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#444884 - 12/13/17 10:37 AM [Songwriting] Re: Coming up with Songs [Re: Islansoul]
David Snyder Offline
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Registered: 08/29/14
Posts: 3035
Loc: North Carolina
To echo a few other comments here, I think one big rule is you have to listen to a lot of different music. Love it or hate it, I check in with Spotify once in a while and browse stuff in the various categories across all genres to see what is hot. Sometimes I get profoundly depressed and other times I get inspired, and a melodic idea or vibe will pop into my head. smile

One thing I have noticed about music as opposed to other forms of writing is that you can't (or at least I can't) choose to sit down and write a good song. (A bad song maybe, but not a good one.) I can sit down and force myself to write a book (and it is about as fun as driving a nail in your head) but it can be done.

Songs don't work that way for me. I can't try and write them. They just have to come out of the thin blue sky. It is like you are at the mercy of the gods or something. But, listening to other stuff helps, and I also spend a lot of time auditioning BIAB demos because they teach you A LOT about chord progressions and styles that work. That's golden.

Finally, there is the act of observing and taking notes.

Once upon a time, I went for a walk after a concert with one of the most famous singers and band members of the 80s and 90s. We ended up sitting on the hood of a burned out Pinto for 3 hours shooting the breeze, and while we did so a very intoxicated guy in a cowboy hat came up and started to share his life story. This famous singer pulled a cheap K-Mart notepad out of his pocket and a Bic pen and asked the guy to start over--and then wrote down every thing he said--and the talkative drunk guy was more than happy to oblige him. The beginning of this story was that God told him to stop listening to Elvis and to go Alaska and work on the pipeline and listen to the Grateful Dead. The end of the story was that God told him to hitch hike back home across the United States, read more of the Bible, and start listening to Elvis again. The stuff in between was more dramatic than the Grapes of Wrath. When the songwriter was taking notes, I have never seen anybody write faster in my life.

Later, when the band's next album came out, I heard a lot of stories and lines that sounded awfully familiar.

I learned so much from that I can't even begin to say, but I think it is all about careful observation of people, careful listening, and note taking.

Paul McCartney's Penny Lane is about a real barbershop. You can google the roundabout he is talking about and also see the barbershop building I believe. He just wrote down what he saw. It still give me goosebumps.
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#444889 - 12/13/17 10:56 AM [Songwriting] Re: Coming up with Songs [Re: David Snyder]
DaveBrooksMusic Offline
Apprentice

Registered: 08/24/15
Posts: 193
Loc: North Carolina, USA
Hey Mr. Dave;

Very thoughtful stuff. I've never really thought about song writing in this or any other manner because they just pop into my head and won't leave me alone until I write them down. Sometimes the lyrics come first, sometimes the music, but mostly the music comes first either by guitar of piano.

Once I have an idea, a song seems to take on a life of it's own until completed (if there is ever such a thing). I never really know how a song is going to turn out until I'm done. In many cases, they never sound the same way I first heard them in my head, but I tend to like how they morph into something that surprises the heck out of me! Revise, revise, revise...

Please keep up the good work!!!

All the Best,

Dave
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#444965 - 12/13/17 06:04 PM [Songwriting] Re: Coming up with Songs [Re: Islansoul]
edshaw Offline
Apprentice

Registered: 10/09/16
Posts: 271
Loc: Colorado
Some of the great writers of the Nashville heyday
used to associate with one another. Certain places, off the beaten track.
That is what goes on here, in a very real sense.
Let me add, just this week I was learning a new scale form and chord progession. Those who feel scales are boring don't get it that is is not just running up and down the scale pattern that is important. Sure, you have to do it. The pay day is when the notes begin to speak, and the combinations take on a life.


Edited by edshaw (12/13/17 06:09 PM)
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#445123 - 12/14/17 12:28 PM [Songwriting] Re: Coming up with Songs [Re: edshaw]
David Snyder Offline
Veteran

Registered: 08/29/14
Posts: 3035
Loc: North Carolina

Ed,

I have never understood why some people don't see a value in practicing scales in different keys.

To me, that is like a doctor saying "I don't need to learn anything about the sound of a heart beat" or a conductor saying "I don't need to know what those silly little dots mean. I just wave my wand."

Never made sense to me.

smile
_________________________
David Snyder
Audiophile Everything + Studio + Instruments + Fingers
ASCAP, NSAI
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http://www.reverbnation.com./davidpsnyder
https://soundcloud.com/davidsnyderchannel
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#445139 - 12/14/17 02:05 PM [Songwriting] Re: Coming up with Songs [Re: David Snyder]
dcuny Offline
Expert

Registered: 09/27/10
Posts: 1776
Originally Posted By: David Snyder
I have never understood why some people don't see a value in practicing scales in different keys.

