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Killing it softly with revisions

Hugo H

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Here's the deal: I've got a song that's gone dead. It's lost it's heart, if not it's very soul.


How'd it happen? Well, it started as a fairly good verse, then a chorus joined up and things looked good. So after getting the verses going I played it for someone. They said "I think it needs a little more drama. Maybe a bridge, lifting into that second chorus?" Ok, it was a bit short anyway, as most of my stuff tends to be. Plus I valued this person's opinion. So I gave it a whirl and after some luck a bridge was born and moved into the song.


Great! I liked it. And I played it for someone else. And they said "You know, those lyrics in the third verse? Seems like a recap of the bridge's thought." Well, ok, it sort of was a recap but what to do? Ends up that I modified the third verse and thought it was ok now.


You can see where this is leading, right? After getting the opinions of several folks I've ended up with a song created by committee. And it sounds like a commercially-viable song... as a filler track on an album. It's just got no ooomph, no impact. No soul.


So at what point do you say "Hey, that's a nice opinion" and walk away?

Kawai GS-40 grand & other keys
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Good question, Hugo.


There does seem to be that point we cross between being fresh and different to being commercially bland and more widely popular. If the water's too hot or too cold, not many people want it. Make it tepid and you're a hit. :rolleyes:


I'm still trying to figure this one out myself.


From what I've read -- and I've done a lot of reading on songwriting lately -- while you're still learning to craft those commercial hits, it's important to get feedback on your work. That's why a couple of sources suggested joining a local writers association, since that's one of the things they can help you with.


Still, at the end of the day if you're the sole songwriter (not collaborating) it's up to you to decide on the changes. Collaborating, by the way, with an experienced songwriter was another suggestion for learning how to do this stuff well.


So, I don't have a straight answer for you. Maybe someone else does.


You could always try going back to your original verse/chorus short song version, turn up the tempo and set it in a punk style. Just saying. ;)

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Ric, I've thought about this for a while now. The local songwriter's association seems like a good idea, for those in the right place. For me, it'd be great if I had an experienced collaborator, but the only two available are into styles I'm not: heavy metal for one and bluegrass for the other. In this case, it's just straight mainstream pap, er, pop. (I'm not anti-pop; there's just too little that ends up being memorable.)


There's no doubt that the current "final" version is more commercial, but there's also no doubt that the original could be tweaked to be better but in different ways. I think my first mistake was including a vocal in the bridge. I should've just left it wide open for a heart-rending memorable solo with an incredible hook ... but I couldn't come up with one :D


Of course, there's a problem with doing it different now: the folks who freely gave advice seem to each like "their" version the best! If it's not one thing it's another :rolleyes:


So for the moment I'm tossing this one in a drawer. It's not like anyone's pounding on my door demanding hits. The luxury of undiscovered talent, I suppose. Hopefully, I've learned something by all this and can sometimes say "Hey, that idea is really good -- so good, I think I'll use it in my NEXT song!"

Kawai GS-40 grand & other keys
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