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Old 09-16-2012, 01:45 PM   #1
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Simple Song Writing Strategies


I started a recent thread in the Backstage area about what is more important to each of us - Great technical chops, or the ability to write our own songs. Now, I don't consider myself some amazing songwriter, but I've never had much interest in figuring out other people's songs, beyond a few riffs I like a lot.

Almost from the beginning of my musical journey, I've tried to write my own material, or worked with other people to write original songs.

I'm not in any way bagging on those of us that primarily play music to learn other people's material, bt I was surprised how many people said they had no interest, or never wrote their own stuff.

writing songs is another musical skill that can be developed over time, like any other, and it's brought me such satisfaction over the years, that I thought 'd share a few of my own processes for doing it.

now again, I'm not some godlike songwriter, and these tips may only work for me, but I hope they might help others take the plunge into at least trying to write a song of their own.

there are also a lot of very talented people on these forums, and I hope that others might chime in with their own tips, or vids.

also, as noted several times, there are plenty of bum notes and mistakes in the vid - It doesn't represent my best technical playing, and I did't warm up or edit it, so it's sloppy. Still, I hope my take on things might be of value to someone else.
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Old 09-17-2012, 11:39 AM   #2
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Re: Simple Song Writing Strategies

Good idea for a video Skin. (nice pin-striped pants too, now we gotta get you a dress shirt and vest. )

Taking an existing riff or melody and twisting them into something new is definitely a guitar tradition.

I do that sometimes, or I'll be playing a solo type lick and like the melody and decide that lick should be a riff. So,...drop it down a couple octaves and chunk it up. ...usually works.

Sometimes I hear the vocal melody in my head and have to figure out the chords.
Sometimes I hear the chords/riff and have to figure out the melody.

Sometime I hear the whole song (w/ band) and I have to figure it out fast before the song fades away.

and sometimes I hear the whole song and it wont stop playing in my head until I figure it out. Like a tenacious thing that won't leave me alone.

Lots of ways to write songs really.

Helps if you have some kind of 'template' in mind. Will it be a blues song? Rock song? Metal song? Pop song?

They're all arranged differently of course.

But generally once you have one or two parts or riffs, you can start constructing them into something.

Writing and completely a song and running it through from start to finish is a great feeling.

Never gets old.
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Old 09-17-2012, 04:45 PM   #3
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Re: Simple Song Writing Strategies

Sometimes when i get stuck in a rut, i try to build around a drum beat/riff in my head and how the small transitions would go around and in between.. And i can't reiterate enough the need to have a recorder with which you save a riff you just made. Cause there are times when you think youve just nailed that most face-melting riff and you forget it the next second.. HTH
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Old 09-17-2012, 04:56 PM   #4
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Re: Simple Song Writing Strategies

Quote:
Originally Posted by Malikon View Post
Good idea for a video Skin. (nice pin-striped pants too, now we gotta get you a dress shirt and vest. )

Taking an existing riff or melody and twisting them into something new is definitely a guitar tradition.

I do that sometimes, or I'll be playing a solo type lick and like the melody and decide that lick should be a riff. So,...drop it down a couple octaves and chunk it up. ...usually works.

Sometimes I hear the vocal melody in my head and have to figure out the chords.
Sometimes I hear the chords/riff and have to figure out the melody.

Sometime I hear the whole song (w/ band) and I have to figure it out fast before the song fades away.

and sometimes I hear the whole song and it wont stop playing in my head until I figure it out. Like a tenacious thing that won't leave me alone.

Lots of ways to write songs really.

Helps if you have some kind of 'template' in mind. Will it be a blues song? Rock song? Metal song? Pop song?

They're all arranged differently of course.

But generally once you have one or two parts or riffs, you can start constructing them into something.

Writing and completely a song and running it through from start to finish is a great feeling.

Never gets old.
Agreed on all points!

And the pants are pajamas. When I relax, I super relax.
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Old 09-17-2012, 04:58 PM   #5
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Re: Simple Song Writing Strategies

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Originally Posted by emptyisvarah View Post
Sometimes when i get stuck in a rut, i try to build around a drum beat/riff in my head and how the small transitions would go around and in between.. And i can't reiterate enough the need to have a recorder with which you save a riff you just made. Cause there are times when you think youve just nailed that most face-melting riff and you forget it the next second.. HTH
Indeed...malways pays to keep some sort of recording device handy. I find that I'll come up with a riff or part I like, but if I don't record it right away, I might forget the original rhythm that made it interesting.

