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Song writing tips?
Old 22nd April 2019
  #1
Lightbulb Song writing tips?

Hello there,

would appreciate some of your tips for songwriting, please!

1. what comes first music or words?
2. do you write words already on your language or first at "bird language" like "la-la-la-pi-pi"?
3. is your melody different from chorus to refrain?
4. do you consider writing a song for man or woman, or it is gonna be for both?

Thank you for sharing your experience!
Cheers
J
Old 23rd April 2019
  #2
Quote:
Originally Posted by Sonic_X View Post
Hello there,

would appreciate some of your tips for songwriting, please!

1. what comes first music or words?
2. do you write words already on your language or first at "bird language" like "la-la-la-pi-pi"?
3. is your melody different from chorus to refrain?
4. do you consider writing a song for man or woman, or it is gonna be for both?

Thank you for sharing your experience!
Cheers
J
1 - For me, it's usually a lyric phrase and a vibe or vague idea about what the song's about and maybe the musical vibe it will end up with (but the latter is definitely subject to change, as I often explore several ways of doing any given song -- and often keep experimenting with the music/arrangement as well over time).

2. I usually use words -- but, certainly, if there's a 'missing' phrase I haven't got appropriate words for, I'll la-la to fill the void until something comes.

3. Usually. Usually I write entirely different melodies and chord changes for different structural parts* -- but sometimes I have different (or somewhat different) melodies over more-or-less identical chords for different parts. And, for that matter, sometimes I do the same with 'verses' -- singing a somewhat different melody in verse 3 than I did in verses 1 & 2 (for instance).

* Whatever one calls them; different people can have different terms; to a jazzer, a 'chorus' often refers to each repeat of the song's main parts [verse, refrain, possibly bridge] while to a rock/pop person, a 'chorus' might refer simply to a repeated refrain; music terminology can get pretty squishy.

4. I usually start out from my own point of view or one I can imagine (though perhaps that may revolt me). I can't think of many songs that I, personally, have written in the first person from a woman's point of view -- though many of my songs could be probably be sung gracefully enough by a man or woman, regardless of sexual orientation. Some, on the other hand, are clearly 'from' a heterosexual male.

But one thing I DEFINITELY do is to shift point-of-view in the course of a song, a fairly common tactic in storytelling and pop balladry. For example, I have one song where the first few lines describe how the central male character 'should have seen' the breakup coming, though he never imagined it and the next few lines shift to demonstrate the mixed emotions of the central female character through action (she "laughed all the way to Austin / cried the rest of the way to New Orleans"). (I could have attempted to give inner readings of each character, trying to 'get inside their heads' and describe feelings -- but a LOT of times it seems to be better to SHOW people what's happening than to declare it happened or that a given party feels a certain way. We the listener don't so much want to hear someone say, "She is sad." Instead, we want the songwriter to show us how that sadness manifests in the character's life and actions.




• With regard to rules, guidelines, conventions: We often heard folks say, 'No rules!' But, in actuality, there are hundreds of 'rules,' best practices, conventions, tricks, tropes and cliches.

But maybe it's better to think of them as suggestions that can prove helpful -- but which can be kicked out of the way as needed.

Because there is no ONE way to write a song and, in the course of a songwriting life, it can be helpful -- not to mention intellectually and possibly artistically satisfying -- to explore as many as one desires.
Old 24th April 2019
  #3
Lives for gear
 

1. words and music come separately. i then improvise melodies over the instrumental ideas
2. yes to the first part
3. verse and chorus are different
4. 95% of the time it can be sung by both
Old 30th April 2019
  #4
Lives for gear
 

Quote:
Originally Posted by Sonic_X View Post
Hello there,

would appreciate some of your tips for songwriting, please!

1. what comes first music or words?
2. do you write words already on your language or first at "bird language" like "la-la-la-pi-pi"?
3. is your melody different from chorus to refrain?
4. do you consider writing a song for man or woman, or it is gonna be for both?

Thank you for sharing your experience!
Cheers
J
1. For me, mostly words. But of course it varies for everyone
2. Words.
3. um - what? I assume you mean different from verse to chorus/refrain. For me it's usually and I wish it was always different, as I have never been a fan of an "A-A-A" type of setup where it all sounds the same.
4. Never a consideration.
Old 30th April 2019
  #5
Gear Head
 
CupcakeKitten's Avatar
 

Quote:
Originally Posted by Sonic_X View Post
Hello there,

would appreciate some of your tips for songwriting, please!

