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Best advice for songwriting..


ChewisLewis

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I can't give advice as I consider myself a newbie in Songwriting. I am interested and have been studying a book by Robin Frederick, Short Cuts to Hit Songwriting...

 

She is also on Youtube with examples of taking hit songs apart. I'm almost finished with the book and plan to re-read and use many of the techniques but not all of them. There are many more books on Amazon for lyric and songwriting and that's where I have begun. The advice I would give is to: Study up from people in the industry that can give you some real good advice before you begin.

 

 

<--- here's an example of her youtube stuff...

 

 

I am surprised that the GP Songwriting and Composition forum doesn't get a lot of action, but it is another place to try out this threads' topic...good luck and it will be interesting to see what our other guitar players have to say... :cool:

Take care, Larryz
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Mark Mulcahy said in an interview that he never worries about the songs too much because he said he knew he would be writing another song. For years I overly worried about songs I wrote, then last year I took this advice and my songs are much better. I am not saying to do a sloppy job, I am saying dont get too weighed down with the details.

 

Lok

1997 PRS CE24, 1981 Greco MSV 850, 1991 Greco V 900, 2 2006 Dean Inferno Flying Vs, 1987 Gibson Flying V, 2000s Jackson Dinky/Soloist, 1992 Gibson Les Paul Studio,

 

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Mark Mulcahy said in an interview that he never worries about the songs too much because he said he knew he would be writing another song. For years I overly worried about songs I wrote, then last year I took this advice and my songs are much better. I am not saying to do a sloppy job, I am saying dont get too weighed down with the details.

 

Lok

 

Important thing here is, WRITE. Even if it's garbage you never use, WRITE EVERY DAY! Those who wait for inspiration find it very, very rarely. Those who are in the habit of creating find inspiration EVERYWHERE.

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Mark Mulcahy said in an interview that he never worries about the songs too much because he said he knew he would be writing another song. For years I overly worried about songs I wrote, then last year I took this advice and my songs are much better. I am not saying to do a sloppy job, I am saying dont get too weighed down with the details.

 

Lok

 

Important thing here is, WRITE. Even if it's garbage you never use, WRITE EVERY DAY! Those who wait for inspiration find it very, very rarely. Those who are in the habit of creating find inspiration EVERYWHERE.

 

A good friend of mine who was in a management job told me, "If 25% of your decisions aren't mistakes, you're not making enough decisions."

Ask yourself- What Would Ren and Stimpy Do?

 

~ Caevan James-Michael Miller-O'Shite ~

_ ___ _ Leprechaun, Esquire _ ___ _

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Write lyrics first, then set them to music. It's much easier that way.

 

Ehhhh, not always. Yeah, sometimes I get some words that I manage to put together and then search mentally for a melody to fit them, but often I come up with the music first. Gives me a pattern to fit lyrics to. There were a few times they came to me simultaneously. Of course, not being a professional songwriter, this is neither here nor there.

 

I guess the best I can come up with is to not make the lyrics too cryptic, or use language that has limited understanding. For example, Ricky Lee Jones' early work had lyrics that contained slang terms that had little to no meaning outside of the people she knew and the "HOOD" she came from. I often found myself wondering what the hell she was talking about. The music, too, might work better if it's tricky enough to be different, but not too tricky to commit to someone's memory.

 

Whitefang

I started out with NOTHING...and I still have most of it left!
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it's harder to cram words to melodies, usually, than vice versa... that's what I was saying. I usually work the other way, and it's hard. A few times they've come simultaneously, and that's easiest.

 

You have to remember those scenes in "Don't Look Back," though, with Dylan writing lyrics on a typewriter with no guitar in sight. From tons of stuff I've read the most prolific people amass lyric ideas by the notebook full and then go through them and put them to music.

 

Everyone should check out the "Mermaid Avenue" records, where Billy Bragg and Wilco were given Woody Guthries' notebooks of lost lyrics by his daughter to set to music. Absolutely magical stuff resulted, in my opinion.

 

Also, the New York Times had a songwriter blog with various songwriters taking turns handling it for a few days.

 

http://opinionator.blogs.nytimes.com/category/measure-for-measure/

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You have to remember those scenes in "Don't Look Back," though, with Dylan writing lyrics on a typewriter with no guitar in sight. From tons of stuff I've read the most prolific people amass lyric ideas by the notebook full and then go through them and put them to music.

 

True, that p90. But for all we know, Dylan might've already HAD the music in his head!

 

But I'm NOT saying you're wrong, or that I'M right. I do think though that Hugo pretty well summed it up.

Whitefang

I started out with NOTHING...and I still have most of it left!
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I must admit that I know nothing about songwriting. I'm a guitarist, not a songwriter.

 

But I do know a little bit about the poetic process. Wm. Wordsworth described writing poetry as "the spontaneous overflow of emotion recollected in tranquility". Although I hate Wordsworth's poetry, I do like that description of the process. Based on that, I've gotta' hang w/P-90 on this one. I think that it's logical that in most instances, the music is put to the words, rather than the words to the music.

