The No.1 Website for Pro Audio
 Search This Thread  Search This Forum  Search Reviews  Search Gear Database  Search Gear for sale  Search Gearslutz Go Advanced
Lyrics - Simple vs Abstract
Old 2 weeks ago
  #91
Gear Guru
 
lucey's Avatar
Simple vs Abstract is a polarity. Not a fan of any polarity for truth telling.


What's more important is that a song is EMOTIONALLY RELATABLE. It CONNECTS A balance of INTIMATE and UNIVERSAL that is authentic for the artist and their lane.

In my opinion music is Intimacy, Connection, Elevation and Community. Any song is a vehicle for those.
Old 1 week ago
  #92
Lives for gear
 
Bob Ross's Avatar
 

Quote:
Originally Posted by quietdrive View Post
I am still under the impression that lyrics should be simple.
I don't necessarily agree that they should be "simple" ...but I think they need to be fertile enough with possibility that it's very easy for the listener to find something engaging, appealing, or relatable about them without having to do too much thinking about them.

And note, that "something" doesn't have to be something very specific. Or even something that the songwriter intended (!) And so I feel that an abstract lyric -- what some might even describe as "vague" -- could have more potential than a very direct lyric, because if the listener can't identify with the simple message of the direct lyric, that's it, you're done, there's nowhere else to go, game over.


Quote:
Originally Posted by quietdrive View Post
If you wouldnt say something in everyday life, why put it in a song?
Because songs aren't conversations.
Old 1 week ago
  #93
Gear doesn't kill people.
 

Quote:
Originally Posted by Bob Ross View Post
I don't necessarily agree that they should be "simple" ...but I think they need to be fertile enough with possibility that it's very easy for the listener to find something engaging, appealing, or relatable about them without having to do too much thinking about them.

And note, that "something" doesn't have to be something very specific. Or even something that the songwriter intended (!) And so I feel that an abstract lyric -- what some might even describe as "vague" -- could have more potential than a very direct lyric, because if the listener can't identify with the simple message of the direct lyric, that's it, you're done, there's nowhere else to go, game over.




Because songs aren't conversations.
I would say songs are not necessarily conversations. But very many lyrics are an implied conversation. Any direct address lyric has at least some implication of being part of a conversation.
Old 1 week ago
  #94
Lives for gear
 
Bob Ross's Avatar
 

Quote:
Originally Posted by creegstor View Post
Any direct address lyric has at least some implication of being part of a conversation.
The moment you sing a lyric, or utter it as part of a musical performance, you've recontextualized the words; they are now no longer a "conversation" they're a "song" ...which has a whole different set of cultural (and syntactical) expectations.

Even if your song lyric was literally two singers going back and forth with something overtly conversational...for example:

"Hey babe"
"Good morning."
"Didja sleep well?"
"Coulda been better. Want some coffee?"
"Nah, I gotta get down to the mill early. Feeder belt on number three was acting up on the overnight."
"Okay. Don't forget to pick up some milk on the way home. Two percent."

...nobody in their right mind would listen to that performance and think "Those two people are having a conversation!" What you hear, when presented that way, is two people singing. They happen to be singing a (possibly fictional) conversation, but because they're performers in the context of a song, what they're really doing is singing about a conversation.

Songs and conversations are two different forms of communication. Why wouldn't they have two different sets of rules, traditions, governing principals, and objectives?
Old 1 week ago
  #95
Gear doesn't kill people.
 

Quote:
Originally Posted by Bob Ross View Post
The moment you sing a lyric, or utter it as part of a musical performance, you've recontextualized the words; they are now no longer a "conversation" they're a "song" ...which has a whole different set of cultural (and syntactical) expectations.
I didn't say it's not a song. What I said is, certain types of song are actually an implied conversation or have elements thereof. Recontextualization doesn't change the fact that the conversational aspect/feel is what makes it work in the first place.
A lot of bad lyrics tend to ignore this. (I'm not saying ALL non-conversational lyrics are bad obviously!)

Quote:
Originally Posted by Bob Ross View Post
Songs and conversations are two different forms of communication.
Yes they are, but many songs (perhaps even most) imply being a part of a conversation. For most purposes, a conversational approach/tone is the most effective one you can take as a songwriter.
Old 1 week ago
  #96
Lives for gear
 
Bob Ross's Avatar
 

Quote:
Originally Posted by creegstor View Post
I didn't say it's not a song. What I said is, certain types of song are actually an implied conversation or have elements thereof.
Okay, but that's a very particular type of song. And in your OP when you wrote "it should almost be as if you're just having a conversation with somebody. If you wouldnt say something in everyday life, why put it in a song?" you didn't specify that you were talking about those "certain types of song [that] are actually an implied conversation". It came across as a generalization about all types of song lyric, which is why it struck me as an odd contention.
Old 1 week ago
  #97
Gear doesn't kill people.
 

