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I have the hardest time developing song ideas and finishing songs...hundreds of song ideas on HD, but no end in sight... In particular, I'm working on a song for my wife for one of her xmas presents, but I haven't been able to get past the first chorus. When I was playing in bands until about 8 years ago, it was easy - we all just fed off one another writing live. On my own though, I've only been able to complete two songs in the past decade. Any tips or methods you're willing to share? What do you find works best? Peace and Thanks, Harold [ 11-22-2001: Message edited by: 'rold ]
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I dunno that having a collaborator necessarily defeats the purpose. It can help quite a bit. Look at it this way...if you could have managed to magically transform yourself into John Lennon (while he was alive, of course) and wrote a song for your wife, do you think she'd have minded if McCartney helped with a bit of it? And doesn't the end justify the means?
"Cisco Kid, was a friend of mine"
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Hey 'rold! I've contributed ideas along these lines to some other threads in the past, and recently on the Guitar and Keyboard Forums. You might try searching over there. There are so many ways to approach songwriting, but I think the most important way to start is to know what you want to talk about and what you want to say. I find that it's a good idea to hash out some ideas (words and music) then go off an do some relaxing, non-musical activity like taking a walk. This fires up my creativity and gives me "hints" to the direction I should go. I like to lay down a musical idea and listen to it at home, in the car, etc. That gets me into the spirit of the song. I usually finish the lyric by improvising ideas (and writing them down) as I'm listening to the groove. If I sit in a quiet room and try to write a lyric "seriously," it always sounds like some half-assed, dopey crap. Fresh ideas come while you're improvising, and of course you can always edit them later. The music should only be as complicated as it needs to be to convey the idea. Complex ideas require too much management and rob critical brain horsepower from your imagination. My two cents, which is worth about three north of the border. :)
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[quote]Originally posted by popmusic: [b]Hey Rold -- Some songs take months to finish. [/b][/quote] Or years for that matter.. :D [quote][b] Some are completed in 15 minutes. [/b][/quote] You mean like [url=http://captainrold.iuma.com]this one?[/url] (streamed at IUMA) LOL - started writing this 15 minutes before the session.. :D [quote][b]If you're trying to get in the habit of songwriting, then it might be a good idea to make it a habit -- force yourself to write songs from beginning to end, no matter how lame they are. Truly inspired songs don't happen all the time, and if you're in the writing mode often, you'll be ready for when the inspiration strikes. But don't be afraid to write a bunch of totally awful songs. (Just don't show 'em to anybody! ;) )[/b][/quote] Damn - I think I asked this question a little late...had I known I was going to do this for my wife, I would've been asking a few months ago...Then again - maybe I could apply your idea and just devote myself to a song a day (no matter how cheezy :p : ) until the creative muscle is built up and I could finish the one by xmas... [quote] [b] Regarding the song you're writing for your wife as a Christmas present... You've got a deadline you're dealing with, and some folks get inspired when they know if there's a deadline... [/b][/quote] Yeah - deadlines definitely work for me...both the two songs I actually finished in the past decade were on deadline... [quote][b] Good luck![/b][/quote] Thanks pops - I'll put all these to work.. :) Have a good one, eh? Peace, Harold [ 11-23-2001: Message edited by: 'rold ]
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[quote]Originally posted by Tedster: [b]I dunno that having a collaborator necessarily defeats the purpose. It can help quite a bit. Look at it this way...if you could have managed to magically transform yourself into John Lennon (while he was alive, of course) and wrote a song for your wife, do you think she'd have minded if McCartney helped with a bit of it? And doesn't the end justify the means?[/b][/quote] Hi Tedster, You and pops definitely have a point re: the collaborator. You wouldn't happen to have McCartney's number kicking around would you?.. :D It's the lyrics I have the hardest time with...Considering it's for the wife, the lyrics are going to be fairly personal (read: cheezy :D ) and I don't know if I'd be comfortable with someone else writing lyrics for my wife.. :p : The music's fairly simple: DMaj, DMajDim, G and D again...three (two and a half?)chord wonder so far.. :D ...some help with the progression might do the trick tho... :) Thanks Ted - I'll see if it could work. :) Peace, Harold [ 11-23-2001: Message edited by: 'rold ]
