Login / Register
 
Song Writing Tips
New Reply
Subscribe
Danny Zuko
Thread Starter
#1
4th January 2012
Old 4th January 2012
  #1
Gear nut
 
Joined: Sep 2011
Posts: 142

Thread Starter
Danny Zuko is offline
Song Writing Tips

Authors and Musicians...

I have had some people tell me that composing music is easy, and that anyone can do it. Yes, anyone can do it, but few can really do it. Writing a song is much like being an author. Yes, we all have tools to write (everyone has a brain I hope!), but that doesn’t all of a sudden make us best selling authors. Authors work at their abilities, often every day. The prime goal of an author is the same as a musician, which is to emotionally connect with the reader in some way or another. Writers do this by using motivation, chararacterization, and powerful word combinations among other things. Composers, like authors, have a lot in common. Our main goal is to connect with the listener emotionally.

This is where our first tip comes into play: Never stop working at your abilities. If our main goal is to connect emotionally, we should want to have as many tools as we possibly can to achieve that goal. The more abilities that we have, the more choices we can make musically. It’s important to have a wide arsenal of choices at your disposal, because if we keep doing the same ‘tried and true’ methods, their emotional effects will wear off as the songwriting becomes caged into a predictable movement.

Who are you writing your music for? Know your goal.

The reason why you need to know this is because when you make music for yourself, there is no limit to what you can do to be ‘expressive’. If you are making music for other people, you will have to be aware of how people relate to it. It is like this: when you are a computer genius and you want to tell someone how to fix their computer, you have to speak in their terms so they can understand what the heck you are saying. If you speak in your lingo, you will most likely lose them in techno-talk. Another example is the author. He can write a story with the largest, most sweeping words he knows- but if the reader does not know what those words mean, the entire meaning gets lost.

We, as musicians, face the same predicament. Overcomplicated songs will lose the average listener. Now, other hardcore musicians will greatly appreciate your abilities and probably get more feeling from it- but the common person will most likely not be able to follow. Once again you should ask yourself when you write a song: Who am I making this music for and will they be able to relate?

Building a hook.

Some of the most powerful hooks are derived from taking a simple melody and modifying it ever so slightly. Why does that make it powerful? Hooks need to be predictable and not predictable at the same time. If there is a degree of predictability then the listener will be able to relate to the song more quickly. For instance, how many of you have said in your mind, “that would be so cool if this song did this...” and then the song took the same direction you wanted it to go. Immediate satisfaction.

If you twist it a little bit, then the song will have its unique identity that separates it from the traditional cliché of many hooks. People have heard different artists use the exact same musical hooks and patterns, and if there is no unique twist then you will hear something like, “they copied (fill in the blank)’s song. Sounds just like it but with different words.” You will most likely want your song to have its own identity.
#2
4th January 2012
Old 4th January 2012
  #2
Lives for gear
 
cowboycoalminer's Avatar
 
Joined: Sep 2010
Location: I was country, when country wasn't cool
Posts: 3,001

cowboycoalminer is offline
Quote:
Originally Posted by Danny Zuko View Post
Authors and Musicians...

I have had some people tell me that composing music is easy, and that anyone can do it. Yes, anyone can do it, but few can really do it. Writing a song is much like being an author. Yes, we all have tools to write (everyone has a brain I hope!), but that doesn’t all of a sudden make us best selling authors. Authors work at their abilities, often every day. The prime goal of an author is the same as a musician, which is to emotionally connect with the reader in some way or another. Writers do this by using motivation, chararacterization, and powerful word combinations among other things. Composers, like authors, have a lot in common. Our main goal is to connect with the listener emotionally.

This is where our first tip comes into play: Never stop working at your abilities. If our main goal is to connect emotionally, we should want to have as many tools as we possibly can to achieve that goal. The more abilities that we have, the more choices we can make musically. It’s important to have a wide arsenal of choices at your disposal, because if we keep doing the same ‘tried and true’ methods, their emotional effects will wear off as the songwriting becomes caged into a predictable movement.

Who are you writing your music for? Know your goal.

The reason why you need to know this is because when you make music for yourself, there is no limit to what you can do to be ‘expressive’. If you are making music for other people, you will have to be aware of how people relate to it. It is like this: when you are a computer genius and you want to tell someone how to fix their computer, you have to speak in their terms so they can understand what the heck you are saying. If you speak in your lingo, you will most likely lose them in techno-talk. Another example is the author. He can write a story with the largest, most sweeping words he knows- but if the reader does not know what those words mean, the entire meaning gets lost.

We, as musicians, face the same predicament. Overcomplicated songs will lose the average listener. Now, other hardcore musicians will greatly appreciate your abilities and probably get more feeling from it- but the common person will most likely not be able to follow. Once again you should ask yourself when you write a song: Who am I making this music for and will they be able to relate?

