PDA

View Full Version : How do you usually write your songs?



ModoReese
01-08-2007, 04:23 AM
Since it's kind of quiet in here I thought I'd throw this out. I'm always fascinated by how everyone writes their songs - it's so personal for each of us.

I used to write simply by pen and paper and writing what was in my mind at the time. Sometimes it worked and sometimes it didn't. There usually had to be a rhythm to the words, and a tone. I didn't always have a melody, but the rhythm meant I wasn't just writing aimlessly. Since I'm not an advanced musician and have a lousy ear for notes, getting my work onto paper was usually painful.

I switched to writing the music first after I had about 80 songs that were good, but generally abandoned. I simply strummed my guitar, came up with a chord progression I liked and started singing what ever came out. Some of my best songs have been written in that way.

I also use my bass to come up with chord progressions I might miss on the guitar. It's tough to explain, but I hear it differently on the bass - and something that might limit me on the guitar, I can work around on the bass.

As I learn and actually absorb music theory, I find my melodies are working better and are driving the words better. Please don't ask me to explain what that means. All I know is that it takes me a lot longer to write my songs now, but the end result is more complete and usually a better song.

It still doesn't stop me from jotting down a stanza on my napkin during my lunch break though..... ;)

How about everyone else? How do you find your words? Or your music? Do you have one way of working, or do you generally go with whatever strikes you at the time?

Michelle

ajrocks
01-08-2007, 10:11 AM
Bon jovi uses cliche's and a bunch of others do to.
Living on a prayer
She's a little runaway
don't go away mad - Motley Crue
With or without you -
U2

I've tried a few.


I usually use emotions or things going on.
"Cant Remember" - About being with someone so long don't remember being without them then it's over.

"Ball and Chain" a friend of mine's relationship -the rut and the hatered that grows in a lot of marraiges

"Single white female" - as the song says.
Lots of the lyrics come from building a story around a situation.
Think of all the songs you know, they all have a basic story in there.

Hope these help.
I also use to write a lot and I 'll go through them and use parts of different poems/lyrics that I had written.

Alan

moblues
01-08-2007, 10:52 AM
Hi, Michelle.

As I learn and actually absorb music theory, I find my melodies are working better and are driving the words better. Please don't ask me to explain what that means.

No explanation is necessary here. This is where meter comes into play.

I sometimes write the lyrics first with a melody in mind. Other times I come up with a decent riff that demands that I write lyrics worthy of its birthing. There is no set way for doing this. At least for me.





Mike

ModoReese
01-08-2007, 11:36 AM
Thanks for the responses so far. I wasn't necessarily looking for help with writing, just insight into what others do. I've tried collaborative writing three different times - all were not very good experiences (Yes, I do sense the common thread is me), so I don't get to see how others write.

Sometimes it seems like dumb luck when a song is completed at all - like the song is completed in spite of what I'm doing, not because of it. Others, everything magically falls into place.

Michelle

rhymegirl
01-08-2007, 03:50 PM
I think the lyrics and the music come at the same time for me. I usually get one line in my head and I build everything around that. I think good songs need a strong hook.

For an example, about 25 years ago I was engaged to someone who decided to break it off. In sitting down and reflecting on how I felt about the whole thing I wrote down "Isn't it just like me to fall in love." So I started with that line and build the rest of the song around it. I had a tune in my head, too. Since I can't read music and can't do the notations I asked a friend to help me. We sat down at the piano, I sang it to him and he figured it out on paper. Then later we got together again and he played it for me. He wrote additional music that is just instrumental for the middle of the song. It was beautiful.

Dixie
01-09-2007, 01:32 AM
When I find myself reflecting on a certain event in my life - then a single line will come to mind then I go from there. Sometimes I start from that line, sometimes I put the line in the chorus, sometimes it all falls apart in the middle and I scrap the whole thing and forget about it until the next time. I cant play guitar for crap so I just more or less make up the music in my head as if "OK this is how the song is supposed to sound."

