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#457156 - 02/12/18 08:27 AM [Songwriting] Call Me Biased # 2
Registered: 09/09/17
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Belladonna Offline
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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]
Registered: 11/30/07
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BlueAttitude Offline
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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]
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Belladonna Offline
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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]
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BlueAttitude Offline
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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]
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Mikke - PG Music Offline
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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]
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Belladonna Offline
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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]
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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,
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#457542 - 02/14/18 09:54 AM [Songwriting] Re: Call Me Biased # 2 [Re: Belladonna]
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Belladonna Offline
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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]
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jford Offline
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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]
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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]
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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]
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Belladonna Offline
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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]
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Belladonna Offline
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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]
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Samuel Davis Online   content
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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]
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BlueAttitude Offline
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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]
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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

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#457794 - 02/16/18 05:52 AM [Songwriting] Re: Call Me Biased # 2 [Re: Belladonna]
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Belladonna Offline
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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]
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Belladonna Offline
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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]
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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]
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Belladonna Offline
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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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#457841 - 02/16/18 01:42 PM [Songwriting] Re: Call Me Biased # 2 [Re: Belladonna]
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Turn the Page is another of my favorites and in fact BobH and myself have done this song a number of times.
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#457844 - 02/16/18 02:06 PM [Songwriting] Re: Call Me Biased # 2 [Re: Belladonna]
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Re Whiter Shade Of Pale...whether there's meaning that is missed or whether it is simply an attempt to be obtuse or whether by design one is find his or her own dots to connect what ultimately is to be said is that it made (makes) a ton of money and folks are still writing and talking about it 51 years later. There are millions of lyrics, good, bad and outstanding that will never carry that mantle!
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#457847 - 02/16/18 02:16 PM [Songwriting] Re: Call Me Biased # 2 [Re: Belladonna]
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Belladonna Offline
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Yeah, it did make a lot of money. I wonder if that's a standard of excellence? Is it a good song as long as it makes a lot of money? If that's the case then I guess all of our music on this site sucks! I don't think many of us are making a lot of money. What about decades later or generations later when it's no longer making a lot of money? I'm not making a judgment call, just throwing out questions for consideration. My hat's off to these guys for making a lot of money and to the people who liked the song enough to purchase it. Also, what about the marketing to the public, maybe it played a part?

What about great songs that don't make a lot of money? Today, the competition is sooo fierce and limited and the industry is sooo exclusive that maybe really great songs and lyrics never make it to the public.

But to me personally the bottom line is to try to write understanding lyrics, not that I'm always successful but we should try to excel.

Thanks to all who weigh in and contribute. I think it helps to understand the topic and certainly increases my learning in how others look at things and interpret it.


Edited by Belladonna (02/16/18 02:59 PM)

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#457855 - 02/16/18 03:14 PM [Songwriting] Re: Call Me Biased # 2 [Re: Belladonna]
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Donna,

I don't know if the below is useful reading but it's my take on the lyrics of "White Shade of Pale".

At some of the Pat Pattison seminars I've been to, Pat has mentioned the concept of 'impressionistic lyrics'. This notion has caused me to think a great deal over the years about different possible styles of lyric writing. My thinking has been along the line of the following.

With painting, a very broad classification of styles run from 'realism' through 'impressionistic' and then into 'abstract'.

What music enthusiasts collectively call Classical Music also has the aural equivalent of these styles. There's the 'tonal music' (the painting equivalent of realism) of Bach, Beethoven, Mozart, etc., that developed into the 'Romantic music' (impressionistic) of Schumann, Wagner, Tchaikovsky, Mendelsohnn, etc., that then leads into the 'atonal music' (abstract) of 20th century composing.

The film industry is similar: there are realistic films, impressionistic films and Art House films. Literature also ranges from realism to abstract.

I've come to see that lyrics, like other art forms, can be written using these different techniques. There are lyrics from the equivalent of the realism gallery of art and there are impressionistic lyrics as well as abstract lyrics.

While I only seem to be able to write words in the 'realism' style, with maybe an occasional minor excursion into the impressionistic arena, I admire those who can evoke imagery, thoughts and feelings through using cleverly chosen words and sonic-linking techniques such as rhyme, rhythm, repetition, assonance, consonance, etc.

