Originally Posted by smili
Hey all, was curious if anybody here wrote the music after the lyrics were done and how that works? I've heard some people do it but I can't imagine how that would work.
This would be appealing to me as I'd love to be able to work with some tight lyrics that are already good (Lyrics after the fact often force you to fit one more line into the song even to make it fit - even if you don't like it alot). But that said - I have terrible time making music match lyrics so generally get the riff and melody down first. I might have a little phrase or something in my head, but it's more of a placeholder than anything.
So question is: Can you take a poem or piece of pre-written lyrics and craft a song around them? If so - How do you make it work? This is kindof a process question as much as anything. Appreciate responses.
It's typically very easy (for me, anyhow) to come up with something as long as the lyrics are already in a regular form and have good meter. (By regular form
, I mean that there's a consistent and coherent organization and meter to the structure of the verses, choruses, and any other bits.)
What is tricky, of course, is to set free verse to music.
That was the challenge I briefly faced when I started playing. I was already a 'modern' poet and, of course, in the middle of the 20th century, that generally meant blank or more likely free verse, no fixed rhyme scheme, irregular meter, and so on.
The notion that I should have to write 'childish doggerel' (which is how such poets tend to think of most metered, rhyming poetry because... well, that's what most of it has been in the modern era) in order to have lyrical fodder for my songs was vexing, to say the least.
But, you know, I explored those avenues and ultimately decided that I was writing songs, not academic poetry, and that stuff that sounded corny to my ear read aloud could actually be quite effective in the context of song.
Sadly, my training had ill-prepared me. I checked a rhyming dictionary out of the library (and renewed it -- at the end of that six week period I taught myself to 'run the alphabet' looking for rhymes and that's pretty much what I did until looking for rhyme words became a semi-unconscious part of the process). The first things I wrote were, indeed, doggerel of the worst, most childish and bone-headed sort. But it was a start. I figured I'd have to burn through it. And I did.
Anyhow, back on point, once the lyrical meter and structure are in a regular form that can be fitted with music, for me, the music seems to flow fairly easily. In fact, I frequently 'practice' by coming up with entirely different chordal and melodic arrangements for existing songs. (I have one song that I've done so many different ways that it's become sort of my general warm up song... except I tend to do it a different way, including different melodies and chords each time. I almost have to stop and think about how the 'right' way is.)
That said, no one will ever confuse me, melodically, with a McCartney or Bacharach.