1. what comes first music or words?
2. do you write words already on your language or first at "bird language" like "la-la-la-pi-pi"?
3. is your melody different from chorus to refrain?
4. do you consider writing a song for man or woman, or it is gonna be for both?

Thank you for sharing your experience!
Cheers
J
Hi there ^^.

1 - I always write the music and lyrics separately. Often one can inspire the other, but it's in no particular order. I'm aware that I can get easily trapped in thinking "does it fit?" rather than "is it good?", so I personally prefer to work them together and integrate them a bit later down the line, seeing which scratches and skeletons really gel and which don't. It keeps both music and lyrics strong on their own terms without one having to carry the other!

2 - When writing melodies I totally do this ^^. When i've got a good skeleton text in place that I feel really clicks with the music i'll start trying to merge them, but until then melodies consist of a lot of humming (usually translated into some sort of 'keyboard' sound playing the melody along on the skeleton track) and whatever other nonsense I happen to be thinking about at the time .

3 - I don't think it's always necessary to have some super dramatic boyband-key-change, but yes, I like to have a bit of variation in the melodies ^^.

4 - Unless a particular story is calling for a particular perspective, I actually think that it's not super important. I think the thing that binds listeners to songs are rooted in a shared overall human experience. I mentioned this in another thread a while back, but the root themes that have been repeated over and over have been shared by people for thousands of years and in every culture - it's always coming down to something like fear, love, frustration, betrayal, mystery, grief, anger, feeling alienated, euphoria, loneliness, success, struggles etc - the list goes on, and all the nuances that come with those experiences. Say for example, someone could write a fierce feminist song, where gender and perspective plays a major role in the writing, it's (for example) the anger or euphoria that drives the song. Nearly everyone can relate to being angry or euphoric, even if they don't relate to the story itself. Even really specific stories will tap into one of these feelings (even in a really dark song, or if the story is being told through an abstract or warped perspective), and being male or female isn't necessarily what i'm thinking about when writing, and not necessarily where my priorities are!

Just my thoughts anyhow, best of luck with all the songwriting ^^
Old 1st May 2019
  #6
Gear Maniac
 

1. what comes first music or words? instrumental musical phrase
2. do you write words already on your language or first at "bird language" like "la-la-la-pi-pi"? both, usually unconscious drivel springs forth combined with 'Sussudio' gibberish...
3. is your melody different from chorus to refrain? usually yes, occasionally the chorus will be a different melody sung over the same chords
4. do you consider writing a song for man or woman, or it is gonna be for both? almost always for a man from a man's point of view, but I have had female singers record songs, lyrics adjusted if needed.
Old 2nd May 2019
  #7
yep
Gear Nut
 

1. Can be either, but at some point there has to be something *good*, either musical or lyrical. It doesn’t really matter which comes first.

2. Singing nonsense lyrics is a tried and true method for everyone from Mike Jackson to Sting. It helps to have a great instrumental bed to start with.

3. OTOH, a “lyric first” approach has worked out okay for sir Elton and a ton of rappers and R&B vocalists going back to Motown.

Most of the best music ever made comes from a mix of raw talent/imagination, plus an experienced musical technician.
Old 18th June 2019
  #8
Here for the gear
 

1 > Music and words come at once, but words are always a tiny bit prior to music, in my opinion.
2 > I write words in my language, bird singing is hard to tranform into normal speech. I mean, you could do that but why create more obstacles for yourself?
3 > I feel like it should be different otherwise what's the point in chorus/refrain?
4 > I don't divide songs into "man-oriented" and "woman-oriented". It should be suitable for both genders
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Old 18th June 2019
  #9
Gear Addict
There is no absolute answer to this, but. Some composers work holistically with the words music and everything coming at the same time. I kind of work like this. And then spend the effort trying to get it recorded the way I imagine it in my head.

What i don't do is
make a nice beat, then make up a bass line for it then see if some chords fit then write some melody and then write some words then try and bolt them all together.
Personally I don't think that this works too well, or not as well as a holistic approach


For me its the words that really inform the melody first. Try writing the lead vocal lines first with NO other instrumentation. As soon as you know what words you want to sing try singing them immediately, get the idea down there and then with just your voice. This way you will get the most emotional impact and naturalness to the writing. This method is almost cheating.