Have a listen to Jimmie Rodgers singing Bimbombey below.



To my mind, the lyrics to Bimbombey are tending towards the realism end of impressionistic in that they reflect aspects of real life but present these aspects in a non-realistic way. By this I mean that they are like Vincent Van Gogh's paintings where each element in his paintings is indentifiable as 'real' but the painting of the element is not a 'realism' replication of the original.

In Bimbombey... the main rhyming sound is the long 'a' and through the clever use of this sound, in addition to some minor rhymes, a heap of alliteration, and a ton of repetition, the song's composers (David, Peretti, Creatore) create an impressionistic look at the journey of a happy guy on his way to propose to his girlfriend. Every time I listen to this song, I greatly admire the imagination and the craftsmanship from which it grew.

To me, the lyrics of "White Shade of Pale" has elements of impressionism as well as the abstract. When I listen to the first section of words, I hear impressionism in

Quote:
We skipped a light fandango
Turned cartwheels 'cross the floor
I was feeling kinda seasick
The crowd called out for more

because these words could be 'painting' a real-life situation. Following on from these, though, the continuity is disrupted and the lyrics lead into the abstract where the imagery is strong and carries on from the beginning of the lyrics.

Quote:
The room was humming harder
As the ceiling flew away
When we called out for another drink
The waiter brought a tray


This feeling of 'abstract', or 'Art House', stays with me as I journey through the rest of the song. It's one of my favourite pieces of music. For me, the appeal is not just the isolated meaning of words but the imagery that these words create and the musical journey that accompanies them. The descending bass line that features throughout always grabs my attention!

Regards,
Noel
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#457858 - 02/16/18 03:44 PM [Songwriting] Re: Call Me Biased # 2 [Re: Belladonna]
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Janice & Bud Offline
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Registered: 12/05/11
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Donna, I wasn't implying that the fact that it made a lot of money made it a good or a bad song per se...only that 51 years later we are still talking about it. There a thousands of songs that made a lot of money that we've forgotten about. The big sales put Whiter in the limelight; however, the lyric has kept the guessing game going for half a century.

I like Noel's impressionistic take on some music. It's a good analogy, for me, to painting. Sometimes I'll look at an impressionistic painting and think a toddler could've done that. And other times I'll see one that is seemingly as abstract but I see intriguing things in it. I think Whiter does that in song and captures that cultural period -- whether it was drug addled or intentional smile

Bud aka Old Babbling Guy
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#457859 - 02/16/18 03:56 PM [Songwriting] Re: Call Me Biased # 2 [Re: Belladonna]
Registered: 11/19/17
Posts: 34
Loc: uk
duncanwhyte Offline
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Registered: 11/19/17
Posts: 34
Loc: uk
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.

Back in the day, many UK/Brit bands were formed by youngsters disaffected by their upbringing in the decades after ww2. Despite their rebellion, they could only use that which they were given, primarily their education.

whiter shade of pale refers to the miller and his tale. This would be Geoffrey Chaucer and the Canterbury Tales. a set of stories set in medieval times, of which one is told by the Miller. Studying the book was a common part of the school curriculum and often tested in exams.

The vestal virgins were often referred to in classical Latin and Greek lessons taught at schools in those decades. They were a few women who had influence in many ways on Roman society, religion and politics.

So its only a reference to the writers education in those lines of the song. The rest of the lyrics seems capably found and worked into the song.

Most agree that the influence of Bach in the music is obvious. Again I would say the result of piano lessons in the graded system of music education, the associated board.





Edited by duncanwhyte (02/16/18 04:01 PM)
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#457872 - 02/16/18 05:12 PM [Songwriting] Re: Call Me Biased # 2 [Re: Belladonna]
Registered: 09/09/17
Posts: 288
Loc: Virginia
Belladonna Offline
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Registered: 09/09/17
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Loc: Virginia
Bud I think it's great that it's been 50 years and we're still talking about it. I'm interested in the fact that duncanwhyte is saying that it was written by a British guy of whom his references was the education at the time and for some of us we have no reference whatsoever to what they are talking about. So this is quite interesting.

The miller is someone who is telling a story and vestal virgins are women of influence back in the day and a Bach influence on the music. Regardless, it became a popular hit in it's day.