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[quote]Originally posted by dansouth@yahoo.com: [b]Hey 'rold! [/b][/quote] Hey Dan!.. :) [quote][b] I've contributed ideas along these lines to some other threads in the past, and recently on the Guitar and Keyboard Forums. You might try searching over there.[/b][/quote] Thanks man, I will do! [quote][b] There are so many ways to approach songwriting, but I think the most important way to start is to know what you want to talk about and what you want to say. I find that it's a good idea to hash out some ideas (words and music) then go off an do some relaxing, non-musical activity like taking a walk. This fires up my creativity and gives me "hints" to the direction I should go.[/b][/quote] hmmm...that sounds like a cool approach! Typically, I write in the immediate presence of a number of instruments and the gear, so the technical end might actually be taking up too much energy at this point... [quote][b] I like to lay down a musical idea and listen to it at home, in the car, etc. That gets me into the spirit of the song. I usually finish the lyric by improvising ideas (and writing them down) as I'm listening to the groove. If I sit in a quiet room and try to write a lyric "seriously," it always sounds like some half-assed, dopey crap. Fresh ideas come while you're improvising, and of course you can always edit them later..[/b][/quote] I'm really not all that great at improv with vox, but I will definitely see if I could enhance that muscle. Now that you mention it though, my good stuff (musically, anyway)definitely does come out of improv.. :) And yeah - I hear ya on the "serious" approach - always seems to yield the cheeziest work.. :D [quote][b]The music should only be as complicated as it needs to be to convey the idea. Complex ideas require too much management and rob critical brain horsepower from your imagination.[/b][/quote] You know, I have to admit it's kind of funny hearing you say that after having listened to the amazing work you have on [url=http://http://artists.mp3s.com/artists/241/dan_south.html]your mp3 site.[/url] :) Speaking of which, what synths did you use on Rain Dance? Mega-cool sound.. :) [quote][b]My two cents, which is worth about three north of the border. :) [/b][/quote] Don't rub it in... ;) :D Peace and Thanks, Harold [ 11-23-2001: Message edited by: 'rold ]
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[quote]Originally posted by meriphew: [b]Have you ever tried using those scattered parts and "assembling" them into a complete song? Sometimes I'll use "old" parts and join them with new ones(old part = verse, new part = chorus etc. etc.)to form an interesting song. Good luck. [url=http://www.meriphew.com]www.meriphew.com[/url] [/b][/quote] Hey Man, Thanks for your input.. :) I can't recall ever having done that - usually the songs I write come out in different keys and/or rythms so one never really reminds me of the other...It's a cool idea though, and I'll look through the all the other half-songs I have kicking around to see if something will fit.. Peace and Thanks, Harold BTW - really cool stuff on your site.. :)
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There's a whole songwriter's forum from up your way called the Muse's Muse (sorry I don't know how to make links). It's a really great community created by a songwriter named Jodi Krangle. There are articles and more than I can handle until I reach the end of the internet, but you will find lots of kindred souls there along with collaborators. I used to be really into photography and most photographers will tell you that you snap sometimes hundreds of shots before a gem appears. Kinda like panning for gold. I have more fragments than songs, and two of my best were written more or less in 15 minutes early in the morning. The rest labor on. "There is no try. There is only do and do not." - Yoda BTW - I've been working on a wife-song for about twelve years and your post has inspired me to dig it back up. Henry

He not busy being born

Is busy dyin'.

