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#457156 - 02/12/18 08:27 AM [Songwriting] Call Me Biased # 2
Belladonna Offline
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Registered: 09/09/17
Posts: 250
Loc: Virginia
I feel as a musician and creator of music we all try to work from our heart. Our individual unique expressions and creations. My posts here are merely to encourage deeper thoughts and to hear others take and experience on certain topics. My posts are in no way to be critical of anyone or their efforts.

In my fist bias posts about instrumentals there were a few take aways from that for me.

1. There are great instrumentals that evoke emotions and are memorable and the title will contribute to the overall prosody of the song.

2. Good music can carry bad lyrics, but never the other way around. Good lyrics cannot carry a bad composition of music.

3. There are personal preferences of people who just enjoy instrumental music over more lyrical compositions. My husband was an alto sax player and he prefers really good instrumentals with the saxophone.

Saying that and as a lyricists my personal pet peeve #2 is about bad lyrics and not understanding what someone is trying to communicate in a song. Maybe it is too poetic or too personal feelings orientated. And I am sure I can sometimes be guilty of that also, but I hope to continue to learn to be clearer.

To learn to be a better songwriter we all have to write bad songs first and learn from them. Not every song will be successful and people's opinions and tastes will vary from what they like.

To date I have written about 270 songs and recently I have been trying to approach what I write a little differently as my learning continues.

1. When I come up with an idea or a topic, I first ask why might this be interesting to someone or to the audience? Would a lot of people be able to indentify with this song? If a song is too personal or maybe too unique, the majority of people may not relate to it.

2. Then I plot out my sequence in a logical pattern, what would be the story in the first verse and how will I follow that up in the 2nd verse in a sequential progression.

3. How will these relate back to my chorus or my hook? Everything in your song needs to relate to the main idea of the song.

4. If I have a bridge, how will that relate but be different, show a different perspective or have a conclusion.

5. I then start freewriting about my idea. I also start collecting imagery and metaphors that relate to my topic or story.

6. Then I start the song writing and the rhyme patterns. And the most important part revise and rewrite, maybe several times.

7. Then review my own song and try to be objective. Does it work? Does it say what I wanted in a way that others can relate and understand it? Does it show a lot and not just tell?

Anyway for others who write, I would be interested in what you do and how you approach it. I did listen to Floyd James excellent video on his approach and highly recommend others to watch it.


Edited by Belladonna (02/12/18 08:31 AM)

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#457271 - 02/13/18 03:10 AM [Songwriting] Re: Call Me Biased # 2 [Re: Belladonna]
BlueAttitude Offline
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Registered: 11/30/07
Posts: 1389
Loc: Ontario, Canada
Your approach is the opposite of the way we approach it.

You say you have written 270 songs, but I think you are just writing lyrics? And good ones too, that is not intended as a put-down so please don't misunderstand.

But for me lyrics without music is a poem, not a song.

In our case most of the time I come up with the music first and send it off to my friend, who writes the lyrics and sings. So, I'll send her off a basic music bed that will have verses, chorus, maybe a bridge. As she listens to the music she develops the melody, and then writes the lyrics. The music may change as she is going through her creative process, she may want me to change the song structure, add a verse, bridge, etc.

Which shows there is more than one way to get the job done I guess.
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#457319 - 02/13/18 08:31 AM [Songwriting] Re: Call Me Biased # 2 [Re: Belladonna]
Belladonna Offline
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Posts: 250
Loc: Virginia
Hi Dave,
It's always great if you can find a talented creative person who complements what you do, and one that has the skills you may lack and can take it to the next level.

Of the 270 songs I have written, I have probably put a lot of them to music, I would say at least over half of them. Currently, I am really busy with my day job (I am a CPA) and will be for a couple of months, so I'm just writing lyrics for later when I have more time and will put some of them to music.

I am a much better lyric writer than I am a musician, but I do read music notation, play piano and guitar, and have studied theory. I can come up with a melody on the piano and write it out and I can come up with a chord progression. That's why I got BIAB, so I could do better musical compilations.

I've posted some of my lyrics here and have been very pleased with others compilations of them. They were all different from what I could have come up with.

Yes, you are correct in that lyrics without music is really a poem.

I haven't worked the way you all do it, but I do hope to try that someday soon and see how it goes.

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#457331 - 02/13/18 09:34 AM [Songwriting] Re: Call Me Biased # 2 [Re: Belladonna]
BlueAttitude Offline
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Registered: 11/30/07
Posts: 1389
Loc: Ontario, Canada
Well, over half of 270 put to music ... that's a lot of songs!

