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Multi-instrumentalists
#3002647 08/10/19 06:23 PM
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Do you have a certain instrument you start writing on or do you bounce around? For me I just pick up whatever I feel like playing at the time and then noodle till something strikes my fancy smile

Bill

PS- I like the term multi-instrumentalist...it's a big word like mayonnaise wink

Re: Multi-instrumentalists
Bill Heins #3002652 08/10/19 06:50 PM
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Depends...most of the time it's at the keyboard. For some things I might start with guitar and for other things it starts and finishes with Sibelius (paper). There are so many ways to approach it and all are valid and worth exploring.

Re: Multi-instrumentalists
Bill Heins #3002757 08/11/19 04:34 PM
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All my songs have several instruments, mostly acoustic type instruments.
I usually fill up 10-15 midi tracks.

While anything keys related is my main instrument, I can handle basic rhythm guitar.
From there , bass is easy and hella fun. I also can fake around on violin and played flute in high school.

I feel comfortable
starting a new song with a chord progression on keys or guitar.

I think most keyboard musicians can discern, in the recording, that the acoustic instrument, like flute,
or violin or horn or sax is a sampled instrument.

My non musician listeners, however, believe acoustic instruments are used.

Re: Multi-instrumentalists
Bill Heins #3002776 08/11/19 06:07 PM
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How and what I write absolutely depends on what instrument I’m using at the time - not just guitar and bass vs. keyboard...but piano vs organ vs synth. I even have tunes that have started with a vocal phrase...


dB

Re: Multi-instrumentalists
Bill Heins #3002808 08/11/19 09:11 PM
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Here's another way to get the creative flow going. With this technique/approach I don't have to wait for inspiration or search for chords, melody ideas, harmonic choices. I have the tools I need in front of me and I simply explore them. You have to have a creative bone and instincts, but it's a great tool to understand and can be used in a variety of situations. It's too much to go into on a forum, but basically I'm setting up my interval relationships. I will shift them at will into different places on the staff and use leading/passing tones and Bingo. It's always interesting to see where things might take you on a given day. I just try to stay out of the way. smile This mockup isn't the greatest, but it doesn't need to be. It's just an exercise in the technique.

Re: Multi-instrumentalists
Bill Heins #3002818 08/11/19 10:52 PM
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Its cool how we are discussing how we start and perform the song start process.

I am interested in song structure and transitions.

I almost always have some type of intro. My recent songs have
a 5-10 second intro. Based on tempo that ranges from 8-16 measures.

Early in the creative process, I work out the intro , while fleshing
out my chord progression in the verse or first main section{ my term].

Re: Multi-instrumentalists
Bill Heins #3002891 08/12/19 01:44 PM
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Even in my days when I was primarily playing bass, I would write at the piano. I was never very effective building songs up from basslines -- they always felt too much like Generic Riff #7. I would much more often come up with an interesting melody when inspired by a chord progression.

These days I'll often start writing away from an instrument. My hands often go to familiar places when I'm trying to write, and I like to defeat that tendency (or at least kick it down the curb a bit after I've established something that appeals to me in my brain).


Samuel B. Lupowitz
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Re: Multi-instrumentalists
Bill Heins #3003010 08/13/19 04:43 AM
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I play keys, sax, bass, and guitar. I can play simple beats on drums but don't own a set. I can play just a little clarinet and have dabbled on Violin. I'm not an accomplished writer on any instrument. That said, I sometimes feel like my strongest writing is on my weakest instruments. Not sure why that is, but it seems like I can come up with some super cool novel idea on guitar and can't write anything on keys. Here's what I DON'T know"

1) is it just that I think it's cool because I wrote it on an instrument that I'm not proficient at? Would a guitar player feel the same way about something I wrote on guitar?
2) Am I knocking myself on my keyboard written songs because I'm aware of so many great keyboard players and nothing I write will ever be good enough?


Dan

Acoustic/Electric stringed instruments ranging from 4 to 230 strings, hammered, picked, fingered, slapped, and plucked. Analog and Digital Electronic instruments, reeds, and throat/mouth.
Re: Multi-instrumentalists
Bill Heins #3003012 08/13/19 04:49 AM
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Let me add.... I've heard guys who had no formal keys training come up with some cool sounding stuff. First thought is "well that's really simple stuff, whatever" but it sounds good. I'm guessing same with the guitar stuff I write. Point is that there's sort of 2 things going on....what SOUNDS good, and what is TECHNICALLY COMPETENT, and maybe a third...WHAT IS MUSICALLY INTERESTING. these are all separate things that, when they come together, result in a winner. People just pecking at keys can come up with something that sounds good. Me messing on the guitar can come up with something that sounds good. Good songwriting is a separate thing that transcends instruments. Look at the Beatles. George Martin wasn't sure about them at first because he was skeptical of their musical abilities. The rest is history.