 

...Bob Dylan

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Rold, Here's a suggestion. I thought of this when I read one of your replies explaining that you were getting stuck on the chord progression. Let's forget about chords and instruments for a moment. Let's focus on what your lady is going to really hear: your voice, your words, and the melody. In fact, let's focus on the very last line of the song, the one that she's going to remember for hours after the song has finished playing. You probably have this line already worked out, but if not, try to define it before you go on. Put down the guitar, shut down the studio, and just sing. Sing it until it's exactly the way you'd want to sing it to her. The next step is to come up with chords that support this line. You'll need your guitar or keyboard for this - a simple piano patch will do. Put your other chords aside for now; you can always refer back to them later. When you work out the words and music to this last important line, you should be able to "work backwards" to fill in the rest of the song. Step back to the line that comes before the last one and work that out in the same way. If you get stuck, record yourself playing and singing that last line. Then listen to the playback in a relaxed place - in the car, on your walkman, etc. Ideas should start coming to you. Keep working on these ideas and refining them, and you'll get closer and closer to what you want. At some point you should try to pin down the overall song structure. Here are some suggestions. 1. Verse Verse 2. Verse Verse Bridge Verse 3. Verse Chorus Verse Chorus 4. Verse Chorus Verse Chorus Bridge Chorus Remember that that last important line should come at the end of either your verses, your choruses, or both. Hope this helps! BTW, here's the list of instruments I used on Rain Dance. Good luck! Kick, snare, hi hat, lead synth, vocal pad, elec pno 1: Triton Elec piano 2, string pad: JV-1080 Toms, cymbals: K2500 Sample and hold: JD-990 Bass: Lakland 55-94
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[quote]Originally posted by 'rold: [b][i]I have the hardest time developing song ideas and finishing songs...hundreds of song ideas on HD, but no end in sight..[/i][/b][/quote] Here are my thoughts: Basically what you describe is a writer's block. As long as you are not hung up on 'stream of conscience -ness' stuff, where you re-writing is a sin, I would suggest a technique called free-writing. The basic idea is simple: you begin writing your song, or lyrics or whatever, and what record or write anything that comes to mind without stopping. If you can't think of anything, then keep writing "I can't think of anything" or keep playing the same chords over -but don't stop. Sooner or later you are going to going to come up with something. It might be a really stupid verse, but it might lead into kind of a neat chorus. The stupid verse, might be something you later redo into a cool middle-8. By the time you are done, you will probably have a 10-minute song that starts off going nowhere, but has sections in it that go well together, or suggest other possibilities. At some point, get away from your project. Go take a walk, or get something to eat, and then come back to your song with fresh ears. I think you might be surprised at what you are capable of writing. I have heard that when Paul McCartney was writing Yesterday, he had the tune in his head but no lyrics. So, he just kept singing "Scrambled eggs, da da da da da da scrambled eggs" -I think he was having breakfast at the time. Eventually "Scrambled eggs" turned into "Yesterday" -a classic. Good Luck

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[quote]Originally posted by henrysb3: [b]There's a whole songwriter's forum from up your way called the Muse's Muse (sorry I don't know how to make links). It's a really great community created by a songwriter named Jodi Krangle. There are articles and more than I can handle until I reach the end of the internet, but you will find lots of kindred souls there along with collaborators.[/b][/quote] Hey, Henry - thanks! Definitely will look that up.. :) [quote][b]I used to be really into photography and most photographers will tell you that you snap sometimes hundreds of shots before a gem appears. Kinda like panning for gold. I have more fragments than songs, and two of my best were written more or less in 15 minutes early in the morning. The rest labor on.[/b][/quote] hmm...excellent point. Specifically with this tune, I just really want to create something that sends a really strong message. Unfortunately, my written-in-15-minutes approach probably won't cut it.. :D I'll have to keep that point in mind with all the other projects though.. :) [quote][b]BTW - I've been working on a wife-song for about twelve years and your post has inspired me to dig it back up. Henry[/b][/quote] Right on - glad to hear this thread has meant positive influence on others, too.. :) Thanks for your input.. :) Namaste, Harold