Good point about using drums as a jump off point as well.
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Old 09-17-2012, 05:43 PM   #6
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Re: Simple Song Writing Strategies

"Where can I go from that?"

Those are the keys words here, for my money. When it comes to songwriting, one thing I've seen about most players is that they can come up with killer riffs, but they don't ask that crucial question, “what’s next?” One riff does not a song make. You have to map out something of a journey, not the whole thing, and sometimes it all comes to you in a flash.

I try first to have the riff, chord progression, or lick fit my mood: upbeat, downcast, pensive, or carefree. Sometimes when I write a song, I have the title first: “Going Tharn” on my soundcloud is one of those. “Tharn” was a word from Richard Adams’s Watership Down, describing animals in that mental state of being caught on the road in the headlights, about to be run down, and I wanted to write something killer, that just ran you over and didn’t look back. No lyrics for that, because when you’re being run over, you don’t have time to think about words or any of that crap. I didn’t want the listener to think, at all. Just a strong riff, running fast.

Other times, I have a line or lyric first. “The Aftermath” was a song like that. The thing that kicked it off was the thought that occurred to me with a breakup: There’s a seed of pain in every friendship you find, that you know will bloom when you leave it behind. The rhyme made it a natural line, and the main riff of the song was me doing what Skinny talks about in his wonderful video in the OP, trying to cop the feel of another song – in that case, the Church.

In both these cases, another part or two is obviously needed – you’ll feel it when you get to that point: “That’s cool stuff, but what’s next?” Skinny’s question, “Where can I go from that?” is the crux of the matter. Because at that point what you have to be able to do is change the song without losing the vibe. Too little change, and it all sounds like a drone, and not a song. Too much change, and it sounds like you’re trying to get Beethoven and James Brown drunk and in bed together. You have to have a happy medium between the two extremes. There’s many ways to do this.

You can change the tempo. You can change the key. You can change the beat. You can do all three at the same time. Or, if you want to drill your mood into the listener’s ears, you can not change at all, even though every sense screams that you should be changing – because that too is a mood. I like to modulate to different keys, and I like halving time in fast numbers. Another thing I like for introducing different feels is syncopation. Keep in mind that some of these tips don’t mean **** until you’re recording your music, too. I will write a song sometimes just strumming a guitar and writing lyrics, and it only gets fleshed out when I hit the red light.

And when it comes to lyrics, I prefer a style that economizes words but doesn’t scrimp on imagery. Some guys like their lyrics simple and straightforward, others like to be florid and poetic, but I’m in between: I want the most bang for the buck out of the fewest words. I wrote a song once, called “Home Again” that was five minutes+ long. The only lyrics:

Quote:
The night fell. We were holding hands,
gazing into distant lands. I remember thinking that
The strands that tied us together would never break.
Seeing the stars in your eyes by the lake
Takes me home again.
I wanted to write more, because I thought that a song shouldn’t be that short lyrically, but it said everything I wanted to say.

Then there are other times when the entire thing comes to you in a flash, and your biggest job as a songwriter is to get out of your own way. The best songs I've written, in my own opinion, are the ones that came out quickest.

At the end of the day, writing a song is a journey. You are taking a trip yourself, and you are reporting it to your listeners. If you do your job right, you’re evoking in them the feelings that were inside you when you were inspired. In that sense, a well-written song is like a photograph, an emotional photograph. As a songwriter, your job is to convey your emotions, to report them in such a manner that your listener feels them directly. The music and lyric should both work together to that end.
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Last edited by Thumpalumpacus; 09-17-2012 at 06:30 PM.
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Old 09-17-2012, 06:18 PM   #7
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Re: Simple Song Writing Strategies

Quote:
Originally Posted by Thumpalumpacus View Post
"Where can I go from that?"