So it's something like he met a girl and was kind of messed up, but he knew she wasn't an influential girl and the miller told him more about her which made her turn a whiter shade of pale. He was leaving anyway, so probably was glad he found out the truth.

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#457875 - 02/16/18 05:17 PM [Songwriting] Re: Call Me Biased # 2 [Re: Belladonna]
Registered: 09/09/17
Posts: 288
Loc: Virginia
Belladonna Offline
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Registered: 09/09/17
Posts: 288
Loc: Virginia
Noel, Maybe there is not one way to judge good lyrics. Maybe there are story telling songs and feeling songs and abstract songs. What is most important, how it connects to a person or to the audience? Does it make people stop and think or cry? Does it make people happy and want to dance? Does the song clarify something in their lives or make them say I know exactly how this person felt?

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#457902 - 02/17/18 01:29 AM [Songwriting] Re: Call Me Biased # 2 [Re: Belladonna]
Registered: 11/19/17
Posts: 34
Loc: uk
duncanwhyte Offline
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Registered: 11/19/17
Posts: 34
Loc: uk
There are actually 4 verses for wsop. But the other two weren't used in the original recording, or possibly edited out. They seem to focus on the sea and mermaids, neptune, and further references to the man/woman thing.

I found a live recording of all 4 on t'internet, but I have to say it changed the song from what i am used to hearing and feeling.
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#458116 - 02/18/18 03:12 PM [Songwriting] Re: Call Me Biased # 2 [Re: Belladonna]
Registered: 09/09/17
Posts: 288
Loc: Virginia
Belladonna Offline
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Registered: 09/09/17
Posts: 288
Loc: Virginia
Hi Duncanwhyte, I will check out the different versions. It does make the song more interesting when you know it's history.

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#458307 - 02/19/18 04:25 PM [Songwriting] Re: Call Me Biased # 2 [Re: Belladonna]
Registered: 09/27/10
Posts: 2549
Loc: Sacramento, California
dcuny Offline
Veteran

Registered: 09/27/10
Posts: 2549
Loc: Sacramento, California
Originally Posted By: Belladonna
Does anyone know what the lyrics are really saying? Do the lyrics add anything to the song?
Does it matter?

No, to the typical listener what matters is the way the song makes them feel.

Quote:
Yeah, it did make a lot of money. I wonder if that's a standard of excellence?

Of excellence in popular music, yes. For a commercial song, that's the measure that matters.

Quote:
Is it a good song as long as it makes a lot of money?

For the corporate insiders who maximize their profits, yes.

Quote:
If that's the case then I guess all of our music on this site sucks!

From the perspective of commercially successful music, yes.

Quote:
What about decades later or generations later when it's no longer making a lot of money? I'm not making a judgment call, just throwing out questions for consideration.

Sometimes it's enough to just pay the bills on time.

Quote:
Also, what about the marketing to the public, maybe it played a part?

Sort of like how Taylor Swift's father purchased a publishing company with investors and promoted her and hired professional songwriters?

Quote:
Thanks to all who weigh in and contribute. I think it helps to understand the topic and certainly increases my learning in how others look at things and interpret it.

Wasn't the topic how people approached writing songs?

Somehow it turned into a complaint against commercial music.
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#458328 - 02/19/18 08:17 PM [Songwriting] Re: Call Me Biased # 2 [Re: Belladonna]
Registered: 09/09/17
Posts: 288
Loc: Virginia
Belladonna Offline
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Registered: 09/09/17
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Loc: Virginia
Dcuny,
No complaints against commercial music. Hat's off to anyone who made it and made some money. The music industry has changed alot from the 60s, it's much more difficult today, a lot more competition and
more of a formula especially in country music.

Since I write lyrics just wanted to get feedback on what others think are important to determine what's a good song. I know that's a very subjective question and may depend on what genre or styles people like. Lyrics may be important to some and not important to others.

I like to post questions as I always learn from how others see things and it helps me to look at things I never considered before.

So thanks for your input.


Edited by Belladonna (02/19/18 08:18 PM)

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#458332 - 02/19/18 09:27 PM [Songwriting] Re: Call Me Biased # 2 [Re: Belladonna]
Registered: 09/27/10
Posts: 2549
Loc: Sacramento, California
dcuny Offline
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Registered: 09/27/10
Posts: 2549
Loc: Sacramento, California
While there are many elements that can be found in a good song, I'll suggest that a song that emotionally connects to a listener is "better" than one that does not.