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[quote]Originally posted by dansouth@yahoo.com: [b]Rold, Here's a suggestion. I thought of this when I read one of your replies explaining that you were getting stuck on the chord progression. Let's forget about chords and instruments for a moment. Let's focus on what your lady is going to really hear: your voice, your words, and the melody. In fact, let's focus on the very last line of the song, the one that she's going to remember for hours after the song has finished playing. You probably have this line already worked out, but if not, try to define it before you go on. Put down the guitar, shut down the studio, and just sing. Sing it until it's exactly the way you'd want to sing it to her.[/b][/quote] Niiiiiiice! I'm definitely going to have to give this an attempt! Can't say I've ever tried to write a song without the instrument nearby.. :) [quote] [b]The next step is to come up with chords that support this line. You'll need your guitar or keyboard for this - a simple piano patch will do. Put your other chords aside for now; you can always refer back to them later. When you work out the words and music to this last important line, you should be able to "work backwards" to fill in the rest of the song. Step back to the line that comes before the last one and work that out in the same way. [/b][/quote] I've never tried working with lyrics first...in the vein of this kind of song, that may be the best solution.. :) [quote] [b] At some point you should try to pin down the overall song structure. Here are some suggestions. 1. Verse Verse 2. Verse Verse Bridge Verse 3. Verse Chorus Verse Chorus 4. Verse Chorus Verse Chorus Bridge Chorus[/b][/quote] I have the first verse and chorus and there's barely a bridge (the verse kind of "flows" right into the chorus), so I'll have to try and play with this approach until something fits.. I'm definitely going to try this approach with some of the other songs too.. :) [quote] [b] Remember that that last important line should come at the end of either your verses, your choruses, or both. Hope this helps![/b][/quote] Will do and it definitely has! Thanks a million, Dan - I owe ya one. :) [quote] [b]BTW, here's the list of instruments I used on Rain Dance. Good luck! Kick, snare, hi hat, lead synth, vocal pad, elec pno 1: Triton Elec piano 2, string pad: JV-1080 Toms, cymbals: K2500 Sample and hold: JD-990 Bass: Lakland 55-94[/b][/quote] cooool...that is such a great sound you put into [url=http://downloads.mp3.com/AAIBQs7fFQBBflPYLwGAwARub3JtUAQAAABSTbEDAFEBAAAAUwEAAABUAQAAAAgAQ11E_zvTuzuT0HL3ZD8rVKZe7rcC/Rain_Dance.mp3]that track![/url] Amazing stuff - such a great vibe.. :) Peace and Thanks again, Harold [ 11-24-2001: Message edited by: 'rold ]
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[quote]Originally posted by Super 8: [b] Here are my thoughts: Basically what you describe is a writer's block. [/b][/quote] Yep, no doubt...does it always last a decade? :D [quote][b] The basic idea is simple: you begin writing your song, or lyrics or whatever, and what record or write anything that comes to mind without stopping. If you can't think of anything, then keep writing "I can't think of anything" or keep playing the same chords over -but don't stop. Sooner or later you are going to going to come up with something. It might be a really stupid verse, but it might lead into kind of a neat chorus. The stupid verse, might be something you later redo into a cool middle-8. By the time you are done, you will probably have a 10-minute song that starts off going nowhere, but has sections in it that go well together, or suggest other possibilities. At some point, get away from your project. Go take a walk, or get something to eat, and then come back to your song with fresh ears. I think you might be surprised at what you are capable of writing.[/b][/quote] hmmm...sounds like a great idea.. :) It strikes me as the kind of approach I took with the bands I was playing with "back in the day". Mind you taking a break was never really an option, but on my own this sounds like a great idea.. :) [quote][b] I have heard that when Paul McCartney was writing Yesterday, he had the tune in his head but no lyrics. So, he just kept singing "Scrambled eggs, da da da da da da scrambled eggs" -I think he was having breakfast at the time. Eventually "Scrambled eggs" turned into "Yesterday" -a classic. [/b][/quote] I always thought it was "Leprosy...all my skin is falling off of me...I'm not half the man I used to be..." :eek: :D But I hear what you're saying - and going to put it to use.. :) [quote][b] Good Luck[/b][/quote] Thanks man! And you too - for whatever you're working on.. :) Peace, Harold
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I find that what is best when i feel like you are describing is to just run a little tape recorder(radio shack or the like) and record my self trying different ideas. Humming melodies and twisting them into different chords and going in different directions with them. Try to find catchy parts and if you for some reason do something that is cool but can't remember the timing, then you got it on tape. Also it is cool to go back and listen to the tape because alot of mistakes that you diregard while doing them, actually will inspire a line going somewhere when you listen to it again and you can develop it. Keep another tape handy to sing or play any good little snippets that you come up, when your done with the session you can just rewind the "running" tape and start over. This is a great way to colaborate too because often the other person does something that hits you but you aren't able to descibe it to them and they can't do it again, but it's on tape. JH
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Hi ya rold, I got this book "how to write a hit song", free, thru a subscription of musician mag., or something, by "hit" songwriter Molly-Ann Lieken. My first thought was, oh fuck no, I ain't reading anything about how to write "Wind beneath my wings" . Anyway, for lack of anything to read, I picked it up & couldn't put it down! Here are some of the things I learned from it. Come up with a title, any title. Lets use 'Little red schoolhouse'. Then, jot down 50 - 100 thing that come to mind about this little red schoolhouse. ie: is the school old or new?, in what state is it located?, how big is it?, etc. etc.
In two days, it won't matter.