Those are the keys words here, for my money. When it comes to songwriting, one thing I've seen about most players is that they can come up with killer riffs, but they don't ask that crucial question, “what’s next?” One riff does not a song make. You have to map out something of a journey, not the whole thing, and sometimes it all comes to you in a flash.

I try first to have the riff, chord progression, or lick fit my mood: upbeat, downcast, pensive, or carefree. Sometimes when I write a song, O have the title first: “Going Tharn” on my soundcloud is one of those. “Tharn” was a word from Richard Adams’s Watership Down, describing animals in that mental state of being caught on the road in the headlights, about to be run down, and I wanted to write something killer, that just ran you over and didn’t look back. No lyrics for that, because when you’re being run over, you don’t have time to think about words or any of that crap. I didn’t want the listener to think, at all. Just a strong riff, running fast.

Other times, I have a line or lyric first. “The Aftermath” was a song like that. The thing that kicked it off was the thought that occurred to me with a breakup: There’s a seed of pain in every friendship you find, that you know will bloom when you leave it behind. The rhyme made it a natural line, and the main riff of the song was me doing what Skinny talks about in his wonderful video in the OP, trying to cop the feel of another song – in that case, the Church.

In both these cases, another part or two is obviously needed – you’ll feel it when you get to that point: “That’s cool stuff, but what’s next?” Skinny’s question, “Where can I go from that?” is the crux of the matter. Because at that point what you have to be able to do is change the song without losing the vibe. Too little change, and it all sounds like a drone, and not a song. Too much change, and it sounds like you’re trying to get Beethoven and James Brown drunk and in bed together. You have to have a happy medium between the two extremes. There’s many ways to do this.

You can change the tempo. You can change the key. You can change the beat. You can do all three at the same time. Or, if you want to drill your mood into the listener’s ears, you can not change at all, even though every sense screams that you should be changing – because that too is a mood. I like to modulate to different keys, and I like halving time in fast numbers. Another thing I like for introducing different feels is syncopation. Keep in mind that some of these tips don’t mean **** until you’re recording your music, too. I will write a song sometimes just strumming a guitar and writing lyrics, and it only gets fleshed out when I hit the red light.

And when it comes to lyrics, I prefer a style that economizes words but doesn’t scrimp on imagery. Some guys like their lyrics simple and straightforward, others like to be florid and poetic, but I’m in between: I want the most bang for the buck out of the fewest words. I wrote a song once, called “Home Again” that was five minutes+ long. The only lyrics:



I wanted to write more, because I thought that a song shouldn’t be that short lyrically, but it said everything I wanted to say.

Then there are other times when the entire thing comes to you in a flash, and your biggest job as a songwriter is to get out of your own way. The best songs I've written, in my own opinion, are the ones that came out quickest.

At the end of the day, writing a song is a journey. You are taking a trip yourself, and you are reporting it to your listeners. If you do your job right, you’re evoking in them the feelings that were inside you when you were inspired. In that sense, a well-written song is like a photograph, an emotional photograph. As a songwriter, your job is to convey your emotions, to report them in such a manner that your listener feels them directly. The music and lyric should both work together to that end.
Great info Thump! Absolutely agreed. Every song IS a journey, and it's just a matter of finding the best path to begin from, and then to complete that journey.
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Old 09-17-2012, 06:51 PM   #8
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Re: Simple Song Writing Strategies

The starting point is the most important part, in my experience. It's what writers say about the blank page being most intimidating -- well, when it comes to writing songs, I think almost anyone can do it, but they have to get past that stage of thinking "I can't do this".

You have to believe that what you have to say is worth hearing. That was the hardest part, for me -- getting over the internal critic who told me that it wasn't good enough, that what I had to say was not worth it. But one day I figured out that if I wrote a song and it wasn't any good, no one had to hear it, and I still learned something.
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Old 09-17-2012, 08:57 PM   #9
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Re: Simple Song Writing Strategies

I think that it was Willie Nelson that said something to the effect that songs... All sorts of songs, are just "waiting" there for someone to grab them and set them free.

I really believe that too. And like we all seem to be saying, for most of us, the most difficult thing to do is to just loosen up, silence that inner critic for awhile, and grab a starting point. Personally, once I've got the germ of an idea to start with, I usually find a bunch of other related ideas start to flow really quickly.

