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writer's block Keyboard Synthesizers
Old 30th December 2010
  #61
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Star Ark View Post
I've noticed other songwriters and authors talking about how you don't really write the song/story, you already have it in you waiting to come out.
That's what I believe, maybe your current writers block is meant to be and more songs are brewing inside you wanting to burst when the time is right.

That's a very good point. Learning to recognize and then accept your own "phases" is very important. I think different things work for different people. DrBill outlined the approach of "working through the crap" to get to the good stuff. That's perfectly valid and certainly works for some but I just can't work like that. I have no interest in pursuing anything that isn't great, period. I'd rather be doing something else, absorbing inspiration and just let it brew.

Also as a general point, I think tools can very much get in the way of music conceptualization for a lot of people. Including instruments. So the first thing I'd advise is "down ALL tools". Then go for a walk. Use your mind and your heart.
Old 30th December 2010
  #62
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Heimel View Post
I often find desperation and impending mortality to be a good motivator. And hard work.
Gonna add this to my sig! heh
Old 2nd January 2011
  #63
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uncle duncan's Avatar
 

Still stuck? I've been really impressed with the videos on the www.songwwork.com website I mentioned earlier.

One approach is to look at the structure of your song. If you have a chorus, and the language is internal, as in: "I miss her" or "next time I'll yada yada", then consider setting a scene in the verse that would lead to the chorus. The idea is to show the listener what's making you feel the way you're feeling, rather than just telling the listener how you're feeling.

In the Andrea Stolpe video "toggling" she talks about internal and external language. External language incorporates:
taste
touch
sights
sounds
smells
movement
Internal language talks about how you feel after encountering the scenario painted by the external language. Many times, the verse is external language, the chorus is internal language. In other words the lyric toggles between external and internal language. A not very good example is "Brown Eyed Girl" (Van Morrison) which is mostly external language in the verses. There is no chorus to speak of, no big philosophical statement, (other than "we used to sing, sh la la la la la la la la la la ti da...) but that's usually the task of the chorus - to reflect on what was said in the verse and explain how it relates to the singer.

If you have a verse and a chorus, but you've run out of steam, consider:
What if the verse you have was the second verse? What would precede it? Or, how can you move the action forward? Would your chorus benefit from a storyline, or separate vignettes for each verse? Can you change an aspect of the second verse so the second chorus takes on a deeper meaning? Is the chorus written in such a way that there's a payoff, or do you give away the payoff at the beginning of the chorus, as in telling the punch line to the joke first?

An example: The initial inspiration is "I've been waiting for you." The initial chorus starts with "I've been waiting for you, all night." Now where do you go? You've already spilled the beans. The rewritten chorus could be:
"The phone still isn't ringing
The silence is deafening
I stand at the window, bathed in the moon's silver light
I've been waiting for you all night"
(Yeah, I write stupid lyrics, but at least I'm trying. )

A song doesn't necessarily have to have a payoff, but if it doesn't, what's in it for the listener? It could be the music is the payoff, or it could be the song is an ear worm that relies on a clever phrase. In other words, the phrase is the payoff and the structure is immaterial.

While I don't buy the notion that you can make up songs out of nothing, you can build songs based upon the foundation of an inspired idea. Perhaps brainstorming - writing down everything you can think of that might relate to the initial inspiration - could give you enough material to cobble something together. Even using dummy lyrics can propel the process forward. We've all heard the story of Paul McCartney using "Scrambled eggs, oh my baby how I love your legs" as the dummy lyrics for "Yesterday". What if he had gotten discouraged and given up? I think that's the difference between a songwriter and a person who writes songs. A songwriter accepts the fact that sometimes it takes work to bring a song to fruition. That's what's so inspiring about the material on the Songworks website. It gives you new tools to work with when constructing songs. It's like the difference between trying to build a house with hand tools versus using powertools and a blueprint. (The most important aspect of the "blueprint" is being willing to change it midstream and start over.)