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(con't) then you amass a ton of lyrical ideas for the song. The author quotes, "Every hit song must have a hook", (no shit), she goes onto say "the hook is the strongest line of the lyric sung on top of the strongest line of melody". Heres some 'one shots' from the book. -create something that is melodically unpredictable. The fewer the beats lyrically, the greater chance the composer has to create a memorable melody. -most hit songs are 32 bars long -you should get to the 'hook' within 25 seconds, or less. -keep your audience suprised, if the tune is too predictable, you'll lose everybody, fast. -write the melody line first, *then* go find the chords that enhance it. -be prepared to write your verses and choruses over & over again, maybe 50 times. These are things you probably already know, but to have them all in one book kinda validates it all. highly recommended. "How to write a hit song" by:Molly-ann Lieken (Published by Hal*Leonard) -Matt
In two days, it won't matter.
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Hi Guys, Thanks for the input! JH, I'll try your suggestions and Matt - I'll look around for that book.. I'm not going to type much right now; one handed typing - lost a nice chunk of my left hand trying to cut a stubborn floor tile earlier..damn wound is 1.5" across by 1/4" inch deep...bloody murphy :rolleyes: I'll get back to both of you by email shortly.. Thanks Again! Peace, Harold [ 11-25-2001: Message edited by: 'rold ]
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[b]-most hit songs are 32 bars long -you should get to the 'hook' within 25 seconds, or less. -keep your audience suprised, if the tune is too predictable, you'll lose everybody, fast. -write the melody line first, *then* go find the chords that enhance it. [/b] These are good suggestions, but it's important to remember that there is now ONE recipe for writing a good song. Some songs start as a riff. Some start as a jam. Some are based on an intruguing harmonic or rhythmic figure. [b]-be prepared to write your verses and choruses over & over again, maybe 50 times.[/b] Be prepared to move on before you waste too much time on an unsalvageable idea.
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[quote]Originally posted by dansouth@yahoo.com: [b]Harold, Take care of that TALENTED hand, man! We want to see you back on the six-string ASAC (as soon as comfortable)! Dan :) [/b][/quote] lol - Thanks, Dan..appreciate the support.. :) It's a bit better today; I'm surprised I got it to stop bleeding - it's a fairly deep wound. But all will be better in time.. :) Funny you mention the guitar - every time I have a hand injury the guitar and bass playing ability is the first thing I worry about.. :D Peace and thanks, Harold
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[quote]Originally posted by Hippie: [b](con't) then you amass a ton of lyrical ideas for the song. The author quotes, "Every hit song must have a hook", (no shit), she goes onto say "the hook is the strongest line of the lyric sung on top of the strongest line of melody". Heres some 'one shots' from the book. -create something that is melodically unpredictable. The fewer the beats lyrically, the greater chance the composer has to create a memorable melody. -most hit songs are 32 bars long -you should get to the 'hook' within 25 seconds, or less. -keep your audience suprised, if the tune is too predictable, you'll lose everybody, fast. -write the melody line first, *then* go find the chords that enhance it. -be prepared to write your verses and choruses over & over again, maybe 50 times. These are things you probably already know, but to have them all in one book kinda validates it all. highly recommended. "How to write a hit song" by:Molly-ann Lieken (Published by Hal*Leonard) -Matt[/b][/quote] Actually, the only thing in there I kinda had a clue of is the "getting to the hook within 25 seconds thing"...I took marketing in college and one of the things they taught us was people make up their minds about something within 18 seconds, so I can see how that would work in this case too. But the rest of it I didn't know and I really appreciate you posting this...I'll buy the book too - sounds great! Thanks a million, Harold
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[quote]Originally posted by dansouth@yahoo.com: [b][b]-most hit songs are 32 bars long -you should get to the 'hook' within 25 seconds, or less. -keep your audience suprised, if the tune is too predictable, you'll lose everybody, fast. -write the melody line first, *then* go find the chords that enhance it. [/b] These are good suggestions, but it's important to remember that there is now ONE recipe for writing a good song. Some songs start as a riff. Some start as a jam. Some are based on an intruguing harmonic or rhythmic figure. [b]-be prepared to write your verses and choruses over & over again, maybe 50 times.[/b] Be prepared to move on before you waste too much time on an unsalvageable idea.[/b][/quote] I totally agree with your comments, this is 'One recipe', -some of my best stuff comes from just strumming on guit., and blurting the first thing that comes to mind. And, I know what you mean about "move on before you waste too much time...." -I have the attention span of a house fly :D , I cannot work on a song more than a few days, I just get to bored with it, & my belief is if it needs that much work, it must not be that good. But, I have no 'hits' in my name, so I'm open to a professionals' advice, the tips are not 'gospel', just another piece in the puzzle. Matt
In two days, it won't matter.
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