As Ed said, scales are a means to an end. If you want to be able to make music, playing scales is essential, but that's not all you need.

Some people are able to bridge that gap themselves, turning the scales into music.

But others could practice scales all day long, but be no closer to creating something musical, because they can't see beyond the notes.

Similarly, one of the key to writing good songs is to write lots of songs.

Most people will get better with practice. But some will continue to churn out one mediocre song after another.

There's a way of thinking musically that some people can grasp innately. For others, it's a struggle and we need all the hints we can get. Fortunately, the end result is often indistinguishable.

Dave talked about inspiration, but that's not something you can rely on. And we all have limited experiences, so that well runs dry some time or another.

Deryk mentioned listening to new music, and you told about the importance of getting inspiration from other people's stories. floydjane told about how he actively listened for some idea to use as his next song's hook.

For what little writing I've done, I've found this method is the most reliable for me:

  • Come up with a hook. This is the "inspiration" part.
  • Write verses that justify the hook. This is the "workmanship" bit.
  • Make sure each verse says something new that moves the song forward.

Whether music comes first or second really depends on you.

Sometimes you might start with a great idea, and end up with a great song. Other times, you'll have a mediocre idea, but manage to bang away at it until it's fairly solid.

Once the song is recorded and done, congratulate yourself and move on to the next song.
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Vocal control, you say. Never heard of it. Is that some kind of ProTools thing?

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#446996 - 12/24/17 05:07 AM [Songwriting] Re: Coming up with Songs [Re: Islansoul]
Will Rockwell Offline
Apprentice

Registered: 02/05/15
Posts: 280
I find the writing of song is like unraveling a sweater. The hard part is to find that first thread, but then when you start pulling it the song Just falls out of the ceiling. That said lately I've been using BB to write songs, just fooling around with chord configurations and instrumentation until I get something that sounds good. Sometimes I'll even transfer to Pro Tools before I have a word of lyrics written. This technique has opened up new styles of songwriting, and made it much easier to get a song started.
Here's an example. I wrote this last month, I wanted to write a song that honored Tom Petty, so it needed to be Southern, and laid-back. Beyond that the only connection to Petty is the mention of Highway 441. The music was created by changing chords around in BB, I was looking for a chord progression that was repeatable and interesting. Once I got all the chords worked out, I drove around in the car listening to it until I got ideas for the words.

Listen to Blue Southern Sky by WillRockwell #np on #SoundCloud
https://soundcloud.com/willrockwell/blue-southern-sky


Edited by Will Rockwell (12/25/17 05:59 AM)
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#447091 - 12/24/17 02:51 PM [Songwriting] Re: Coming up with Songs [Re: Will Rockwell]
Will Rockwell Offline
Apprentice

Registered: 02/05/15
Posts: 280
I found a thread today, we'll see how it goes. I had made a BB track I just called guitar song. Today as I worked on it I remembered something that happened in Home Depot yesterday, a man was staring at the cans of spray paint and clearly baffled. He was holding a can of Robins Egg Blue, and told me he was looking for silver. I helped him find his paint, and today was thinking about how many people disagree just because they see the same things with different eyes. I have an idea to call this song Color Blind. That's the thread, now I'll start pulling.


Edited by Will Rockwell (12/24/17 02:51 PM)
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#447396 - 12/27/17 12:47 AM [Songwriting] Re: Coming up with Songs [Re: Islansoul]
duncanwhyte Offline
Newbie

Registered: 11/19/17
Posts: 14
Loc: uk
I refer to the song 'the first time ever I saw your face'. As a good example of how a song began in an obscure original version and then grew into something quite outstanding. Look it up and see what happened to it. Along the way the composers and performers and the listeners participated in a long process of realisation.

I think composing works well when there is a balance of life. So having a 'musical home', a real home, a technical discipline and practice and time to let creativity come through.
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#447427 - 12/27/17 06:50 AM [Songwriting] Re: Coming up with Songs [Re: duncanwhyte]
Will Rockwell Offline
Apprentice

Registered: 02/05/15
Posts: 280
Originally Posted By: duncanwhyte
I refer to the song 'the first time ever I saw your face'. As a good example of how a song began in an obscure original version and then grew into something quite outstanding. Look it up and see what happened to it. Along the way the composers and performers and the listeners participated in a long process of realisation.

I think composing works well when there is a balance of life. So having a 'musical home', a real home, a technical discipline and practice and time to let creativity come through.


interesting. Here's the original version, from 1957
https://youtu.be/cXYPb0rrwbA
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