Of course, not all of them, or even most of them are "good" ideas, but a few usually are, and it's not that difficult to block out a rough song idea to work on and develop.

That's why I find it hard to understand... And I'm not judging...But whenever I hear someone say that they aren't creative enough to write original material, or have no interest in it, I just think that they probably could free the writer inside, and would probably find it a rewarding experience.

That's why I always advise using a simple scale pattern or common riff that a person has learned, as sort of a launch pad for developing original ideas. It's definitely not the only way to begin, but I think it's a good way to develop our own ideas.
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Old 09-17-2012, 09:28 PM   #10
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Re: Simple Song Writing Strategies

I honestly think that everyone has a songwriter in them, but they're intimidated by their own expectations of what it means to be a "good songwriter", or worried about trying to impress other people -- and they don't realize that songwriting is like anything else:

you have to practice it; the more you practice, the better you do it; listening to inspiration is a skill you can learn; and if you never try it, you'll never know.

Sometimes songs are antenna events -- they come like on radio waves, and all I do is stick my antenna up. Other times they're work, and I have to work through them.

I have a song, a classical-guitar instrumental, that took four years to write. I wrote the first 32 bars over the course of a month or so, and then hit a dead end -- couldn't make anything happen. I'd play those 32 bars to warm up my fingerpicking chops, and hope for lightning to hit again. Sure enough, it did a couple of years later: I heard a post-modernist harmony, and went with it. That opened it up, and about twenty more hours of work finished it.

Sometimes, it's pure creativity. Sometimes, it's scutwork.

Most of the time, it's a combination of both -- 10% inspiration and 90% perspiration, or whatever values you want to assign it. But what you're saying, that we often block our own inspirations, is very true.
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Old 09-17-2012, 09:56 PM   #11
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Re: Simple Song Writing Strategies

Quote:
Originally Posted by Thumpalumpacus View Post
I honestly think that everyone has a songwriter in them, but they're intimidated by their own expectations of what it means to be a "good songwriter", or worried about trying to impress other people -- and they don't realize that songwriting is like anything else:

you have to practice it; the more you practice, the better you do it; listening to inspiration is a skill you can learn; and if you never try it, you'll never know.

Sometimes songs are antenna events -- they come like on radio waves, and all I do is stick my antenna up. Other times they're work, and I have to work through them.

I have a song, a classical-guitar instrumental, that took four years to write. I wrote the first 32 bars over the course of a month or so, and then hit a dead end -- couldn't make anything happen. I'd play those 32 bars to warm up my fingerpicking chops, and hope for lightning to hit again. Sure enough, it did a couple of years later: I heard a post-modernist harmony, and went with it. That opened it up, and about twenty more hours of work finished it.

Sometimes, it's pure creativity. Sometimes, it's scutwork.

Most of the time, it's a combination of both -- 10% inspiration and 90% perspiration, or whatever values you want to assign it. But what you're saying, that we often block our own inspirations, is very true.
Absolutely. I think that many people think that writing a song is beyond them, not realizing that it's a skill that can be developed like any other.

And I agree... I have rough song ideas that are almost 20 years old... Once in a while, like a bolt of lightening out of the blue, I'll have a bit of inspiration, and figure out what the missing piece of the puzzle is. Other times, they continue to ferment.

And sometimes ideas just flow, and a decent skeleton of a song or two will fly out like it's nothing. But the main thing is to consistently try to write, and to find the process that best works for each individual.
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Old 09-17-2012, 10:03 PM   #12
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Re: Simple Song Writing Strategies

I was telling Rob last week about a song I'd written once, one of my best songs: the lyrics came to me in about ten minutes, before the music -- and then I got home, scribbled the lyrics down, grabbed my Lester, and five minutes after that the song was done. One of my own best, and one I can play today just right even though I haven't played it in five years -- because it's there, it's in me.

Songs like that, I don't feel like I have any credit at all, they just landed on me. The only skill at that point on my part was knowing when to STFU and listen, y'know?
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Old 09-17-2012, 10:08 PM   #13
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Re: Simple Song Writing Strategies

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I was telling Rob last week about a song I'd written once, one of my best songs: the lyrics came to me in about ten minutes, before the music -- and then I got home, scribbled the lyrics down, grabbed my Lester, and five minutes after that the song was done. One of my own best, and one I can play today just right even though I haven't played it in five years -- because it's there, it's in me.