Odd I know but Ive never let anyone read what I wrote, everyone thinks Im enough pf a crazy person as it is.

pink lily
01-14-2007, 11:03 AM
I don't write music. I don't know how to. That doesn't stop songs from popping into my head, and spilling out of my pen. I always write them on lined paper, with a blue pen. Even though I can't sing or write music, the lyrics come to me.

I'm older now, and on meds that help me cope with my issues. I no longer feel compelled to write songs. I no longer associate with musicians, and I'm more realistic now, knowing that no one will sing what I wrote.

But I have a vast collection of lyrics. They have music, in my mind. I can hear them, as clearly as if I heard them on the radio. I'll never realize my dream, and I'll never hear these songs sung. My only hope is to edit the lyrics into a poetic form that I might be able to publish one day. But I gave up on my dream of writing songs for famous voices, long ago.

I have more lyrics than I have poems, so I intend to share some of them here on AW. I only wish I could match the music to the lyrics. Ah well.

moblues
01-14-2007, 09:00 PM
Partner with a musician. Someone who understands your vision. There have been many lyricists who have been successful who have never learned to play a musical instrument. Peter Sinfield of King Crimson was credited on their early albums for: Words and Illumination.

You may be able to find someone to work with here on the boards, Janice. Writing lyrics, much like poetry, is a very personal endeavor. Don't turn your back on your dream.




Mike

P.H.Delarran
01-14-2007, 09:32 PM
I occasionally 'hear' a new melody and can write words that fit. However, I soon lose the tune, because I cannot get it written. I know how to write music, somewhat, but I do not have a working grasp of theory and fail to capture the melody before I forget it.

moblues
01-14-2007, 11:07 PM
I occasionally 'hear' a new melody and can write words that fit. However, I soon lose the tune, because I cannot get it written. I know how to write music, somewhat, but I do not have a working grasp of theory and fail to capture the melody before I forget it.

At first use the CAGED method. It's a simple concept. Everyone has music in their hearts and souls.




Mike

pink lily
01-14-2007, 11:26 PM
Partner with a musician. Someone who understands your vision. There have been many lyricists who have been successful who have never learned to play a musical instrument. Peter Sinfield of King Crimson was credited on their early albums for: Words and Illumination.

You may be able to find someone to work with here on the boards, Janice. Writing lyrics, much like poetry, is a very personal endeavor. Don't turn your back on your dream.
Aw, Mike, thanks for the advice. Trust me, I tried, back when I was younger and had the time to devote to the endeavor. But now I'm too old and too busy. Besides, there's already a musician in the family (http://nikrael.com/), and no one supports my songwriting. I gave it up long ago, and without support from my family, I can't pursue it. I'm also far too involved in other projects (many of which include writing), and I just can't commit to trying a new thing.

But thank you! :)

benbradley
01-15-2007, 01:10 AM
I've been a "play by ear" musician since about age 12 when I would play my guitar along with the radio or record player, trying to learn every song I liked. I just barely learned enough music theory to make sense of everything.

If you can figure out what key a song is in and can play the major and minor scales in that key (start with C, the scale is all white keys), you're most of the way to being able to play the melody of the song. Then there's chords: The two most common three-note chords are major and minor, then with a fourth note are 6th, 7th, major 7th, in combination with the basic three-note chords.

Play the notes C, E and G on a piano or electronic keyboard. That's a C major chord, or just a "C chord." Move all the notes up one step and you get C#, F and G# and that's a C# chord, the major chord one step up. Go up one step at a time ten more times, and you've played all the major chords.

C minor is C, Eb (E flat) or D# (for my purposes here it doesn't matter what you call it), and G. Likewise, move them all up one step at a time for a total of 11 times and you've played all the minor chords.

Most songs use the same three chords (and often one or two others) traditionally numbered in Roman Numerals as: I, IV, V, or the first, fourth and fifth chords. In the key of C this would be the major chords starting on the notes, C, F, and G. Now we're ready to play Louie, Louie, which goes like this:

C C C F F G G G F F (repeat over and over).

The G chord in this song is actually a G minor, but that's a "minor" detail you'll figure out as your ear and hands get better at hearing these things and matching them together.

That's about how I learned to play keyboard and guitar.


