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Lyrics and Melodies and Songs, Oh My!


ThisSiteSucks

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I'm not a great guitarist; probably not even good. But I try.

 

Thing is, I think I can "write" songs (aka lyrics) but have no idea how to tie "music" (akd chords, rythms etc). Off the top of my head, I swear:

 

"left my job in Georgia,

went down to Tennesse,

tired of working for a livin'

left my family to be free"

 

"spent some time playn' honky tonk,

wasn't making any money,

left that life behind me,

just like the rest of me"

 

Ohhh, cant someone find me my place,

make some music from my guitar case,

tired of wasting time,

on same 'ol songs,

can't someone just help this,

country boy gone wrong"

 

not good, not great, but it's a tune. But I just can't put chords to it (and I have a million other lyrics in my head) :)

in hindsight, 3rd verse not that good :) LOL

 

poetic license

can't seem to find my place

making music is a waste,

everytime I open

that old guitar case"

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possilbe Chorus :) LOL

"Oh, I'm tired of strummn' strings

I'm tired of my guitar,

just want to get some wings

and fly to the next bar"

 

"And drink some shots and even more beers,

and wonder why I think life isn't so near"

 

 

Ok I did a little editing, but I think it's a decent song...but dang it, how do you put A, Bflat, Cmajor etc. etc. to it????

BTW, Copyright Rootstonian, 2010

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I've written a tune or two in my time. Sometimes, I have the music first, then scramble to fit some lirycs to it. But when I think of words first, they're usually accompanied with some kind of tune.

Whitefang

I started out with NOTHING...and I still have most of it left!
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Ok, I'll ask the major question: Is there a tune to this ?

 

That's what I'm asking LOL

 

Should I pick a key and time signature? Maybe play it with I, IV, V chords in that key? I assume that would make it a "bluesy" song.

 

How about making it country? How about making it metal or hard rock???

 

I guess this is a "Compositon 101" question.

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Pick something...country, blues, metal, hard rock??? You're on the right track by getting others involved, I read somewhere that the best songs usually have at least two writers bouncing ideas off of each other...some are good at lyrics and some are more into the music side of things...the combo seems to work...so first thing to do if going it alone is to pick a key that works for your voice...if you've got the words and a melody in your mind, sing them out on tape and then like Fingersytle Jim said, find the rest of the chords by ear, you may even change a few here and there...and come back to it a day later and see if it still sounds good...just thinking out loud again...
Take care, Larryz
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Thanks, unfortunately, I can only sing notes that makes coyotes howl in the woods! LOL

 

And I should probably follow the tried and true method..2 verses, chorus (I don't know for sure but I consider a bridge a chorus without singing), solo 1, verse 3, chorus/bridge, solo 2, outro

 

Not to mention having a "theme" for a song; I just typed those lyrics off the top of my head with NO plan or theme in mind :)

 

I need to go buy one of those poster size Chord Charts and just try to put something together. If nothing else, I'll learn a ton of chords :)

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Looking at the off-the-top of your head lyrics I'd say you have poetic talent, and with your kicking around the rock metal and blues concepts, I'd pick a country rock vibe if you plan to stay with those lyrics...sounds like you'll be writing for someone else to sing the coyote parts, so you may want to pick an artist or a band that gives you inspiration to draw from...check out the most common chords used in any key for the I II III IV V VI VII (ie, minor, major, dim, etc.) and then just go for it like you're doing with the structure charted out...don't worry about your singing, just tape it to get the idea down, have someone else sing it later and then erase the coyote howling part...IMHO.
Take care, Larryz
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Here's the point I was tryin' to get at, Rooster (can I call you Rooster, I mean we just met & all... ;) ).

 

There are basically 2 ways to approach this.

Fit chords to a tune or fit a tune to a chord progression.

The first way usually winds up better, IMO, but either will work.

 

If you fit a tune to chord progression (which is the way most beginners start), you usually wind up with something kinda run of the mill, unless there's some great lyrics (which isn't the case here---not bad & definitely not meaning to belittle the effort but a line like "why I think life isn't so near" strikes me as still needing work).

