Jump to content


Please note: You can easily log in to MPN using your Facebook account!

Is it unusual for you to recompose a song?


LiveMusic

Recommended Posts

I realize I'm pretty new to songwriting (little over a year) and so, maybe the natural growth in expertise (and I have a long wat to go) takes care of this... or maybe it doesn't. That's the question. Does it? Do you forever find yourself TOTALLY recomposing some songs?

 

There is a song I wrote about my dad, who was a farmer. And the song has a sad flavor to it. The perils of dryland (non-irrigated) farming. And I have been playing this song for MONTHS, satisfied with my composition. Almost satisfied, but not quite. It kept bugging me that it didn't quite generate what I wanted. I wrote it on guitar, converted and augmented it on piano. That's how I've been playing it, on my keyboard. With bass line and drum track and accompaniment. I'd sometimes play my guitar along with it. But it still wasn't quite right.

 

And now, I am FIRED UP. I got it. I am HAPPY with this!

 

I could "hear" an acoustic guitar-based song. A rhythmic, strumming guitar being the driving force behind it. Kind of a sad folk song. A Dylanish or Mellencampish sound to it. I changed from key of Am to Em and in no time, I had it. Now, I have the sound I want.

 

And among the 30 or so finished songs I have, there are several I have done this to. Including my first. I also played that song a certain way for MONTHS. Then, I _totally_ rewrote that one. No similarity to the first version.

 

Just wondering if you think this is unusual. I read about some writers, who say that once a song is written, they don't go back. It's done forever. Others claim some, they sweat out for years.

> > > [ Live! ] < < <

Link to comment
Share on other sites



  • Replies 13
  • Created
  • Last Reply

I think I am one of those people that, even after a song is released I`ll be going, `damn, I wish I had taken out that extra harmony on the third chorus...`

Maybe it`s the writer in me, but I think that songs are best written, left to set for a little bit, then listened to again with a critical eye, to get a bit of distance from the process. If you`re still happy, it`s done. The real polish comes out in the rewrite.

Link to comment
Share on other sites

That is definetely not something unique to you, LiveMusic. What I've learned is that you only write the song ONCE. What you CAN do after that, however, is re-arrange it. This happens to me a lot, but I've learned that a well written piece usually holds up well to re-interpretation or re-arranging.

 

FWIW, Duke Ellington often preffered to hear his compositions re-arranged by other musicians, rather than hearing someone do a faithful reading of the original arrangement. I believe Sting also has a similar prefference.

If you've ever heard the Beatles Anthology series, you'll learn that they too, 're-wrote' their songs, often with the officially released version sounding far different from the original concept.

So don't feel bad at all. Rather, take pride in the fact that you've got a well written piece there. Heck, when your box set comes out, they might put your original demo on there as a "rare and unreleased" track!

Link to comment
Share on other sites

I forget who said it - might have even been Dylan but - "a song is never finsished- they're evolving all the time" is a common sentiment in the songwriting community.

 

I find that Im occasionally re-recording/arranging some of my older stuff to capitalize on improved recording gear and technique and the fact that my singing has improved a bit. Usually a few word changes, phrasing subtleties and the like occur in the process.

 

Once I re-wrote all the music for a set of lyrics I liked and had previoously recorded.

A Completely different song emerged.

Check out some tunes here:

http://www.garageband.com/artist/KenFava

Link to comment
Share on other sites

#1. As none of my songs have never(and might never) been published, they're ALL open to tinkering. Some songs I've come up with have later been scrapped for parts. Some lines wind up in one tune, a couple of it's chords in another. Do it all the time.

 

#2. Watched about ten minutes of some public TV show about the BeeGees, and they were discussing their songwriting technique. One of them wrote a song, brought it to the others for arranging, and wound up some of the chords were changed, moved, or dumped. Lyrics were given the same treatment. I'm not a BeeGees fan, but found it interesting all the same.

 

#3. Seems to me that if your song represents what you want to say, and there's a good chance it will go out there for others to hear it, you'd want it to say exactly what you mean. Reshaping it until you're really satisfied isn't uncommon.