Very cool, Donna! smile
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#457332 - 02/13/18 09:35 AM [Songwriting] Re: Call Me Biased # 2 [Re: Belladonna]
Mikke - PG Music Offline
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Registered: 01/25/18
Posts: 22
Loc: British Columbia
Hey All!

These are the kind of subject I enjoy seeing. It truly demonstrates the subjective nature of music and songwriting.

Although no approach is objectively right, there will always be a right way for you.

I would say lyrics and music are interchangeable priorities depending on you and your personal taste/experience.

I would say that, "Good music can carry bad lyrics, but never the other way around. Good lyrics cannot carry a bad composition of music", could be up for debate. I would say something like rap, especially early 90's, was all about the lyrics. The beats were nice, but always secondary.

As always, we will continue to find new and exciting ways to express ourselves with music. Just stick with what works for you, and do the things you love.

I look forward to seeing others take on this in the comments below.
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#457481 - 02/13/18 11:14 PM [Songwriting] Re: Call Me Biased # 2 [Re: Belladonna]
Belladonna Offline
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Registered: 09/09/17
Posts: 250
Loc: Virginia
Thanks Mike for weighing in. There's an old saying beauty is in the eye of the beholder. So I imagine in each genre of music there are different appreciations. Big bands and jazz are primarily instrumental, therefore lyrics don't really apply. I hadn't really considered rap as I've never listened to much of it, but it is primarily lyrics with a rhyming cadence. So no real melody per se and maybe even the lyrics don't have to be that good. Thinking about rap also led me to think about chanting, like Kirtan which is usually in Sanskrit, so most don't even understand the lyrics and the music is not really a melody. So, I'm glad I said my bias and in my case I was primarily talking about country and folk music where to me the lyrics are very important, but a good melody is maybe more so.


Edited by Belladonna (02/13/18 11:15 PM)

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#457486 - 02/13/18 11:38 PM [Songwriting] Re: Call Me Biased # 2 [Re: Belladonna]
Noel96 Offline
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Registered: 10/31/08
Posts: 13188
Loc: Australia
Donna,

The below clip is from Britain's Got Talent 2014. It's two young guys who sing an original rap written by the younger one. It's a really worthwhile listen and gives some idea of just how versatile rap can be.




Then there's Eminem. He is a great study for anyone who likes to play with words...



Eminem's rhymes, his story telling, the way he uses words and how he employs the rap genre to empower his lyrics are all extraordinary. He has a highly developed understanding of how sonic links work with words.

In all of the 20+ weekend seminars of Pat Pattison that I've been to, he always recommends that students study rap so that they can develop lyric strategies that will take their writing to the proverbial 'next level'. Success in the rap genre relies very heavily on exceptional skills with words.

Regards,
Noel
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#457542 - 02/14/18 09:54 AM [Songwriting] Re: Call Me Biased # 2 [Re: Belladonna]
Belladonna Offline
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Registered: 09/09/17
Posts: 250
Loc: Virginia
Wow, thanks Noel. Rap was one genre of sort of avoided because of sometimes bad language and violence. However, I did like one guy who did Christian rap and it was pretty cool. I'll have to look at it more and try to see the expertise in the lyrical prowess.

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#457549 - 02/14/18 10:35 AM [Songwriting] Re: Call Me Biased # 2 [Re: Belladonna]
jford Offline
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Registered: 12/20/00
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Quote:
lyrics without music is a poem, not a song


I don't necessarily agree. I think it is more the intention of the lyricist. Charles Wesley, the brother of John Wesley (who founded the Methodist church) is crediting with writing some 6000 hymns (songs, not poems). He did not write the music; however, most of the hymns were ultimately set to some tune (many times the same tune and other times, the same lyrics to different tunes).

I will agree that if the lyrics never get married up to the music, then yes, it's basically a poem, but again it goes to intent. Lyricists sit down to write songs, not poems. Poets sit down to write poems, not songs. Hopefully the lyrics will ultimately be applied to a melody, but when the words come first, that's what you have; just the words.

And I don't think anyone has ever called the songwriter Bernie Taupin a poet, even though he composed none of the music for Elton John's songs, only the lyrics, and is credited with being an excellent songwriter.