A typical listener doesn't pay much attention to lyrics. If it sounds happy, it's a happy song, no matter what the lyrics say. (Remember "Born in the USA"?)

That doesn't mean that isn't important to strive for excellence in songwriting. But a song with throw-away lyrics can still move someone, and be much "better" than a technically correct song.

But if a song fails to emotionally move the listener, I'll go on a limb and say - despite the exceptions to the rule - that's not a good song.
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Vocal control, you say. Never heard of it. Is that some kind of ProTools thing?

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#458555 - 02/21/18 09:12 AM [Songwriting] Re: Call Me Biased # 2 [Re: Belladonna]
Registered: 11/19/17
Posts: 34
Loc: uk
duncanwhyte Offline
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Registered: 11/19/17
Posts: 34
Loc: uk
Again, I refer to a once little known song called 'comme d'habitude' sung by Claude François and see what happened to that.
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#458566 - 02/21/18 09:58 AM [Songwriting] Re: Call Me Biased # 2 [Re: Belladonna]
Registered: 09/09/17
Posts: 288
Loc: Virginia
Belladonna Offline
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Registered: 09/09/17
Posts: 288
Loc: Virginia
Yes, wonderful things do happen and it's always encouraging when it does. I heard the WSOP the other day and I had a deeper appreciation for it now that I understand what the song was saying. I know for some people the lyrics don't matter but for others it really does make a difference to understanding and appreciating the song. Also, when you first hear a song the melody and music may draw you in and you really like it. But as you listen to the song over and over again you start to hear the words more and try to understand and appreciate the song at a deeper level.

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#463694 - 03/23/18 05:48 AM [Songwriting] Re: Call Me Biased # 2 [Re: dcuny]
Registered: 09/22/17
Posts: 9
Loc: Wales UK
hitsman Offline
Newbie

Registered: 09/22/17
Posts: 9
Loc: Wales UK
spot on
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#463808 - 03/23/18 05:48 PM [Songwriting] Re: Call Me Biased # 2 [Re: Belladonna]
Registered: 01/14/02
Posts: 7494
Loc: Colorado Springs, CO, USA
rockstar_not Offline
Veteran

Registered: 01/14/02
Posts: 7494
Loc: Colorado Springs, CO, USA
I never tried writing a song in the 60’s as that was my birth decade, but I would say that it’s fundamentally easier to write and publish music now than it was back then. Even commercial success opportunities abound compared to any time in the past as a songwriter. I can and do participate in collaborative songwriting with people from around the planet and it is incredibly fulfilling to do so. This was unimaginable decades ago unless someone was independently wealthy. All industries ‘flatten out’ from an income standpoint as technology enables more and more people, societies and cultures to participate in the market. Supply has increased by orders of magnitude and those of you that recall your economics classes remember what happens to price when supply goes up. People using BIAB benefit immensely from the supply of world class studio musicians performing their songs. If you have done a proper job of arrangement, you can make a world class recording of your song, for nearly free relative to what it used to cost.

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#464095 - 03/25/18 03:10 PM [Songwriting] Re: Call Me Biased # 2 [Re: Belladonna]
Registered: 06/19/17
Posts: 1224
Loc: Victoria, BC
Ember - PG Music Offline
PG Music Staff

Registered: 06/19/17
Posts: 1224
Loc: Victoria, BC
I think I am the odd ball out, although I feel like my music tastes have always been quite eclectic.

I just really enjoy music -- don't we all? -- and am willing to overlooking lyrics not really making "sense". I'm not personally a fan of their sound, but there is a very unique group called CocoRosie who have gotten quite popular with some niche groups. They mix abstract lyrics, sounds and vocals (and occasionally opera). I do love a good opera and perhaps if they had more of an operatic take to their songs more frequently I would listen to them on my own, but the way they choose to sing most of their songs is not my personal cup of tea.