Alternately you can find a melodic twist to make it distinctive. The advantage is that you're probably gonna be able to make use of all the emotional connotations that listeners attach to that progression when they've heard it (or something similar) in other songs.

It's quite possible you came up with these lyrics while, or after, listening to some other song. That's not necessaily stealing, just influence.

The bad part, however, is that you're unlikely to come up with a distinctive tune, otherwise you'd have done that already & be working from the "tune-to-progression" angle.

 

It's hard to me to think that you don't have some idea of a tune or at least a rhythm pattern for the lyrics...while you may doubt your ability to be tuneful, that's not the way you should think.

Heck, even at your worst you're prolly up to Dylan/Johnny Cash level.

 

From the outside, I think there are 2 things I, or anyone else, could do for you at this point.

Either throw together some chords & say, here's yer song, make a melody...or put together the whole package (tune & chord progression) & charge you double. :laugh:

 

As far as the genre, that's even wider. Sometimes songs can be set in a mutlitude of styles. However in this case it looks like you're set up for a country experience.

["spent some time playn' honky tonk"..."can't someone just help this,

country boy gone wrong"]

 

What strikes me when scanning ...

"left my job in Georgia,

went down to Tennesse,

tired of working for a livin'

left my family to be free"

...is how easily that would fit over something like "Sittin' On The Dock Of The Bay"...of course to do that would instantly make everyone else aware of that, though in this day of "mashups", that might be an angle that would work as a novelty.

That section also could fit over something like Chuck Berry's

.

Then again you could prolly shoehorn it into a blues form.

 

What strikes you as a good way to go ?

BTW, while this is not an inappropriate topic here, you have noticed the Songwriting Forum, eh ?

Might find someone looking to collaborate there...although I just checked & there's not much action at that place; past the 1st few posts they're in 2009 & there's still stuff on the 1st page last posted to in early 2008 !

 

 

 

 

d=halfnote
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Without getting into the particulas of this song for the moment-I` a little pressed for time-I think you are making it unnecessarily difficult and counterproductive for yourself by immediately thinking `what chords go with this`. You would be much better off starting with just a rhythm, or just a melody. Look at the words, find a rhythm. If a word hangs off the end of the rhythm or doesn`t reach it, consider a different word.

Generally, things that happen `off the top of your head` are not going to be finished lyrics. Ideas come first, then add the polish. Same with music-start with the simplest component possible. That gives you the most flexibility. You may end up adding all kinds of exotic extensions and inversions, but don`t think about that until you have a solid basic melody-unless there isn`t one. It`s good to know when that`s the right thing as well.

Same old surprises, brand new cliches-

 

Skipsounds on Soundclick:

www.soundclick.com/bands/pagemusic.cfm?bandid=602491

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yeah, fang, I new I would get busted on that. Making a "couple" of changes...see if it goes from "country" to "rock"

 

"I left my job in Georgia,

went on up to Tennesse,

got tired of working for a livin'

left my family to be free"

 

"spent time playn' honky tonk,

wasn't making any money,

so I left that life behind me,

just like my other family'

 

couldn't seem to find my place

got stuck in a bottomless hole

making music seemed a waste,

UNTIL I WENT ROCK & ROLL!!!"

 

first part can be acoustic and then just slam the power chord(s) after "UNTIL I..." and lyrics (off the top of my head on this too)

 

Didn't like them ole country riffs

don't need Willy's beat-up guitar

Just plug-in that big old Marshall stack

And dime it at the Rock & Roll Bar

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It's MUCH easier to craft music around lyrics than to write lyrics to music. If the lyrics come first you're in a good position.

 

Ever see things like "Don't Look Back?" Dylan sits at a typewriter first, clunking away, then picks up the guitar.

 

The Stones seem to develop both simultaneously with the tape rolling as they do it.

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Geographically, you would have to go UP to Tennessee. Poetic license only goes so far.

Didn't notice that...but y'know thwe listeners to a song would generally have no concept of locale of creator.

Think about John Fogerty.

 

People regularly write things quite successfully that have no connection to their personal situation.

