jack Black would say but this is true. Keep it simple and think not technical but artistic. I started writing songs about 3 months ago and playing an instrument for the first time... I'm not tainted and this makes me a master! Being ignorant is a beautiful thing. I will be posting my music as soon as we are done in studio... TASTY!

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Lay some tasty riffs' date=' play over and over and form a melody to riffs .... feel the power flow up and down the musical shapes... roll out some abstract words and then and only then will the gods smile onto you and let you create a perfect formula of words and melodies to the ears... our ears are like vaginas... we need to fill them with our rock hard jams! Sounds like something Jack Black would say but this is true. Keep it simple and think not technical but artistic. I started writing songs about 3 months ago and playing an instrument for the first time... I'm not tainted and this makes me a master! [b']Being ignorant is a beautiful thing.[/b] I will be posting my music as soon as we are done in studio... TASTY!

 

That is one of the best things I have heard, and that has helped me a ton. When you know too much, you tend to overwork things (well at least I do) I have been learning theory, and as stupid as this may sound, I don't apply too much to my writing, it just sounds too overworked, like when an album has been "protooled", I don't like it.

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I can't read' date=' therefore can't write music. I just do it. If it sounds good to me, I keep it, and add another layer (track), and so on til it's a done deal.[/quote']

 

I can read music, but I don't. If I'm covering a song, sure. I just play stuff, put it down, record it, then play over it to add stuff and add lyrics. I just play it and see what happens.

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The last couple of songs originated by first selecting a key, then a scale in that key, then a tempo. Solos are generally adapted to a particular key, but the rhythm is sort of set in my mind. Then I try and change up the tempo and progression for the intro, bridge and outro. I am terrible at writing lyrics, so I don't even try. A buddy of mine is very creative with the lyrics, so I just tell him the theme I was thinking and he does the rest. So far, it has worked out.

 

I usually have my TASCAM 4 track recorder with me to keep my ideas straight.

 

I find I am more creative when I'm on the road, which unfortunately is a lot. I just finished another one a couple of nights ago, but didn't have a means to record it, so I played it over and over until I was able to remember it, then I scribbled it out on paper. I'll record it when I get home this weekend.

 

BTW, good idea for a thread.

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That is one of the best things I have heard' date=' and that has helped me a ton. When you know too much, you tend to overwork things (well at least I do) I have been learning theory, and as stupid as this may sound, I don't apply too much to my writing, it just sounds too overworked, like when an album has been "protooled", I don't like it.[/quote']

So glad to hear my post helped you. Last night I heard a few of my bands tracks in the studio... rough mix.... they sound great! I look forward to sharing music and I hope to hear some of your new stuff. Keep writing and don’t forget to walk away when you get frustrated... I have been showing my art for years in galleries and one thing I had to learn is to walk away and come back to it with fresh mind and ideas... don’t get stuck... it taints you.. One thing that was really cool the other day is, I was writing a song with a band mate and even though I had a melody down for this riff... and that was all I could hear when I listened to that riff and I was not 100% on melody... because I was not crazy about melody, I walked away and reset my mind to erase what it was the best I could... not only did it work but I wrote a way better melody and it totally made the song complete. That’s hard to do when you hear original idea automatic in your head… to reset and rewrite the melodies. Not sure I making much sense but I’m sure you know what I mean… know when to walk away!

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I used to record' date=' when ever I was writing, but then...it just sounded so dead and boring compared to every other bit of music I listened to, it put me off recording, because it makes me feel retarded....one guitar line....nothing else....[/quote']

 

Same here, but don't get discouraged. Record other guitar parts over it, and just have fun with it.

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Well I posted my process here. But I'll try to elaborate more here. It really depends on what I'm doing. Sometimes I can do an entire song, lyrics and melody, in less than a few hours. For example, I wrote a simple love song for my wife as our first dance song when we got married (surprised it with her) really quickly. But it was only a few chords with a very simple melody.

 

Others ones take me much longer. This could be for a lot of reasons. It could be as simple as not coming up with the right bridge. Or I could hate the solo and sit on it until I come up with one better. Or maybe I can't come up with a good melody for it. Here's an example of the later two.

 

Junkie Funkie

 

Someday I'll finish this tune up...

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