Another tool is Masterwriter, a software suite with a rhyming dictionary, phrase list, and a some midi drum beats and a recorder that utilizes the built in mic of the PC. In other words, it's a scratch pad for getting a song idea off the ground. The great thing about it is the phrase list. Type in "dog" and get three pages of phrases that include "dog". There are also lists. Lists of car names: Camero, Chevelle, etc. Lists of drinks you get in a bar, lists of lakes and rivers. Many pro songwriters use this program. The rhyming dictionary has a function for "near" rhymes, so that if a perfect rhyme doesn't work, you can still find a near rhyme that will.

For me, the most important aspect of a song (beside the emotional impact on the listener) is the concept of contrast. If there's no musical contrast between the verse and chorus, the listener will likely get bored. Just the act of structuring a contrasting chorus could open the door to new ideas. (Contrast meaning changing the syllabic structure, chord structure, or melodic range. A wide open chorus with long notes in the melody contrasts nicely with a busy, wordy verse.)
Old 3rd January 2011
  #64
Quote:
Originally Posted by uncle duncan View Post
... We've all heard the story of Paul McCartney using "Scrambled eggs, oh my baby how I love your legs" as the dummy lyrics for "Yesterday". ...
Paul McCartney needs to confess that he had subconsciously absorbed the Franklin Roosevelt speech that begins, "Yesterday, December 7th..." and set it to music.

I mean come on... they both hit the word "suddenly" at exactly the same moment.

"Scrambled Eggs"? Sure, dude, keep talking...

"Yesterday..." FDR + Paul McCartney.mp3 - 4shared.com - online file sharing and storage - download
Old 3rd January 2011
  #65
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Quote:
Originally Posted by joelpatterson View Post
Paul McCartney needs to confess that he had subconsciously absorbed the Franklin Roosevelt speech that begins, "Yesterday, December 7th..." and set it to music.

I mean come on... they both hit the word "suddenly" at exactly the same moment.

"Scrambled Eggs"? Sure, dude, keep talking...

"Yesterday..." FDR + Paul McCartney.mp3 - 4shared.com - online file sharing and storage - download
Really, Joel.. it's TRUE!

Hulu - Late Night with Jimmy Fallon: Paul McCartney Sings "Scrambled Eggs" (The Original "Yesterday")
Old 3rd January 2011
  #66
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AfterViewer's Avatar
 

Quote:
Originally Posted by Old Goat View Post
Yeah, I write on a yellow legal pad in pencil, then noodle around on the guitar until it's getting close, then I put down a rough track so if I get distracted (oh, look, a butterfly!) I won't forget everything.
Slip, slippin' away, soooootrue!
Old 3rd January 2011
  #67
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uncle duncan's Avatar
 

Joel - I was hoping you could talk briefly about how you draw inspiration (and electricity) from your water wheel.
Old 3rd January 2011
  #68
All a part of the cover up... very clever, I admit.

Quote:
Originally Posted by uncle duncan View Post
Joel - I was hoping you could talk briefly about how you draw inspiration (and electricity) from your water wheel.
The sad fact is I used to do alot of this kind of stuff that would eventually take on the name "mash-up." It all started long ago.... back at the end of the 70's, there was a brief flurry of revived interest in the Kennedy assassination, and on TV you would see all the iconic film reels broadcast in different incarnations. So me and my friends were sitting around... we'd do the thing where you turn off the sound, and put on a record, and damn if it wasn't long before the two began to synchronize... kids still do that?

Anyway... onto the screen burst the final perp walk of our friend Lee Harvey Oswald, s-l-o-w m-o-t-i-o-n, slower than slow motion, sludge motion-- I guess this was meant to demonstrate some aspect of the conspiracy?-- and I set the needle down on James Taylor's mournful/hopeful ballad "Shower The People"-- and the effect, especially in our "enhanced" state, was devastating.