Songs like that, I don't feel like I have any credit at all, they just landed on me. The only skill at that point on my part was knowing when to STFU and listen, y'know?
Absolutely. It's nice when one just flows through you like YOU'RE the instrument, and it had to get out.
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Old 09-19-2012, 12:13 AM   #14
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Re: Simple Song Writing Strategies

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Personally, once I've got the germ of an idea to start with, I usually find a bunch of other related ideas start to flow really quickly.
or you'll find that one riff that's been sitting in your tool box for years, finally has the home it's been waiting for.
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Old 09-19-2012, 12:21 AM   #15
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Re: Simple Song Writing Strategies

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or you'll find that one riff that's been sitting in your tool box for years, finally has the home it's been waiting for.
I heard that. I've got stuff that's been waiting for the right world for twenty years.
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Old 09-19-2012, 12:26 AM   #16
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Re: Simple Song Writing Strategies

Preach it.

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Old 09-19-2012, 12:38 AM   #17
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Re: Simple Song Writing Strategies

I've written songs for years now just as a hobby and, it gives me great further encouragement and entertainment to see others write their own material. This thread makes me feel right at home with all that I've read on here. The beautiful thing about it is that there are no set rules on how to do it. I encourage all who play to try to create their own. I also do covers like many others but, I find after you've put together so much of your own stuff, you begin to become closer to your own material. I find the tunes further grow and develope along the way the more you play them.
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Old 09-19-2012, 08:33 PM   #18
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Re: Simple Song Writing Strategies

One thing that puzzles me is that it seems almost like writing songs would be a natural progression for ANY musician beyond a certain point... I mean, most of us learn the basics by trying to learn licks, patterns, or in many cases entire songs written by others... When noodling around during those exercises, doesn't almost everyone stumble on a new idea almost by accident, that they might want to use?

A cool riff, or chord progression created by experimenting and woodshedding would seem to be an almost universal experience to me.

When a person works out a solo to play over someone else's song, or comes up with something interesting while jamming with other people, that's a form of writing.

It's not that hard to push a little farther, and attempt to write a whole song from scratch.
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Old 09-19-2012, 08:45 PM   #19
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Re: Simple Song Writing Strategies

I don't know. I notice that this thread, which is a wonderful topic near and dear to my heart, is going very slow, which tells me that there are very few here who are interested enough in songwriting to discuss it in a thread.

Another possibility is that some musicians don't hear the potential a mistake or a noodle has for becoming a song.

I know that I wrote my first riff the very first day I owned a guitar, at 13, because I didn't know anything, and I still wanted to play the thing. I can still play that riff, too. It's so simple and banal that I would never use it in a song. But I don't understand not exploring.
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Old 09-19-2012, 11:24 PM   #20
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Re: Simple Song Writing Strategies

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I don't know. I notice that this thread, which is a wonderful topic near and dear to my heart, is going very slow, which tells me that there are very few here who are interested enough in songwriting to discuss it in a thread.

Another possibility is that some musicians don't hear the potential a mistake or a noodle has for becoming a song.

I know that I wrote my first riff the very first day I owned a guitar, at 13, because I didn't know anything, and I still wanted to play the thing. I can still play that riff, too. It's so simple and banal that I would never use it in a song. But I don't understand not exploring.
I think you may be right. I have absolutely nothing against guys that primarily play to learn covers or whatever... I don't understand that path real well, but I think it's valid.

In a way, it might be that putting a song you wrote "out there" is scary and intimidating to many people. Learning a famous song note for note can be satisfying, impressive to others, and much less likely to be critiqued harshly if it doesn't go over well.