Building a hook.

Some of the most powerful hooks are derived from taking a simple melody and modifying it ever so slightly. Why does that make it powerful? Hooks need to be predictable and not predictable at the same time. If there is a degree of predictability then the listener will be able to relate to the song more quickly. For instance, how many of you have said in your mind, “that would be so cool if this song did this...” and then the song took the same direction you wanted it to go. Immediate satisfaction.

If you twist it a little bit, then the song will have its unique identity that separates it from the traditional cliché of many hooks. People have heard different artists use the exact same musical hooks and patterns, and if there is no unique twist then you will hear something like, “they copied (fill in the blank)’s song. Sounds just like it but with different words.” You will most likely want your song to have its own identity.
I'm a writer. I find my method is to write backwards. Every line in every part of a song. Find your hook first and go backward from there. If we try to write to a hook, we find ourselves wandering aimlessly. Works for me.

Sent from my ADR6300 using Gearslutz.com App
__________________
Online high end vocal and instrument tracking for songwriters.
cowboycoalminer@gmail.com

https://soundcloud.com/herb-music/i-still-believe-in-that
https://soundcloud.com/herb-music/in-color
#3
6th January 2012
Old 6th January 2012
  #3
Lives for gear
 
Swurveman's Avatar
 
Joined: Apr 2009
Location: USA
Posts: 951

Swurveman is offline
Sometimes I write vocal melodies without any instrument. I sing it to a beat and a tempo. Other times I write it on guitar. Sometimes on piano. Sometimes with a beat, sometimes without. Sometimes I write riffs and chord progressions and then tie them together, then add a vocal melody. Sometimes I write the lyric first. Sometimes I write the melody first. Sometimes I write a song title and then write the song based on the song title. Sometimes I write a first line and hold onto that line, with each line cascading from there. Sometime I write the chorus first, and then build the verses off that.

In other words, my advice is to write many different ways.

My other advice is to write songs that you'd like to hear. This comes from Ray Bradbury's advice for writers to write books they'd like to read.
__________________

#4
7th January 2012
Old 7th January 2012
  #4
Lives for gear
 
uncle duncan's Avatar
 
Joined: Oct 2005
Posts: 3,996

uncle duncan is offline
Contrast: Contrast is what makes a song memorable. For example, look at Adele's "Rolling in the Deep". The syllabic structure in the verse is rapid-fire. In the pre-chorus, the lyrical pattern opens up a bit. In other words, it's not the same as the verse, but it maintains a similar flavor. In the chorus, she sings "we could have had it aaaaaaaaal." Theres the contrast - the long note (some might call it the money note) that sticks in your head long after you've heard the song. Without this contrast, there's nothing in the song for the listener to remember. There's no tension and release, nothing to anticipate. Songs with no contrast can be boring and forgettable, just like driving through Texas can be boring and forgettable. Give me a tree, a mountain, anything to break the monotony of the same boring landscape.

It's easy to understand how this happens. We get an idea - lyrics, music, both - and we go with it. We're in the groove, tapped into the muse. It's magic time! We come up with a verse structure, and we follow it with a chorus structure that's just an extension of the verse structure - same syllabic structure, some chord change pattern (changing every measure or every two measures.) We're so in love with our groove, we don't notice that the verse and chorus are basically the same. Then we play if for the GF and get a bored "meh" response. (This would be after your GF has been hearing your songs for years on end. During the first few months, your GF will fawn over everything you do, no matter how utterly boring and predictable it is.) So don't disappoint your GF, or your A&R rep. Step it up a notch and give them something memorable.

We can create contrast a number of ways:

Syllabic structure, as mentioned above.

Musical structure - if the chords in the verse change with every measure, try holding the first chord in the chorus for a few measures - or hold the chord but move the bass line. Anything to create contrast. Or do the verse with only one or two chords. Then hit them with a rapid fire chord pattern in the chorus. You can also trying changing keys. Going from the relative minor to the tonic is pretty common. (Verse in Am, chorus in C.)

Melodic structure - move the melody up in the chorus - or down. Anywhere but where the verse was. Try not to telegraph the chorus melody by having the same melody note at the end of the verse. It might help to stop your backing track when the chorus hits and find an interesting melody first, then figure out what the chords would be. See if your song will support a "money note." If you're pitching your song to other singers, they need a money note to show off their vocal prowess. If you're writing for yourself, you'll be limited by your singing abilities, but don't be afraid to stretch a little. (One of my favorite pop songs, "Lady in Red" has a really raggedy vocal, but it's endearing because it sounds sincere, and it has a money note of sorts in the chorus - "lady in re - e - e - d" - that creates contrast.)