As for how I write music, often a melody line and a phrase come to mind together, and that usually ends up being a line in the chorus. From there I figure out a melody for the whole chorus that fits, usually populating it with words, then a verse melody shows up. From there I barely squeeze out the words for two verses, at which point I usually declare it done. So I've ended up writing short songs.

I've written one song to someone else's lyrics. This was one of several "song challenges" on Usenet where several of us decide on one title, then each person writes a song with that title. There had already been several songs with "Bacon Tree" as title, but someone put up a lyrics-only post that no one else bothered with, so I picked it up and wrote the music to it. It's on my IUMA page.;)

mooncars
01-15-2007, 03:58 AM
Peter Sinfield of King Crimson was credited on their early albums for: Words and Illumination.

Mike

He also collab'd with Greg Lake on some ELP stuff.

startwearingpurple
02-09-2007, 03:34 AM
I dont write songs I tried once or twice in the past just like ive tried poetry, but i could never get across what i wanted. I just dont really have a way with words. I still try every now and then but ... to no avail... and so beacuse writing is something i have tried and failed at i appreciate other peoples witting all the more im in awe that people can have this flash of inspiration and just write these amazing lyrics and tunes.

moblues
02-09-2007, 04:16 AM
This is just an aside for those interested in constructing the framework of a song:

The so called Major and Minor scales are the same. The root note changes. That's it. I never understood why guitarists of my generation got so caught up in modes. They don't matter if you're playing diatonic notes. You only have to know the root.

The Berkley guitar method is different. This method was used by Joe Pass, Pat Martino, and Emily Remler. These are just a few luminaries that took this concept to levels that most technicians only wish they could go to.

If you don't have aspirations to play jazz--study basic theory. Thinking in terms of scales limits you. It's the same scale. Instructors complicate this for a reason: to have a job.

Now for lyrics and poems ... ;)




Mike

Martin Hall-Kenny
02-09-2007, 05:56 PM
Mike is quite right as far as he goes. The major scale and ITS RELATIVE MINOR scale are the same. For example 'C' is CDEFGABC. Its relative minor is Am whose scale is, ABCDEFGA. Same notes, different starting point.
A knowledge of music (whilst useful) is by no means essential when writing music. The need for notational skills quickly began to fade with the ability to do live recordings 'on the fly'. You get an idea, you record it. The ability to play a musical instrument is also not essential. Step sequencing on any reasonable computer music program means you can put the melody in, note by note. Or you can record direct to your pc and the program will convert it to notation automatically. There's nothing to really stop you these days.

Luke flees the scene
02-10-2007, 10:18 AM
I usually base my songs off something I've experienced or something I'm going through currently. Maybe I'm angry about something, whether it's something personal or has to do with other stuff, I might be in love, I might be sad, depressed, lonely, happy, ect. If I have inspiration, I can usually finish a song within a couple of minutes.

Carrie Ann Eggert
02-12-2007, 04:46 AM
I have to say I'm the same way as JaniceR. I hear songs in my head...full-fledged songs that I have to write down and even record on a recorder to get them to go away. I'm not able to play an instrument, though...so it limits me.
Recently my uncle, who has been in a band (smalltime local) and does some recording of his own, found out I have this passion for music. So we're actually going to try to get something together. It'll be nice to hear instruments with my vocals and maybe I won't have to give up on the idea of never having anyone hear my awesome lyrics. :)
Did I also mention that I'm completely modest?

LOL

Carrie:)

moblues
02-12-2007, 04:56 AM
I have to say I'm the same way as JaniceR. I hear songs in my head...full-fledged songs that I have to write down and even record on a recorder to get them to go away. I'm not able to play an instrument, though...so it limits me.
Recently my uncle, who has been in a band (smalltime local) and does some recording of his own, found out I have this passion for music. So we're actually going to try to get something together. It'll be nice to hear instruments with my vocals and maybe I won't have to give up on the idea of never having anyone hear my awesome lyrics. :)
Did I also mention that I'm completely modest?

LOL

Carrie:)


Good luck, Carrie. I can't wait to hear your work. Your uncle is a gem for helping you.




Mike