Quote:
Originally Posted by Bob Ross View Post
Okay, but that's a very particular type of song. And in your OP when you wrote "it should almost be as if you're just having a conversation with somebody. If you wouldnt say something in everyday life, why put it in a song?" you didn't specify that you were talking about those "certain types of song [that] are actually an implied conversation". It came across as a generalization about all types of song lyric, which is why it struck me as an odd contention.
That's all fine and dandy except I'm not the OP and I never said that!
Old 1 week ago
  #98
Lives for gear
 
Bob Ross's Avatar
 

Quote:
Originally Posted by creegstor View Post
That's all fine and dandy except I'm not the OP and I never said that!
Slow day in the studio?
Old 1 week ago
  #99
Lives for gear
 

Interesting thread. A few thoughts

Quote:
Originally Posted by quietdrive View Post
If you wouldnt say something in everyday life, why put it in a song? It just comes off weird. It makes no sense IMO.
Of course it does. Or it can. In fact often that's what's great about songs; you can sing things you wouldn't say in everyday life.


Quote:
Originally Posted by n8tron View Post
have trouble writing simple straight forward stuff that doesn't sound cheesy.
You and oh 98%ish of all other songwriters.

Writing GOOD simple stuff is IMO the pinnacle of talent. Anyone can throw out obscure references w/this "you don't know wtf I'm talking about, therefore my lyrics sound clever and intelligent" BS. What a joke. For those old enough to remember, The Fixx were infamous for this, for example.

Quote:
I don't think either is wrong, but both could be done well or poor.
True enough.

I always thought if someone asked my advice on songwriting (pretending I'm good enough that someone should, that is), I would say avoid the methaphor/simile stuff as much as reasonably possible. It's an easy amateurish trap to fall into. Cold as ice, cuts like a knife...barf-worthy material.


Quote:
Originally Posted by JP11 View Post
Either one can be great.

Some simple lyrics can be quite clever and meaningful:

There's nothing you can know that isn't known.
Nothing you can see that isn't shown.
Nowhere you can be that isn't where you're meant to be.
It's easy.
All you need is love.
We'll agree on your point but disagree on your example. That's not at all clever and certainly, in fact I think purposely, not at all meaningful. It's gibberish.



Quote:
Originally Posted by redrue View Post
I'll take abstract and cryptic over
hackneyed and trite any day...
Abstract and cryptic can be very hackneyed and trite, in its own way. That's not an either/or choice.
Old 1 week ago
  #100
Lives for gear
 

PS: Just saw how old this is. I'll post to people still around later.
Old 1 week ago
  #101
Gear Maniac
 

I think lyrics should be whatever you want them to be. There's nothing wrong with vague and abstract. Just like there's nothing wrong with conversational and direct. Or even a mix of different approaches. The real question is did you achieve your aim? Sure, if you're trying to get your song recorded by a major artist, or placed in a movie, then of course you have to write within the perimeters of what that market demands. But if you write and perform your own stuff, then it's all about what you want to convey with the song. If people take away from the song what you wanted them to take away from it, then your mission is accomplished. But if they take away something totally different than what you intended, then in that case, it may be an indication that you do need to sharpen your skills.

I'm reminded of the movie, "The Room", which is widely considered to be the worst movie of all time. The writer/director's vision was to make it a dark, heavy drama, but everything about it was so bad that the audience mistook it for a comedy. It did achieve a certain degree of notoriety for that very reason, but from the creator's standpoint it was unsucessful, because it totally missed the mark of what he was trying to achieve.

I don't really pay close attention to the lyrics of songs. For me it's the music I notice first, and if I like the song enough, then maybe I'll bother to learn the lyrics. I don't think I'm unique...I'd say most people listen to songs that way. Which is why people so frequently misquote and misinterpret song lyrics. From my own perspective as a songwriter, I don't like laziness, so it will still bother me if I hear a weak line in a song that I know could have been done better. But the average person won't notice or care.

I think the purpose of lyrics are not neccesarilly to communicate (though they can), but simply to convey a feeling. There are certain words we associate with certain moods: darkness, sunshine, love, good time...etc. If you know how to choose effective words, I think most listeners just fill in the blanks based on their associations with the words. Not to say that's an excuse to be lazy, or ignore craft. But I think that choosing words that will set the right tone for the mood you're going for can go a long way toward writing something that will connect with people, more so than the overall writing style will.
Old 1 week ago
  #102
Lives for gear
 

Quote:
Originally Posted by soupking View Post
The purpose of lyrics are communication and inspiration.
Those are 2 of them...hardly the only ones.

Quote:
Simple is awesome and necessary.
Not necessarily. Simple can suck and is hardly "necessary." Same goes for complex.