Contrast isn't a make or break element in a song. There are plenty of successful songs out there that suffer from a lack of contrast. Perhaps they're more lyric-driven, or there's a musical element that adds interest, or the groove is so freakin' deep and juicy, it doesn't need contrast. In other words, writing songs isn't an exact science, it's a crap shoot. You might create a song with excellent elements of contrast that sucks. The point is, the more tools you have to work with, the easier it will be for you to construct something cool and memorable.

(Contrast is one of the elements Steve Seskin talks about in his seminars.)
__________________
"You're either with a native DAW, or you're with the terrorists." G.W. Busch Lite
#5
7th January 2012
Old 7th January 2012
  #5
Lives for gear
 
pinkheadedbug's Avatar
 
Joined: Nov 2011
Posts: 1,538

pinkheadedbug is offline
One really simple thing that people often forget or don't pay attention to: the high notes generally (not always) indicate the strongest emotions in a song. So your chorus melody will often be higher than your verse, with your pre-chorus getting you ready for the switch. And you're probably going to hit the highest note in the chorus.

So. Many. Songs. have meandering melodies that just drone around two or three notes and never really go anywhere.

A good melody is like good sex. A striptease, some foreplay, a couple of variations, a climax, and a cigarette afterwards.
#6
8th January 2012
Old 8th January 2012
  #6
Lives for gear
 
cowboycoalminer's Avatar
 
Joined: Sep 2010
Location: I was country, when country wasn't cool
Posts: 3,001

cowboycoalminer is offline
Quote:
Originally Posted by pinkheadedbug View Post
One really simple thing that people often forget or don't pay attention to: the high notes generally (not always) indicate the strongest emotions in a song. So your chorus melody will often be higher than your verse, with your pre-chorus getting you ready for the switch. And you're probably going to hit the highest note in the chorus.

So. Many. Songs. have meandering melodies that just drone around two or three notes and never really go anywhere.

A good melody is like good sex. A striptease, some foreplay, a couple of variations, a climax, and a cigarette afterwards.
I was digging you but you lost me there at the end . . . I don't smoke
#7
16th January 2012
Old 16th January 2012
  #7
Gear nut
 
Joined: Feb 2010
Posts: 92

JamzProd is offline
Using the triad harmony from a melody into another section of the song
#8
17th January 2012
Old 17th January 2012
  #8
Gear Head
 
Joined: Dec 2011
Posts: 37

SayItInAWhisper is offline
Quote:
Originally Posted by cowboycoalminer View Post
I'm a writer. I find my method is to write backwards. Every line in every part of a song. Find your hook first and go backward from there. If we try to write to a hook, we find ourselves wandering aimlessly. Works for me.

Sent from my ADR6300 using Gearslutz.com App
+1 . I agree with this as I do this as well !! Great method to get started on a sing !
#9
21st January 2012
Old 21st January 2012
  #9
Gear maniac
 
Benprogfuse's Avatar
 
Joined: Jun 2010
Location: Jacksonville, Fl
Posts: 283

Benprogfuse is offline
I create entire songs in my head where I can make out every single part, usually without lyrics, but I can hear the vocal melody. It normally happens while I am at work or driving my car.

I keep a Tascam hand held recorder in my center console. Whenever a song strikes me, I immediately stop whatever I am doing and go to my car, grab the recorder then I hum and beatbox what I am hearing in my head into it (I record Rock music).

Anywhere from a day to months later, I will listen through all of my recordings on the Tascam and each song literally recreates itself in my head, exactly the way it originally was.

I then open a new session in Pro Tools, find the tempo, then I hum and beatbox the entire song from start to finish with my dynamic mic creating the structure.Then I will usually hum or beatbox each part; guitar, bass, drums, vocal melody individually on separate tracks. After that, I will recreate everything with real instruments and everything pretty much comes out the way that it originally was in my head.

That is the only way that I can do it. I am a guitarist and I cannot for the life of me make up a song with an instrument in my hand.. If I try to with a guitar, I will just want to start playing notes really fast..
New Reply Submit Thread to Facebook Facebook  Submit Thread to Twitter Twitter  Submit Thread to LinkedIn LinkedIn  Submit Thread to Google+ Google+ 
 
Thread Tools
Search this Thread
Search this Thread:

Advanced Search
Similar Threads
Thread
Thread Starter / Forum
Replies
Peacock / So much gear, so little time!
10
Quantumphysics / So much gear, so little time!
1
the1Hub / Work In Progress / Advice Requested / Show & Tell / Artist Showcase / Mix-Offs
7
juicylime / So much gear, so little time!
6

Forum Jump

SEO by vBSEO ©2011, Crawlability, Inc.