So, this opened up whole new worlds. My parents had an old 78 record that was Edward R. Murrow leading you through a sound montage of World War II, and one sequence was him rattling off all the "new" words that had entered the lexicon, radar, spitfire, bazooka, and the Molotov Cocktail. FDR's exhortation: "The only thing we have to fear is-- fear itself!"-- that segued into Neil Young's "Like A Hurricane" in a thoroughly mystical way, as the tune begins FDR drones on about nameless, unreasoning, unjustified terror...

Each element enriched the other, commented on it and dredged up whole worlds of meaning... so, that's the story, Dunc.
Old 3rd January 2011
  #69
Gear Nut
 

Quote:
Originally Posted by biggator6 View Post
I've been stuck in that rut for a long time - for lots of reasons.

1. I've worked primarily alone for far too long.. works for some people, but apparently I need to bounce ideas off of others
This is very important. Knowing when to pull away from your work, give it a listen from some people who's taste in music you respect, and getting a more objective view. I work primarily alone (writing, recording, mixing) and I love it that way. But it's important to get another view of your work to stay in a zone of confidence and not delusion. Be confident enough in your work to accept failure or that you can do better, instead of trying to convince yourself that things are working. If you feel like you're convincing yourself of something, it probably isn't working as well as it could. Trust your gut, and let go of your ego. And strive to meet and exceed these challenges. Making these a personal challenge rather than trying to meet the expectations set up by other people is the quickest way to stay away from convention, and to finding your own voice, in my opinion. Don't take this as if I'm speaking directly to you, because I'm kind of reminding myself of these important points as I write this, haha.
Old 3rd January 2011
  #70
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lagavulin16's Avatar
 

The best songs (in my opinion) that I've ever come up with weren't when I was sitting down trying to write. They were when I was just sitting down, poking at they keyboard, messing with different plugins and sounds, and then all of a sudden something just hit. Some hook, chord progression, whatever.

Sometimes it doesn't even sound that great, it just sounds OK but then I take some time away from it and listen to it again and am pleasantly surprised. I think that helps you hear the music as a potential fan/listener would as opposed to the way you hear it.
Old 3rd January 2011
  #71
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Ernest Buckley's Avatar
Quote:
Originally Posted by lagavulin16 View Post
The best songs (in my opinion) that I've ever come up with weren't when I was sitting down trying to write. They were when I was just sitting down, poking at they keyboard, messing with different plugins and sounds, and then all of a sudden something just hit. Some hook, chord progression, whatever.

Sometimes it doesn't even sound that great, it just sounds OK but then I take some time away from it and listen to it again and am pleasantly surprised. I think that helps you hear the music as a potential fan/listener would as opposed to the way you hear it.
I`ve approached the last 3-4 songs I`ve written this way. Just sitting there running through a couple of chord progressions with a rough vocal and suddenly an idea... I`ll hit record and just go. Listening back to these songs, what I hear differently compared to previous songs is the freshness. There is a primal energy there that some well thought out tracks lacked. This sort of goes back to what I wrote on my first post in this thread... just write, don`t judge.
Old 3rd January 2011
  #72
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Unclenny's Avatar
Quote:
Originally Posted by Ernest Buckley View Post
There is a primal energy there that some well thought out tracks lacked.
This is a very important part of my writing.

My most recent project came from a brief period of stagnancy that erupted when I just sat down with my favorite guitar and just played what was there.

I tracked it immediately to catch that vibe.
Old 4th January 2011
  #73
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Ernest Buckley's Avatar
Quote:
Originally Posted by Unclenny View Post
This is a very important part of my writing.

My most recent project came from a brief period of stagnancy that erupted when I just sat down with my favorite guitar and just played what was there.

I tracked it immediately to catch that vibe.
Cool track. That definitely has a lot of character and in the moment-ness... not really sure what I mean by that but you can definitely feel the intimacy.
Old 5th January 2011
  #74
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Halloween's Avatar
I skipped everything on here to tell you the truth about writers block.

It does NOT exist. It is only that you are being too critical of yourself.

Continue.
Old 5th January 2011
  #75
Gear Guru
 
henryrobinett's Avatar
I don't believe in writers block.
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