Quote:
Poetry is my basis of calling music like that crap. Simply because poetry doesn't come in paragraphs.
I'm sorry but neither of those sentences make sense.


Quote:
Originally Posted by Bob Ross View Post
I actually find "Close To The Edge" to be one of the more comprehendable lyrics in the Yes catalog.
That's not saying much. (PS, Yes fan here)


Quote:
Originally Posted by Extramission View Post
I don't like it when people say that songs should only be performed by the people who wrote them. That belief began in mid 1960s and has plagued us since. There was a time when the belief was the opposite. Songwriters almost never sang their own songs. Who would you rather hear sing, Frank Sinatra or Irving Berlin? Bing Crosby or Cole Porter? Elvis or any of his songwriters? There was once a wonderful market for songwriters and skilled interpreters that has now died because people believe that a performer singing someone else’s song is insincere.
? I have to wonder where you came up w/that idea. I think extremely few people think that. I don't think most people give a flip if someone wrote their own stuff or not. If they hear a song on the radio they like, they aren't about to later go "what? He didn't write it? Oh I hate it now" (etc).

That one or the other thing all changed because people came along who could compose AND perform, not just one or the other, helped by how it lent itself so well to rock n roll, esp early on, as the lyrics were very simple (as well as folk, which was the flip side...more meaningful/in-depth lyrics, but very simplistic music). Then The Beatles and co. came along and turned it all up a (huge) notch, and in the 70s it just exploded in all directions.


Quote:
Originally Posted by dreamsongs View Post
Unfortunately, we're all at the mercy of Viacom and Clear Channel. That's pretty much who control what we hear and what the majority of the kids listen to and buy...
Sad but true. God I hate those 2 soul-sucking companies from hell. I also now listen to the radio just slightly more often than I buy winning lottery tickets.


Quote:
Originally Posted by JP11 View Post
Good one.
Quiet, he's on a roll.


Quote:
Originally Posted by creegstor View Post
Yes they are, but many songs (perhaps even most) imply being a part of a conversation. For most purposes, a conversational approach/tone is the most effective one you can take as a songwriter.
Not really. Listen to some songs. Lots. Pick a genre. I think you'll find almost none are a "conversational approach" - unless you include one person "talking" to another with no response a conversation.
Old 1 week ago
  #103
Gear doesn't kill people.
 

Quote:
Originally Posted by bill5 View Post
Not really. Listen to some songs. Lots. Pick a genre. I think you'll find almost none are a "conversational approach" - unless you include one person "talking" to another with no response a conversation.
I have and many if not the vast majority of songs do have a "conversational approach". The conversation is implied by the tone of language and perspective. Any song that asks a question from an unspecified "you"...

"Did I ask too much, more than a lot? You gave me nothing now it's all I got"

Conversational.

Any song that entreats from an unspecified "you"...

"Oh baby give me one more chance to show you that I love you"

That's a **** ton of songs right there. All conversational.

The simple act of using everyday conversational language is a "conversational approach" and creates the feeling of an interpersonal exchange even where technically there is none.
Old 1 week ago
  #104
Lives for gear
 
Bob Ross's Avatar
 

Quote:
Originally Posted by creegstor View Post
Any song that asks a question from an unspecified "you"...
But unless the unspecified "you" replies, it's not a conversation.

It may be a speech, a diatribe, a paean, a manifesto, a dissertation, a prayer, a proclamation, a screed, a plea, a keening, wailing, primal scream, or a cool, well-reasoned treatise...but if nobody replies to that speech act, it isn't a conversation.

Words have meaning.
Old 1 week ago
  #105
Lives for gear
 
DougS's Avatar
 

Sometimes an example is helpful. Some nice song writing here:
Randy Newman: Tiny Desk Concert : NPR

Just a piano and voice. Sometime stripped down songs like this help me to understand and learn from the song writing. I think these are worth a listen and a little analysis. My thoughts after listening to all of them (13+ minutes)..
  • On the Simple vs Abstract (although not sure I get this dichotomy) I would say these are simple story telling lyrics. Yet deceptively clever in places.
  • Lyrics are a big part of these songs. The music or sound alone will not hold your interest. You need to follow along with the story to stay with the song.
  • However, the mood and emotion of the chords add a lot - they are inline with the lyrics/subject of the song - as is his delivery. All come together to support the lyrics and maximize the emotional impact of these simple songs. The chords tell us when its a happy, funny or sad song before a single lyric is sung.
  • Of course Randy's voice and delivery is unmistakable and instantly familiar.
  • The lyrics are simple, but they paint a picture as well as tell a story.
  • He uses the occasional novel play on words and voice inflections to steak out humorous or emotional benchmarks in the songs that are memorable. Note, the emotion these benchmarks elicit are far more memorable then the actal lyrics themselves.
  • As delivered here, the choruses are not super hooky and don't automatically stick in your head. They simply serve as paragraph markers for the stories which are told in verse. But perhaps a more produced version of these songs (if one were to be created) could/would be designed to push the choruses further to the front.
Old 1 week ago
  #106
Here for the gear
Use words that can be different depending of one's hearing abilities and you'll have best of both worlds. If a singer sings too clear, so the meaning is unambiguous, then slap some autotune on it and derail it with pitch.
Old 1 week ago
  #107
Gear Guru
 