Maybe lyricist is the better term to use.
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#457564 - 02/14/18 12:17 PM [Songwriting] Re: Call Me Biased # 2 [Re: Belladonna]
Noel96 Offline
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Originally Posted By: Belladonna
Wow, thanks Noel. Rap was one genre of sort of avoided because of sometimes bad language and violence. However, I did like one guy who did Christian rap and it was pretty cool. I'll have to look at it more and try to see the expertise in the lyrical prowess.


If you find an artist you like and concentrate on how the sounds of the words flow from line to line, I think you'll find it quite a valuable learning experience. I did.

Regards,
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#457566 - 02/14/18 12:18 PM [Songwriting] Re: Call Me Biased # 2 [Re: jford]
MarioD Offline
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FWIW - my opinion of lyrics vs. poems:

Lyrics are poems that can be easily set to music. Donna's lyrics are a good example. They rhyme and there is a chorus/bridge/hook in them.

A poem cannot be easily set to music. I have a friend who wanted his poems set to music. It was impossible. Although they did rhyme there was no structure for music, i.e. no chorus/bridge/hook in them. I convinced him to do a Christian poem book instead of a Christian CD.

I approve this message. YMMV
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#457582 - 02/14/18 02:54 PM [Songwriting] Re: Call Me Biased # 2 [Re: Belladonna]
Belladonna Offline
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Registered: 09/09/17
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Loc: Virginia
This is the Christian rap video I was talking about. Pretty cool!!
This post helped me develop some appreciation for rap.



Edited by Belladonna (02/14/18 02:57 PM)

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#457584 - 02/14/18 02:56 PM [Songwriting] Re: Call Me Biased # 2 [Re: Belladonna]
Belladonna Offline
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Registered: 09/09/17
Posts: 250
Loc: Virginia
John and Mario thanks for mentioning that intent of the writer matters. Yes, many poets probably do not think about their words being set to music, where a lyricist does. Good points!!


Edited by Belladonna (02/14/18 07:42 PM)

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#457623 - 02/15/18 12:35 AM [Songwriting] Re: Call Me Biased # 2 [Re: Belladonna]
Samuel Davis Offline
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Registered: 08/09/17
Posts: 355
Loc: Florida
I have a couple thoughts on this conversation.

First of all, Good lyrics can be put to bad music (or poorly arranged) if the person doing the music is not skilled in what they are doing, or they don't understand the lyrical idea.

Second, all lyrics can be considered poetry but not all poetry can be considered lyrics. It takes a certain amount of form and structure for poetry to become lyrics to a song.

Lastly, there are many ways to come about writing a song. Some do lyrics first.
Others do music first. For me the lyrics and chord structure seem to come hand in hand with most of my songs. I think they work better that way. I can also set someone else's lyrics to music quite easily if there is good form and structure to the lyrics but I find it harder to set lyrics to preexisting music. (That's not to say that I haven't done it but I just find it much harder.)
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#457637 - 02/15/18 03:32 AM [Songwriting] Re: Call Me Biased # 2 [Re: MarioD]
BlueAttitude Offline
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Registered: 11/30/07
Posts: 1389
Loc: Ontario, Canada
Originally Posted By: MarioD


A poem cannot be easily set to music. I have a friend who wanted his poems set to music. It was impossible. Although they did rhyme there was no structure for music, i.e. no chorus/bridge/hook in them.


Yes, good point and I've been there too. 25 years or so ago I was asked by a poet to put her poems to music, she had heard that I was a musician that wrote music.

Almost no structure to them. Out of a book full of poems there was only one that I could make into a song, and even then I needed to restructure it somewhat. I still have the result on a cassette tape someplace I think.
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#457713 - 02/15/18 12:18 PM [Songwriting] Re: Call Me Biased # 2 [Re: Belladonna]
Janice & Bud Offline
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Yeah, but Bob Dylan and many folk singers would never had existed w/o multiple verse only songs. To me it remains a great way to tell a rich story.

Of course as Janice says, maybe floyd did also, the words have to be “singable.” grin
FWIW

Bud
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#457794 - 02/16/18 05:52 AM [Songwriting] Re: Call Me Biased # 2 [Re: Belladonna]
Belladonna Offline
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Registered: 09/09/17
Posts: 250
Loc: Virginia
To me it also seems that poems are more about feelings sometimes in a more abstract way. Words used are very flowery and descriptive or dark and many times without a plot or story line.

Song lyrics in many cases have a story to tell, a plot, a character, a setting, a conclusion or a moral to the story. Not in all cases, but in many cases, especially in country and folk music. A lot of Bob Dylan's songs were about characters and stories told through songs.