 

Whitefang

I started out with NOTHING...and I still have most of it left!
Link to comment
Share on other sites

If the song doesn't feel just right, then I will tweak and recompose. Sometimes, what seems brilliant at inception...falls short after you get some distance from it.

 

Some of my best work has been from rewrites.

Jeffrey Altergott

"Look at you, you like to fly...so dangerously high."

Link to comment
Share on other sites

At what point do you feel you have stopped "composing" and begin "re-composing?"

 

"Writing is re-writing." - a popular catchphrase among fiction writers.

 

Hemingway once said to George Plimpton in an interview that he rewrote the ending to "A Farewell To Arms" 39 times before calling it finished. Plimpton said, "Why so many rewrites?" Hemingway replied: "I wanted to get the words right."

 

"Writing is an adventure. To begin with, it is a toy and an amusement. Then it becomes a mistress, then it becomes a master, then it becomes a tyrant. The last phase is that just as you are about to be reconciled to your servitude, you kill the monster and fling him to the public." - Winston Churchill

Jim Bordner

Gravity Music

"Tunes so heavy, there

oughta be a law."

Link to comment
Share on other sites

My old guitar player went down to the Burning Man festival in Nevada, took some acid, met a girl, married her the next day, came home and quit the band. Since then, my band has totally rewritten so many of our old songs. Partly to keep him out of the picture and partly because we just never questioned if the songs could be better.

 

As it turns out, they could have been better. And now they are!

 

I find that when I bring out an old song of mine for the band to work on, it turns into something totally different. I like to rewrite stuff. The cutting room floor can be the best source of new song ideas.

Link to comment
Share on other sites

Lots of people rewrite songs later, it's not unusual at all.

 

I usually do get to a point with a song where I know it's "done." And I'm usually pretty happy with it at that point. If I'm not at that point, though, anything goes. I could cannibalize one partially completed song from another, or completely rewrite something, whatever it takes. Usually this all happens way before I actually think I've completed the song, though.

Link to comment
Share on other sites

Originally posted by skip:

I think I am one of those people that, even after a song is released I`ll be going, `damn, I wish I had taken out that extra harmony on the third chorus...`

Maybe it`s the writer in me, but I think that songs are best written, left to set for a little bit, then listened to again with a critical eye, to get a bit of distance from the process. If you`re still happy, it`s done. The real polish comes out in the rewrite.

I totally agree Skip. I doubt if anyone is ever 100% satisfied with any piece of work they do. Its like a painter who keeps going back and adding little details here and there. Sometimes its for the best but sometimes its overkill. Leaving it for a while, taking a break, and then coming back to it is often the best method.

 

John Scotsman

Link to comment
Share on other sites

  • 3 weeks later...

I did a lot of writing in the mid seventies as my first band and marriage were breaking up. Twenty years later, I was sitting alone in my living room playing one of them, switched to another and realized that they fit together. They have two very different tempos that must have some kind of mathematical relationship. Anyway, the key is related and the ideas are, too. The band really took to it and it's become one of my favorites.

 

Now, should I break them back up? The songs, not the band or marriage.

 

"He not busy being born

Is busy dyin' " - Dylan

He not busy being born

Is busy dyin'.

 

...Bob Dylan

Link to comment
Share on other sites

  • 2 weeks later...

I'd pay attention to your gut -- also ask some friends who you can trust to give you their gut reaction. A lot of times, the problem isn't that something is "missing" from the song, it's that you've already got too much in it (too many verses, words, instrumental breaks, etc.).

 

If you "complete" a song and something about it still bugs you, it may just not be a good song and you're best off leaving it alone and moving onto something else. Weeks or months later, the final piece of the puzzle may pop in your head, or maybe not.

 

It's important to consider that the new song that you're not writing because you're still messing around with an old one could actually be the song you're looking for.

 

Cheers

 

Doug Watts

Link to comment
Share on other sites

Archived

This topic is now archived and is closed to further replies.

×
×
  • Create New...