Dan

Acoustic/Electric stringed instruments ranging from 4 to 230 strings, hammered, picked, fingered, slapped, and plucked. Analog and Digital Electronic instruments, reeds, and throat/mouth.
Re: Multi-instrumentalists
Bill Heins #3003025 08/13/19 11:02 AM
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I know some people who are "freer" on instruments that are not their primary instrument, because of the hangups they have about their primary. A former piano teacher of mine started off with brass, I think, and he's very self-conscious about playing trumpet, etc. I've read and heard others say that when they write on other instruments, it takes them in directions they wouldn't have thought of on their main instrument.


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Re: Multi-instrumentalists
Bill Heins #3003052 08/13/19 03:43 PM
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I think also just the nature and mechanics of the instrument can take you in different directions.....open strings on a guitar, black vs white keys on a keyboard, etc. sax and brass certainly lead you down certain paths depending on the key.


Dan

Acoustic/Electric stringed instruments ranging from 4 to 230 strings, hammered, picked, fingered, slapped, and plucked. Analog and Digital Electronic instruments, reeds, and throat/mouth.
Re: Multi-instrumentalists
Bill Heins #3003061 08/13/19 04:22 PM
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I've never had any piano or guitar lessons. I'm a self taught buffoon. I started on guitar and alto sax in the 5th grade and then when I was around 13 I discovered Booker T and have been chasing him ever sense. Got a Hammond when I was 15. I usually start everything at the keys, but I've got guitars laying around the house. There's a nylon yamaha on a stand next to the couch in the living room, a Fender flat top strung Nashville next to the couch in the den, and where I'm sitting now there's a Taylor and a strat within reach. If I'm doing a classic rock or country cross over piece for a client many times I'll write them from the guitar perspective if for no other reason than it's fun. I'm not that good on it. It's a blast though. I'm very limited as to what I can play on it, but who cares. lol

Re: Multi-instrumentalists
Bill Heins #3003535 08/16/19 06:08 PM
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Mostly self taught as well. Took some piano lessons for a while until I realized what I could do with the guitar tab (around 6th grade). Picked up guitar, bass and drums on my own. Took trombone and baritone horn lessons for a couple of years in school as well, but I haven't touched either of those in years

I keep an acoustic guitar nearby my couch, another one near the piano rig and an acoustic Variax in the studio. I do not have an electric in the house...but I have four really nice basses - wish I played them more... hider

dB

Re: Multi-instrumentalists
Bill Heins #3003611 08/17/19 01:14 AM
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Definitely self-taught here as well, and it shows grin I did do a few months of organ lessons which helped for sure, but aside from a school-based music subject where I learned the basics of reading music, that's it. I do 100% of my writing on keyboard as that's all I know grin


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Re: Multi-instrumentalists
Bill Heins #3003657 08/17/19 01:09 PM
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I took 2 years of guitar lessons. Had a great teacher.

I took 1 organ lesson. Teacher insisted I learn " Going out of my head":

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Wu9moZvdUTA

There was no 2nd lesson on the organ grin

Re: Multi-instrumentalists
Bill Heins #3056691 08/01/20 02:56 AM
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Originally Posted by Bill Heins
Do you have a certain instrument you start writing on or do you bounce around?

Several people mentioned the common problem of picking up an instrument and then finding themselves falling into familiar patterns (relying on muscle memory?). I do recall a Keyboard Magazine interview with Tony Banks in the 1970s where he mentioned that he often wrote on guitar for that very reason. In the past two or three years my version of Bank's solution has been to do a fair bit of writing on the computer and the iPad. I use Finale and Cubasis respectively for this. Now and then I will refer to a keyboard (my main thing) or guitar to work through a part. By dragging notes and shapes around on the screens I am somewhat freed from going where my hands tend to go and I find myself hearing independent lines better. This isn't the be all and end all, but I have surprised myself sometimes, especially in relation to coming up with more interesting chords and voicings. I try to be mindful about true instrument ranges and what is physically/technically possible for a musician to perform the music. However, while I play alright, I'm not a chops monster and sometimes the biggest challenge for me is in learning to play the music that I wrote so that I can eventually record a human performance of it.

My favorite thing about writing on the iPad is that I can do that almost anywhere. In my pre-covid world when I felt that travel was safe I loved that I could go anywhere and still work on creative ideas.