If you play cool, you are cool.
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In thinking back to all the songs I "made up"( I really wouldn't call it "writing"), I can't say for sure WHICH came first in most of them. It seems to me that the music came first in a lot of them, but I don't know the actual ratio. I suppose there's no "in stone" rule on this. One might work better for one guy, the other way might work out better for the next guy. It may help to know how songwriting teams worked it out. Did Elton John come up with the music, and Bernie Taupin fit lyrics to it? Or was it the other way around. How about George and Ira Gershwin? Maybe one duo used one method, the next duo the other. Maybe they all used BOTH on occaision. Either method seems to bring it's own particular limitations, however.

 

I'd say, whatever works best for the particular songwriter.

Whitefang

I started out with NOTHING...and I still have most of it left!
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Well I`m going to throw in here-there is no `best` advice that`s going to come from someone who doesn`t know you, how your mind works and how you best express yourself.

Generally speaking, there`s a difference between writing great songs, and writing hit songs. One of those follows a formula. Without getting into the endless `well to my taste it sucks` debate, Mumford and Sons, or whatever that group is called, did not write hit songs. Adele didn`t really write hit songs (I`m assuming for argument she at least cowrote them). Their songs became hits. How you approach that is your call.

Best advice I`ve seen so far, is that songwriters are writers. Many great musicians can`t write songs, for a good reason. It`s not the same skill. Writers practice writing, one important thing is to keep a journal that you can get to when you have an idea. Don`t edit anything, write whatever you think and leave it. Later if something looks promising you can come back to it. Two main approaches to lyrics or any kind of writing that you intend to publish is, keep it simple and direct, or make it layered, deep and meaningful and edit the hell out of it. Personally I edit-a lot. I`m not satisfied until I`m sure every word is something I would look at five years from now and still say, yeah that`s what I mean to say-because when you publish that is just what happens.

I would also suggest-my opinion of course-if you`re serious about it that you don`t limit yourself to songs. Try writing an article, read a book and review it, write about a place you visited. All of these will help you find your `voice` in print

Hope that helps.

 

FYI-re: Whitefang`s question-Bernie Taupin wrote lyrics-according to EJ with no music whatsoever-and it was his job to write the music that fit them.

Same old surprises, brand new cliches-

 

Skipsounds on Soundclick:

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

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The best advice on songwriting is; write. Write every day, even all you write is "I will write today" 100 times. Get in the habit of writing, because the more you write, the better you get at writing.

Once you've got that part of it together, start going through and culling out what you like and what you don't. Be ruthless, but not hasty. That is, don't throw anything away until you're sure it can't be salvaged somehow, but when you do decide that, chuck it out and don't look back.

Always remember that you�re unique. Just like everyone else.

 

 

 

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Good advice Skip. Maybe the best yet. I would only add one thing--in relation to songwriting--is to try and write poerty. Doesn't have to be on the level of Sandburg or Whitman ( for songs, it might be better if it WASN'T), but to try and play with different meters.

 

And thanks for the Elton-Bernie info.

Whitefang

I started out with NOTHING...and I still have most of it left!
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listen to music, read a book, observe your surroundings, tell a joke and live life. inspiration is everywhere, it may be something someone says or a phrase or a rant you have when angry.

as for the music part, i find ideas everywhere, if i am listening to the turn signal or a clock i hear a beat that i will either hand drum over or hum a melody.

maybe it is just me but i don't struggle with writing. i don't stress because i don't limit my ideas.

i may write a goofy song, a country ditty or a metal song. what is going to be is easier if you relax and have some fun.

 

most of my stuff is instrumental just because i enjoy finding musical magic in riffs or chord progressions. i am a guitar guy who is always looking to learn something by taking things apart or finding different ways to deliver a chord change.

if i grab an acoustic i will write differently, the tone of different guitars will make certain things stand out.

 

i am very lucky because in a week i will be heading into the city to do an all night recording session of one of my songs with my oldest son Brett at the school studio where he is studying recording arts. he had to produce a song where he is at the board at least 75% of the time, so recording himself was not an option. the good boy asked his pop if he wanted to pull an allnighter and do a song. hell yes!

 

the song i chose was written on acoustic at my buddies man cave and came totally out of the blue. don't know why i chose the chord progression but the lyrics were inspired by a scene in The Walking Dead. we were just hanging out and doing what we always do ( drink shitloads of coffee and laugh our asses off while noodling) and bam!! i was delivered a seed.

though Chris didn't write the song, just being there having fun and messing about created the inspiration.

 

the freaky part is I will be attempting to do the vocals. i don't consider myself a vocalist but the only one way to do this is let the song in me out, so i am forced to do the vocals. it would take to long for someone to get the feel of this song through my directions.