An example of their lyrics from their song Werewolf:

"Crystal ships dripping with ice, diamonds coruscate
In the night fireworks electric bright
And now he's got his own two sons
Tries to hide his tears in a world of fun
But loveless bedrooms filled with doom
Bring silent heartache July to June"

I am not quite sure what it means -- I think I have an idea, but I am not sure. I just get the impression that it's incredibly sad and reflective of a darker time. The song still moves me, even if I am not personally a fan of it, which is an odd place to be in -- appreciating an artist for what they do, but not being a fan of theirs.



Edited by Ember - PG Music (03/25/18 03:11 PM)
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#464126 - 03/25/18 08:34 PM [Songwriting] Re: Call Me Biased # 2 [Re: Belladonna]
Registered: 02/09/18
Posts: 12
Loc: Los Angeles, Cauliflower
ManInTwoSocks Offline
Newbie

Registered: 02/09/18
Posts: 12
Loc: Los Angeles, Cauliflower
Ember, thank you so much for turning us onto CocoRosie. While i have
not listened to them yet, i was so intrigued by the fragment of their Werewolf
lyric that you posted, that i have been reading alot of their lyrics and i like them
quite a bit. I definitely will be giving them a listen.

But now i'd like to focus on what you said about overlooking lyrics that did not makie sense. This is something that used to bother me for decades. I have always loved the lyrics to John Lennon's I Am The Walrus. John never pretended that those lyrics made any sense. He was just having fun playing with the sounds of words. As a matter of fact, John wrote 2 short books that are entirely filled with nothing more than puns and wordplay.

However, it has always bothered me that so many of Bob Dylan's songs, especially from what is considered to be his peak period in the mid-sixties, did not seem to have any meaning,he just seemed to be writing lyrics that sounded good. And since Dylan has almost always been extremely reluctant to explain what his songs meant, it has often been difficult to ascertain if many of his songs meant anything at all, or if he was actually trying to communicate something, but he was just doing a terrible job at communicating his meaning. This is the main reason why so many people, including Joni Mitchell, have considered Dylan to be a literary con artist.

I'll give you an example. My favorite Dylan lyric has always been Desolation Row, and many consider that song to be one of his best. But i never have been able to understand what alot of those lines meant. For example:
"Einstein, disguised as Robin Hood with his memories in a trunk
Passed this way an hour ago with his friend, a jealous monk
Now he looked so immaculately frightful as he bummed a cigarette
And he went off sniffing drainpipes and reciting the alphabet"
Now, i love the way that particular juxtaposition of words sounds, but i haven't the faintest of ideas what that means.

So, i had struggled with this dilemna for several decades, whether or not it was important for song lyrics to mean anything, or if merely being an interesting choice of words is sufficient for a song lyric to be worthwhile.
My confusion about this question was not finally resolved until around a decade or so ago when i read an essay by Edgar Allan Poe called The Poetic Principle. While Edgar Allan Poe is best known for his tales of horror and suspense and his poem The Raven, he also wrote countless essays about various subjects, including literary theory.

In The Poetic Principle, Poe explores the question of whether or not it is necessary or not for a poem to reveal some aspect of what he refers to as Truth, or if merely using a beautiful combination of words would constitute a good poem.

His conclusion was that a beautiful combination of words is merely enough for a poem to be considered a good, or even a great poem.

Reading The Poetic Principle had an enormous effect on my life. I was now finally able to enjoy, without feeling guilty, those lyrics of Dylan's, and some other lyricists, that did not seem to make any sense, but merely sounded interesting. You can read the entire essay The Poetic Principle here:

Poe's The Poetic Principal

I have also pasted below parts of the essay that sum up Poe's main point below:

"It has been assumed, tacitly and avowedly, directly and indirectly, that the ultimate object of all Poetrv is Truth. Every poem, it is said, should inculcate a moral; and by this moral is the poetical merit of the
work to be adjudged......

With as deep a reverence for the True as ever inspired the bosom of man, I would, nevertheless, limit, in some measure, its modes of inculcation......

Thus, although in a very cursory and imperfect manner, I have endeavoured to convey to you my conception of the Poetic Principle. It has been my purpose to suggest that, while this Principle itself is, strictly and simply, the Human Aspiration for Supernal Beauty, the manifestation of the Principle is always found in an elevating excitement of the Soul—quite independent of that passion which is the intoxication of the Heart—or of that Truth which is the satisfaction of the Reason."





Edited by ManInTwoSocks (03/25/18 08:35 PM)
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