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#457797 - 02/16/18 06:54 AM [Songwriting] Re: Call Me Biased # 2 [Re: Belladonna]
Belladonna Offline
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Registered: 09/09/17
Posts: 250
Loc: Virginia
So here's a popular rock song with interesting lyrics that was a big hit. Does anyone know what the lyrics are really saying? Do the lyrics add anything to the song?
Does it matter? The music was good.

Procol Harum - A Whiter Shade Of Pale Lyrics

We skipped a light fandango
Turned cartwheels 'cross the floor
I was feeling kinda seasick
The crowd called out for more
The room was humming harder
As the ceiling flew away
When we called out for another drink
The waiter brought a tray

And so it was that later
As the miller told his tale
That her face, at first just ghostly
Turned a whiter shade of pale

She said, "There is no reason
And the truth is plain to see"
But I wandered through my playing cards
And would not let her be
One of sixteen vestal virgins
Who were leaving for the coast
And although my eyes were open
They might just as well have been closed

And so it was that later
As the miller told his tale
That her face, at first just ghostly
Turned a whiter shade of pale

And so it was that later
As the miller told his tale

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#457823 - 02/16/18 12:00 PM [Songwriting] Re: Call Me Biased # 2 [Re: Belladonna]
Charlie Fogle Offline
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Registered: 04/07/13
Posts: 4417
Loc: South Carolina
According to Wikipedia, professional interpretations say the song is metaphorically about a sexual relationship.

According to Keith Reid, the principle writer of the lyrics, it was a straightforward, girl-leaves-boy story. He admits to being under the influence of drugs when the lyrical idea was conceived at a party but not when he actually wrote the lyrics. He states the lyrics were based on various books he'd read and been influenced by. There are two other verses to the song that were not included in the original recording because it extended the song for too long a length of time. Wikipedia claims it's rare, but the additional verses were sometimes included in live shows.

I'd never researched it before and had heard for many years the song was composed by Reid during a period when he was confined in a mental hospital.

According again to Wikipedia, the music is derived and influenced by Bach and oddly, "When a man loves a woman" by Percy Sledge.
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#457840 - 02/16/18 01:37 PM [Songwriting] Re: Call Me Biased # 2 [Re: Belladonna]
Belladonna Offline
Apprentice

Registered: 09/09/17
Posts: 250
Loc: Virginia
Thanks Charlie for looking this song up in Wikipedia. I would have never came to this conclusion of the song from the words itself. Who's the miller they are talking about, telling his tale? What is the tale? You lose the listener when they are scratching their heads. Anyway, I find the words a little vague that could have added so much to the song. Maybe many people don't care if they like the song, but as a lyricist I find the communication of the words important.

In contrast, here's a song I love and I think the words speak for themselves. The melody to this song is extraordinary and I can't even imagine this song being an instrumental. It is an example of a perfect marriage between the lyrics and the music. Don't have to consult Wikipedia to understand this song. One of my favorites.

Turn the Page

On a long and lonesome highway
East of Omaha
You can listen to the engine
Moaning out his one-note song
You can think about the woman
Or the girl you knew the night before

But your thoughts will soon be wanderin'
The way they always do
When you're riding sixteen hours
And there's nothin' much to do
And you don't feel much like riding
You just wish the trip was through

Say, here I am
On a road again
There I am
Up on a stage
Here I go
Playin' star again
There I go
Turn the page

Well you walk into a restaurant
Strung out from the road
And you feel the eyes upon you
As you're shakin' off the cold
You pretend it doesn't bother you
But you just want to explode

Most times you can't hear 'em talk
Other times you can
All the same old clichés
"Is that a woman or a man?"
And you always seem outnumbered
You don't dare make a stand

Here I am
On a road again
There I am
Up on a stage
Here I go
Playin' star again
There I go
Turn the page

Out there in the spotlight
You're a million miles away
Every ounce of energy
You try to give away
As the sweat pours out your body
Like the music that you play
(Sax solo)

Later in the evening
As you lie awake in bed
With the echoes from the amplifiers
Ringin' in your head
You smoke the day's last cigarette
Remembering what she said

Ah, here I am
On a road again
There I am
Up on a stage
Here I go
Playin' star again
There I go
Turn the page
Ah, here I am
On a road again
There I am
Up on a stage
Here I go
Playin star again
There I go
There I go



Edited by Belladonna (02/16/18 01:54 PM)

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