 

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Good advice Skip. Maybe the best yet. I would only add one thing--in relation to songwriting--is to try and write poerty. Doesn't have to be on the level of Sandburg or Whitman ( for songs, it might be better if it WASN'T), but to try and play with different meters.

 

And thanks for the Elton-Bernie info.

Whitefang

 

You`re quite welcome. I was writing poetry and playing music, separately, with no intention of writing songs. They ended up colliding anyway. I always liked meter, even when people were telling me it was passe, I stuck with it.

Same old surprises, brand new cliches-

 

Skipsounds on Soundclick:

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

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most of my stuff is instrumental just because i enjoy finding musical magic in riffs or chord progressions. i am a guitar guy who is always looking to learn something by taking things apart or finding different ways to deliver a chord change.

 

+1. Me too, Guit. I am obsessed with chord voicings, voice leading and moving bass lines. One of my favorite sayings (I thunk this up myself) is "If you want to change the harmony move the chord." Re-voicing a chord somewhere else will often have very interesting effects on he harmony. :wave:

If you play cool, you are cool.
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I always liked meter, even when people were telling me it was passe, I stuck with it.

 

Well, meter is important in songwriting. Gives the lyric rhythm. And, of course, MUSIC has rhythm. Like beans and cornbread, they go "hand in hand". ;)

Whitefang

I started out with NOTHING...and I still have most of it left!
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Well the way things are now, you can read the instructions for a coffee maker and if it has a good beat, people will dance to it. There`s tons of good examples of songs where someone is basically talking over the music, most recently Macklemore`s `Same Love` comes to mind. But as a lyric writer it`s essential to be able to say something meaningful within a beat structure. Whether one does that for a particular song is optional.

Same old surprises, brand new cliches-

 

Skipsounds on Soundclick:

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

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most of my stuff is instrumental just because i enjoy finding musical magic in riffs or chord progressions. i am a guitar guy who is always looking to learn something by taking things apart or finding different ways to deliver a chord change.

 

+1. Me too, Guit. I am obsessed with chord voicings, voice leading and moving bass lines. One of my favorite sayings (I thunk this up myself) is "If you want to change the harmony move the chord." Re-voicing a chord somewhere else will often have very interesting effects on he harmony. :wave:

 

You are so right!

i rarely play a normal inversion of a chord when i write. and i really dig it when the third of a chord is emphasized, and this is coming from someone who likes some gain on hand. if i am at an acoustic jam with several other players i relieve the boredom by playing different inversions that don't mess with the song but allow me to add something other than another guy playing the same 1st position chord.

i would love to be able to rip some killer jazz progressions but alas i am a rocker. so much to learn.

an instrumental ( so far ) i have been working on started as my explaining to my bass player how to liven up a boring progression like Am C D C that i had played in a fellow guitarists song.

i pedaled the A string while playing 2 note shapes on the d and g string..end result i ended up writing a new riff. which was tasty enough to not need any weedley deedley on top.

 

 

 

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Well the way things are now, you can read the instructions for a coffee maker and if it has a good beat, people will dance to it.

 

You have no idea how tempted I am to try this... :D :D :D

 

That would need a sound clip haha :D

 

I was actually a somewhat successful indie electronica producer for a while back in the mid 2000's. I'm pretty sure I could give you a pretty decent club groove for this soliloquy... :D

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I racked my brain and came to a conclusion. Most of the songs I "wrote" were "music first" creations. One I can think of was "music AND lyric" together. Most of them were in a way. The music would come to my head with gibberish as lyrics (hard to explain). Lyrics would be tweaked and worked over until they made sense. Actually, that one I mentioned was really the CHORUS to the song, and the rest had to be formed around IT. Unfortunately, these songs are all in my head since I can't write, and have really nothing to record them on. For safety's sake, I wrote all the lyrics and filed them on my PC. Sadly, some of my favorites were just jotted down on small pieces of paper that got lost when I moved.

 

Whether or not this way or some other way is best is a moot point. Whatever works for the songwriter is probably what counts. I WOULD reiterate that a song with lyrics that many other people can relate to, or at least easily comprehend, would be advisable. If it's instrumental, it needn't be too complex. But then again, there ARE people who get into that.

Whitefang

I started out with NOTHING...and I still have most of it left!
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I think a recording device is essential over those little slips of paper. That's because I forget tomorrow what I wrote today just about every time something pops up. The paper is handy but something gets lost in the translation when I'm looking at print instead of hearing the beat, rhythm and melody, that I came up with that accompanies the lyrics and chords.

 

My wife mentioned to my daughter that I was reading a book on songwriting and low and behold I got a little hand held recorder for Christmas. I plan to use it while driving around (as ideas come to me while "I'm out on the road again"). I plan to use my looper to capture ideas at home and have pulled it out of the closet and put it in-line. It can hold many hours of new material. "I'm getting ready ready ready to rock and roll!" now if I can just hit the record button! LOL.

Take care, Larryz
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