Some would say that, in fact, the less one tries to follow the expression of one's personal circumstances the more generally appealing the result might be.

d=halfnote
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Many times, though, even some well recieved songs are personal. The writer simply figured a way to disguise the fact. It's been said that the person Bob Dylan is ragging so horribly in "Positively 4th Street" is Dylan himself!

Whitefang

I started out with NOTHING...and I still have most of it left!
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haven't played with it much..waiting on b-day present of M-Audio pc interface :)

 

Trying like:

G5, G5, G5(add 5th), G5

left my life in georgia

 

C5, C5, C5(add 5th), C5

went on up to tenessee

 

G5, G5, G5(add 5th), G5

got tired of workin for a livn'

 

D5, D5, D5(add 5th), D5

left my family to be free

 

 

Verses aren't bad, don't like the "rock and roll" bar one too much anymore. I need a good "chorus" hook now. To me, this song can go "Already Gone, Eagles" or "Johnny B Goode, Mr. Berry" :)

 

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Yeah, I need to go back to music school LOL. I guess it's the 6th note of the scale

 

So on G5 on with index on sixth string 3rd fret(G), ring finger on 5th string 5th fret(D), pinky on 5th string string 7th fret(E).

 

The old "boogie woogie" :)

 

If I want to do this right, I'll have to get some staff paper and write it out :)

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For me it sounds more natural in A

 

A

I left my home in Georgia

D7

Went up to Tennessee

A

Workin' for a livin'

E

Was never meant for me

 

A

Spent some time playin' honky tonk

D7

Wasn't makin' any cash

A turnaround E

Tax man came a knockin'

A

I just had to make a dash

 

 

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Agreed :) Moved it up 2 frets and all of a sudden it seemed to fit better

 

I'm still playing power chords (A at fith fret, 6th string). Are you playing the chords on the 1st and 2nd fret? Cuz that sounds really good too :)

 

I'm going to turn it into a blues tune...for example:

 

I left my home in Georgia, went on up to Tenessee

I left my home in Georgia, went on up to Tenessee

Tired of working for a livin', had to set myself free

 

Spent some time in Nashville, play' in honky tonk bars

Spent some time in Nashville, play' in honky tonk bars

Wasn't making no money here, leavn' Georgia seems so far

 

I just have to figure out how 12-bar blues fits in; I'll get it..don't need any hints yet. It would help if I could sing. Oh well, the a solo and little lead fills will be easy at least :)

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Well, I found a nice 12 bar blues track and "sang" the above to it; it really wasn't that bad.

 

And it seemed that the 2 verses I have above ended right at the turn around. Like I would sing a bar, and then no vocals on a bar..it worked.

 

For the life of me, I can't get this to "flow" with my playing and (albeit pathetic) attempt at singing.

 

Are the 2 verses above "enough" to fill 12 bars? (no, not the drinking kind :)) ROFL

 

Should I take pencil to staff paper and write it out?

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Well, I found a nice 12 bar blues track and "sang" the above to it; it really wasn't that bad.

 

And it seemed that the 2 verses I have above ended right at the turn around. Like I would sing a bar, and then no vocals on a bar..it worked.

 

For the life of me, I can't get this to "flow" with my playing and (albeit pathetic) attempt at singing.

 

Are the 2 verses above "enough" to fill 12 bars? (no, not the drinking kind :)) ROFL

 

Should I take pencil to staff paper and write it out?

That's between you & your sidemen.

 

I think one thing that you may've learn through this exercise is how many ways there may be to devise accompaniment to any song.

d=halfnote
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  • 4 weeks later...
Sorry I'm late getting back. I played it in the first position (1st and 2nd frets). That allows you to easily throw in a G (third fret first string) during the D7, and a D (third fret second string) during the A and E chords. My example is a simpler eight bar blues. To add more flavor play the next eight bars as D7, D7, A, A, D7, D7, E, E (E chords played as open D chords moved up two frets)(also works fine as bar chords), then go back to beginning. I think the vocal accents make it difficult to make into twelve bars without changing the lyrics. I leave it to you...
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