Me? I've spent years looking for ways to write better, and to make songs "appear" to me, so song writing is my main focus as a player.
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Old 09-19-2012, 11:48 PM   #21
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Re: Simple Song Writing Strategies

I just think of random things, and fixate on that for lyrics. If I can't come up with a good riff, I will put the lyrics into a melody and build a riff off that. If I have a riff I like then I will put lyrics to it and try to fit something to it. I don't listen to music at the time either, I think it's better to have a clear mind when writing. All the great writers of the past 60yrs all have different methods, ideas when it comes to writing. I think its just a matter of "doing it" and not thinking about it too much.
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Old 09-19-2012, 11:59 PM   #22
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Re: Simple Song Writing Strategies

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I think you may be right. I have absolutely nothing against guys that primarily play to learn covers or whatever... I don't understand that path real well, but I think it's valid.

In a way, it might be that putting a song you wrote "out there" is scary and intimidating to many people. Learning a famous song note for note can be satisfying, impressive to others, and much less likely to be critiqued harshly if it doesn't go over well.

Me? I've spent years looking for ways to write better, and to make songs "appear" to me, so song writing is my main focus as a player.


I do both. I've never had any success on original material. I can't say I've given it my full effort ... the bands I was in, we would work originals into a set of covers, but we were never 100% original.

But as a musician, writing is absolutely a huge part of it. Whether the songs get heard or not doesn't matter much to me. That they get written is very important -- I use that as a form of coming to grips with what I experience, a kind of a processing tool.

It was really scary for me putting up my SoundCloud stuff here, because the talent here is phenomenal, and I think I'm pretty normal in being very aware of my own flaws -- but what's the worst you guys can do? Ask for your money back? This is a hell of a lot easier than a hostile club crowd, to me.
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Old 09-20-2012, 03:59 AM   #23
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Re: Simple Song Writing Strategies

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Old 09-20-2012, 04:16 AM   #24
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Re: Simple Song Writing Strategies

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One thing that puzzles me is that it seems almost like writing songs would be a natural progression for ANY musician beyond a certain point... I mean, most of us learn the basics by trying to learn licks, patterns, or in many cases entire songs written by others... When noodling around during those exercises, doesn't almost everyone stumble on a new idea almost by accident, that they might want to use?

A cool riff, or chord progression created by experimenting and woodshedding would seem to be an almost universal experience to me.

When a person works out a solo to play over someone else's song, or comes up with something interesting while jamming with other people, that's a form of writing.

It's not that hard to push a little farther, and attempt to write a whole song from scratch.
I agree this seems like a natural chain of events to me. But it's worth remembering that - before the Beatles - playing music and writing music were two different professions (except in jazz, I guess, and even there player-composers were rare).
The Beatles turned the whole business upside down. "Write their own songs? How dare they!" (The nice story about their first single was that - like any new act - they were given a professionally written song to record. But they supposedly played it deliberately badly, because they wanted to do their own song. And George Martin had the intelligence to see they were good enough. The song they rejected became the first number one for Gerry and The Pacemakers, a few months later.)

Until the Beatles showed it could be done successfully (and then some!), it was quite natural to trust professional songwriters to deliver the material; they knew what they were doing, just as singers knew their job. You wouldn't ask Elvis to write a song, any more than you'd ask Lieber and Stoller to sing one. No one thought any less of Frank Sinatra for not writing songs - or of (say) Joe Pass for playing standards rather than his own tunes.

But of course once the Beatles made it big with their own tunes, EVERYONE thought they could do the same. Some could (Jagger-Richard for one); some couldn't.
And in a sense, once everyone writes their own songs, then that becomes the norm, even if the songs aren't very good (or rather, have different criteria to those of the old Tin Pan Alley writers). All that matters is what's "cool", not what's "good". Or rather, what's "cool" IS "good", by definition.
The bands that came up in the 1960s knew just what kind of music they wanted to play. And it sure wasn't 1950s pop! There was no option but to write it themselves, even if that just meant jamming aimlessly for a while until something catchy turned up.
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Old 09-20-2012, 04:28 AM   #25
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Re: Simple Song Writing Strategies

I'll add a tip.
"the worst song you write yourself will always be light years better than a note perfect rendition of someone else's song"

dunno how many times I've seen this used in a derogatory way but it's ridiculously true.


writing music isn't rocket science and when you do there's no reason to reinvent the wheel.
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Old 09-20-2012, 04:32 AM   #26
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Re: Simple Song Writing Strategies

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I don't know. I notice that this thread, which is a wonderful topic near and dear to my heart, is going very slow, which tells me that there are very few here who are interested enough in songwriting to discuss it in a thread.