Brent Hahn's Avatar
 

Quote:
Originally Posted by DougS View Post
[Randy Newman's] lyrics are simple, but they paint a picture as well as tell a story.
My brother's a machinist in a textile mill
And he makes more money than you ever will
He just got married to a Polish girl
With a space between her teeth


Establishing wide shot.
Medium shot.
Extreme closeup.
Old 1 week ago
  #108
Gear Guru
 
Brent Hahn's Avatar
 

Quote:
Originally Posted by elcct View Post
Use words that can be different depending of one's hearing abilities and you'll have best of both worlds.
Interesting observation. One huge appeal of this brilliant song is that it's so hard to tell if he's singing "Daybreak" or "Date Rape."

Old 1 week ago
  #109
Gear doesn't kill people.
 

Quote:
Originally Posted by Bob Ross View Post
But unless the unspecified "you" replies, it's not a conversation.

It may be a speech, a diatribe, a paean, a manifesto, a dissertation, a prayer, a proclamation, a screed, a plea, a keening, wailing, primal scream, or a cool, well-reasoned treatise...but if nobody replies to that speech act, it isn't a conversation.

Words have meaning.
It can be some or all of those but it IMPLIES conversation more than any of those, as conversation is our usual form of communication. You are are hearing one side of the conversation. Seriously man, this isn't even Songwriting 101. It's remedial stuff. SMH.
Old 1 week ago
  #110
Gear Guru
 
Brent Hahn's Avatar
 

Quote:
Originally Posted by bill5 View Post
Listen to some songs. Lots. Pick a genre. I think you'll find almost none are a "conversational approach" - unless you include one person "talking" to another with no response a conversation.
Too bad Bob Newhart wasn't a songwriter.
Old 1 week ago
  #111
Lives for gear
 

Quote:
Originally Posted by Bob Ross View Post
But unless the unspecified "you" replies, it's not a conversation.

It may be a speech, a diatribe, a paean, a manifesto, a dissertation, a prayer, a proclamation, a screed, a plea, a keening, wailing, primal scream, or a cool, well-reasoned treatise...but if nobody replies to that speech act, it isn't a conversation.

Words have meaning.
Exactly, ty, someone gets it.


Quote:
Originally Posted by creegstor View Post
Seriously man, this isn't even Songwriting 101. It's remedial stuff. SMH.
On that we agree. But whatever works for ya.
Old 6 days ago
  #112
Gear doesn't kill people.
 

Quote:
Originally Posted by bill5 View Post
Exactly, ty, someone gets it.

On that we agree. But whatever works for ya.
I'm suddenly reminded of that saying about "never play chess with a pigeon".
Old 6 days ago
  #113
Lives for gear
 

Good one. You're full of impressive posts. Or something.
Old 6 days ago
  #114
Gear doesn't kill people.
 

Quote:
Originally Posted by bill5 View Post
Good one. You're full of impressive posts. Or something.
Exactly, ty, someone gets it.
New Reply Submit Thread to Facebook Facebook  Submit Thread to Twitter Twitter  Submit Thread to LinkedIn LinkedIn  Submit Thread to Google+ Google+  Submit Thread to Reddit Reddit 
 
Post Reply

Welcome to the Gearslutz Pro Audio Community!

Registration benefits include:
  • The ability to reply to and create new discussions
  • Access to members-only giveaways & competitions
  • Interact with VIP industry experts in our guest Q&As
  • Access to members-only sub forum discussions
  • Access to members-only Chat Room
  • Get INSTANT ACCESS to the world's best private pro audio Classifieds for only USD $20/year
  • Promote your eBay auctions and Reverb.com listings for free
  • Remove this message!
You need an account to post a reply. Create a username and password below and an account will be created and your post entered.


 
 
Slide to join now Processing…
Thread Tools
Search this Thread
Search this Thread:

Advanced Search
Similar Threads
Thread
Thread Starter / Forum
Replies
max cooper / Gear free zone - shoot the breeze!
51
cloudy house / So much gear, so little time!
3
methodman / Rap + Hip Hop engineering & production
26
lofi / So much gear, so little time!
0
nelsons / Gear free zone - shoot the breeze!
4

Forum Jump