OK bear with me on this next one. ah hem,
Another technique I use is to try as hard as I can to come up with the most dumb nonsense possible in a kind of nursery rhyme demented simpleton way as though I had the brain of a earth worm on crystal meth. In a dark room I drive myself into a schizophrenic trance like state and freeform nonsense with the intention of making something really stupid. What invariably happens is the exact opposite. My best stuff comes to me like this!
Old 22nd June 2019
  #10
Lives for gear
For me, the most important step forward I made was having no method.

I have taught myself to free up my mind, a song can come from anywhere, a riff, a lyric, a melody, a chord profession, a sound, a rhythm .... anything can be the catalyst.

Also don't be precious about your idea.

Sometimes an idea may only be a container for another idea to develop in.

I always keep my rough, its so much fun to finish a great song, perfectly arranged and recorded and then listen back the very first kernel for the idea.

The finished song often sounds absolutely nothing like the original idea .... it's feels like a magical process to me.
Old 26th June 2019
  #11
Gear Nut
 
Garage Rodeo's Avatar
 

Answer to all the questions: sometimes.

Write a page of notes on the subject, different lines, sayings, choose your favorites and make em rhyme and or fit. Set a timer for 5 mins, write constantly on that song's subject

If music is first record it, listen to it while driving around. If anything sing melodies, write words to match melody.

Or... write lyrics with a cadence in mind. Write music to match.

Or come up with a crazy subject, challenge yourself to write song on said subject.

...and keep doing it
Old 27th June 2019
  #12
Deleted df98c51
Guest
The vocoder is great tool for making melodies.

It is effortless. Beautiful when analog and subtle.
Old 28th June 2019
  #13
Lives for gear
 

Just to add..I never write a song from
a man or woman’s point of view unless it’s
a “story” about a man or woman.

If you write personal songs about yourself,
then chances are 50% of your audience
(those that are not the same gender as you)
can’t relate to them.

Sheryl Crow is one of my favorite songwriters
for this reason. She almost never writes
gender-specific lyrics. So you can relate to
her songs whether you are a man or a
woman.
Old 28th June 2019
  #14
Deleted df98c51
Guest
Quote:
Originally Posted by Dave Polich View Post
n.

If you write personal songs about yourself,
then chances are 50% of your audience
(those that are not the same gender as you)
can’t relate to them.

.
What? Thats not true.
Old 28th June 2019
  #15
1. what comes first music or words?
We've done it both ways. We've written songs where the lyrics came first and I put a melody to them. We've also written songs where my lyricist (Mrs. Deep Water) put lyrics to a melody I had previously written.

2. do you write words already on your language or first at "bird language" like "la-la-la-pi-pi"?
It is often a little of both. We'll have a hook or main concept with true words, but some spots that we don't have a lyric for, and then we'll add the la-la-la's to fill in the blanks until we can polish the lyrics.

3. is your melody different from chorus to refrain?
Always different. I like a song to be a journey. You don't have a feeling of "going somewhere" in the song if the melody is the same for every part of the song.

4. do you consider writing a song for man or woman, or it is gonna be for both?
We specifically write worship songs for church, so the lyrics are always universal so the whole congregation can join in.

Thanks,

Scott
Old 4th July 2019
  #16
Lives for gear
 

Quote:
Originally Posted by Deleted df98c51 View Post
What? Thats not true.
Suppose you write a song about being
pregnant. How can male listeners relate
to that? Suppose you write a song about
growing a beard? I dont know too many
women who will vibe with that.
Old 4th July 2019
  #17
Lives for gear
Great comments. Knowing if what you have is good can be difficult. Here is my check list for that.

Does it make you move?
Is it interesting? Is the listener wonering what the next line, or can they predict the next line with exceitement?
Is it catchy. Like if a person hears it for the first time. They are humming it or singing it an hour later.
Does it work with any set of sounds? Will a muzac/elevator version work as well as the Metailica version?

These are details about the song. Nothing to do with the recording or musicianship.
Old 4th July 2019
  #18
Gear Maniac
 

Songwriting old skool style means you want something to say about yourself, your perspective or some other personal thing.
Some will say something with words and if that's the case just sing what you want to say and find some chords with it.
Some will talk with their instrument; instrumentalists and soloists.
They translate their feelings into chords and notes.

For myself it can be about a subject, a situation or a person but I always start with some words or some sentences.

is your melody different from chorus to refrain? It all depends about the song.
do you consider writing a song for man or woman, or it is gonna be for both?
A song can be about anything; a man, woman or some subject or situation.
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