Another possibility is that some musicians don't hear the potential a mistake or a noodle has for becoming a song.

I know that I wrote my first riff the very first day I owned a guitar, at 13, because I didn't know anything, and I still wanted to play the thing. I can still play that riff, too. It's so simple and banal that I would never use it in a song. But I don't understand not exploring.
Me too. When I had my first guitar (age 16) I wrote four tunes in the first week. And actually "wrote" them too, in pencil on manuscript (I learned notation in school).
I just seemed a totally natural thing to want to do. This was MY thing, I was making MY sounds.
Of course, I was copying (very crudely) the sounds in the kind of music I liked. But I saw no reason not to try and do it myself. Of course I couldn't write like a pro; but then I couldn't play like a pro, so what's the difference?

What always held me back from performing the songs, or introducing them in my various bands, was (mostly) being unable to sing. I was too precious about retaining artistic control of them to allow anyone else to collaborate, or to sing them their way (because I couldn't properly demonstrate how they should be sung).
There was one exception, where a band I was in encouraged me to actually sing a couple of my own songs. But (and I have the tapes to prove it ) they sounded terrible, because I could barely pitch properly.

I do understand that some guitarists are just interested in guitar. They play guitar because they love guitar so much (this site is called "mylespaul" for instance). These kind of players are usually happy to just play, achieving technical excellence on the instrument, taking compositional skills no further than improvisation. Me, I play guitar because I love music. I want to make music, any way I can. I play other instruments too, and wish I could play more. (I was making music with home made instruments and tape recorders before I owned a guitar.) Whether it's my music or someone else's, I'm far less bothered about instrumental skill on the guitar, more by the quality of the whole piece of music.
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Old 09-20-2012, 05:55 AM   #27
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Re: Simple Song Writing Strategies

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...
Reminds me of a great quote from Paul McCartney talking about how The Beatles got into writting songs: "Every time we learned a new chord, we'd write a song with it."

That's the best advice anyone could get.
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Old 09-20-2012, 06:09 AM   #28
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Re: Simple Song Writing Strategies

I like everything I'm reading here, and I'm reading with great interest. Writing the music side of a song (or at least the framework for it) comes easy to me: I pick up a guitar, find a chord or sound that evokes a certain feeling from within, and it's just there. Lyrics are where I struggle: I know what I want to say, but just can't seem to say it 99% of the time. When I am lucky enough to have the lyrics come to me, I'm usually in a position where I can't get them down in a reasonable amount of time. Gone forever.

I'll get it all worked out some day. Keep up the great thread!
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Old 09-20-2012, 06:41 AM   #29
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Re: Simple Song Writing Strategies

[QUOTE=slapshot;4299991]dunno how many times I've seen this used in a derogatory way but it's ridiculously true.


Yes. It was a 1970s UK punk manifesto, from Sniffin' Glue fanzine. Part of the demystification of rock that was punk's main liberating purpose. The point being, anyone can do it.

[RANT]

Advances in rock in the early-mid 70s had led to a superstar, supergroup phenomenon, an increasing divide between the stars and the audience. Rock'n'roll was never supposed to be like that.
The Ramones' music (eg) wasn't "new" in any sense, but a return to the pre-1967 "Eden", before prog and all that nonsense.
(70s prog rock was counter-revolutionary, with too much respect for classical or jazz criteria. It was part of a very natural drive among rock musicians (since the mid-60s) to have their music taken seriously, to be something other than ephemeral, commercial "pop". But it too often ended up in pompous pretentiousness.)

[/RANT]


BTW, interesting to note that the 3 chords in the manifesto are not the I-IV-V of a key. (I'd fondly remembered them mistakenly as A E and D.) Instead they enshrine the rock convention of the bVII chord (G in key of A) - or is it the bIII chord (G in key of E)? Who cares...
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Old 09-20-2012, 11:10 AM   #30
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Re: Simple Song Writing Strategies

first step is to decide if i'm gonna start this one in A or D then go from there
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