Re: Multi-instrumentalists
Bill Heins #3056764 08/01/20 04:10 PM
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Originally Posted by Bill Heins
Do you have a certain instrument you start writing on or do you bounce around? For me I just pick up whatever I feel like playing at the time and then noodle till something strikes my fancy smile

Bill

PS- I like the term multi-instrumentalist...it's a big word like mayonnaise wink

I usually write lyrics first, there doesn't have to be an instrument around. I've written verses using the roof of my car for a desk, out in the middle of a parking lot. That's where and when the verses came to me.
Most of the time I find the underlying structures on an acoustic guitar, probably because it is so handy. Grab it and start playing. That said, it could be a steel or nylon string, a 12 string or a requinto, depends on what I have out at the moment and which room I am in.

For tracking, finding a beat and tempo come first, then scratch tracks to mark out all locations. I build from there.

Mmmm... mayonnaise...


There is never enough time to be in a hurry...
Re: Multi-instrumentalists
KuruPrionz #3056790 08/01/20 07:11 PM
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KuruPrionz, do you "hear" a melody in whole or in part as you compose those lyrics, or is that something that you work on later? If so, do you compose melody and chords together, or harmonize your melody later, after the melody and its ryhthm are fairly solid?

I have used a similar lyric writing process sometimes, but with varying degrees of success. I have found myself using the voice recorder function on my phone when a section of lyric and melody comes to me. Listening back I sometimes hear myself cursing out traffic between melody lines 😄, but that's only because I don't handle the phone while I'm driving. I just let it run.

Re: Multi-instrumentalists
Piktor #3056799 08/01/20 09:26 PM
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Originally Posted by Piktor
KuruPrionz, do you "hear" a melody in whole or in part as you compose those lyrics, or is that something that you work on later? If so, do you compose melody and chords together, or harmonize your melody later, after the melody and its ryhthm are fairly solid?

I have used a similar lyric writing process sometimes, but with varying degrees of success. I have found myself using the voice recorder function on my phone when a section of lyric and melody comes to me. Listening back I sometimes hear myself cursing out traffic between melody lines 😄, but that's only because I don't handle the phone while I'm driving. I just let it run.


It really varies. Sometimes I write a line while singing it. If it has a good "ring" to it and nobody tells me that it sounds just like something else then I go with it. I've gotten up at 3am before and an entire song, lyrics - melody - style just flowed out into existence. I truly don't know where it comes from but I am grateful.

I used to be determined to write songs that were musically not like anybody else but I've learned that I need to allow mysefl to let creativity flow - whatever the results may be.
I've also gigged a ton and you can learn some useful things by playing other people's songs. I don't hesitate to borrow structural aspects of songs. I've never been in a "copy" band, we would cover a tune but reality rears it's head and you quickly realize that it is futile to try and sound like anybody but yourself.

I spent 9 years in a band in Fresno that maybe practiced a dozen times total, did not have set lists or even a list of songs that the lead vocalist/guitarist knew. He would just launch and you had to be quick!!! Plus we took requests. I played lead guitar and sang harmony vocals mostly. At one point we had problems getting bassists to I switched to bass, I LOVE bass but you really have to know how the song goes. So that was tough. We were booked every Thurs/Fri/Sat and sometimes on Weds and Sun.

Then I moved up here and after a Motown band and a variety band I ended up with another singer who knows umpty bajillion songs off the top of his head, has no set list or song list and just goes. We also take requests.
By now, I am really comfortable with that sort of spontenaety. I think it's helped my songwriting, I just do it now. Before I used to think about it - big mistake!!!!


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Re: Multi-instrumentalists
Bill Heins #3056953 08/03/20 03:42 AM
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do you record ? SoundCloud is easy to use

Re: Multi-instrumentalists
GregC #3061101 09/04/20 02:08 AM
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Originally Posted by GregC
do you record ? SoundCloud is easy to use

I do record. I have a pretty decent home studio space and a good handle on what I am doing. There is no end to learning and I am not afraid to ask stupid questions.
I just finished re-orgainizing my plugins for the second time, with a goal of finding my favorites and moving them all to a single folder.
Still learning what my mics are good for, I've a mish-mash accumulation that is mostly the result of lucky finds and partly due to research and deal-hunting.

Currently working on a backlog of tunes. Starting with the ones I've gotten copyright on and will get more copyright protection as I go.
I am probably a bit too picky for my own good but I can't afford to hire the players I know for drums or keys so sometimes I find myself in a rabbit hole.
Something new and valuable is learned every time and things are starting to move a little faster. I've got guitar and bass covered and am getting used to the sound of my voice. I think everybody goes through that.
Singing live I didn't think about it much, playing it back naked on studio monitors is another thing entirely.

Perspective is paramount, so many great songs that I love to listen to are shockingly simple arrangements. The lyric/story/vocals and the groove carry them.
It's a lot of work keeping it simple!!!!!


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Re: Multi-instrumentalists
Dave Bryce #3061978 09/10/20 07:17 PM
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Originally Posted by Dave Bryce
I do not have an electric in the house...
Well, that changed pretty quick. roll idea
I currently have five. w00t

dB


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