Any Song Writers Here? What formulas do you use??

Discussion in 'The Sound Hound Lounge' started by Guitar Slinger6, Dec 27, 2009.

  1. Guitar Slinger6

    Guitar Slinger6 Member

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    I was just curious what formulas you use and what approach you take.
     
  2. johneeeveee

    johneeeveee Member

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    Although it is impossible to stay away from tried and proved structures completely, I try not to use any "formula" as that can lead to things sounding homogenized and formulaic. It's hard thing to qualify, but I try to treat each song as it's own unique entity and follow what works for that particular song.

    It's more of an organic and "feel" thing than a formula for me, but I don't write for the more commercial markets (where formula seems to be a hit of a necessity).

    Good luck - jv
     
  3. guzman

    guzman Member

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    Song writing isn't math or science. There is no such thing as formula or a right way to write songs.
     
  4. Willie Johnson

    Willie Johnson Member

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    I don’t consciously use a formula but I do tend to stick with the type of structure I grew up listening to. Most of my songs include an intro, some kind of a “hook” lick, verses, a chorus and/or a turnaround, a lead break and an outro. Typically, I’ll noodle around with a hook or rhythm part and come up with the first verse and chorus pretty quickly. Then I’ll add the rest. I do think that a song should tell a story, so when I write I am very conscious of that.
     
  5. andybaylor

    andybaylor Supporting Member

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    Rule#1. Gotta hit the chorus in 60 seconds.
     
  6. johneeeveee

    johneeeveee Member

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    I assume you're kidding?
     
  7. andybaylor

    andybaylor Supporting Member

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    Not in popular music. Get out the watch, and see. You'll be suprised.
     
  8. johneeeveee

    johneeeveee Member

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    I'm not surprised at all, but didn't know if you were being tongue in cheek. I've heard A&R guys say the same thing, but I don't really have interest in a lot of the product written specifically for radio and certain demographics... just a different world from the one I work in.

    Writing pop music with certain formulas for specific markets is a unique talent in itself, but doesn't seem to create the type of music I am presently interested in.
     
  9. jaydub69

    jaydub69 Member

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    Yes. Unless you have outstanding playing capabilities and an innate sense of composition, get to the point. It's a new world out there. When surfing Myspace pages I don't want to wade through the mire of self indulgence. Yawn.
    And yes, I am a long time Jazz and jam head.

    No real formulas necessarily for me. Though they tend to be fairly traditional. I am trying to consider structure more and more when coming up with ideas, however.
     
  10. johneeeveee

    johneeeveee Member

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    Great (and arguably two of the best ever) songwriters like Bob Dylan and Leonard Cohen never stuck to those "formulas", right?
     
  11. Guitar Slinger6

    Guitar Slinger6 Member

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    I tend to use Dylan's formula, tis a popular one.
     
  12. Guitar Slinger6

    Guitar Slinger6 Member

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    Thats right, and the song should be around 3:15 seconds. A slow song can run longer but never over 3:45.
     
  13. arthur rotfeld

    arthur rotfeld Member

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    Nothing wrong with formulas (especially flexible ones) if they stimulate creativity. Some artists can start with a white canvas and a hundred tubes of paint, others need one pastel and a still-life set up in front of them.....

    If you have an analytic mind you might want to make a study of your favorite and least favorite songs. Figure out what you want or don't want to do. Experiment.

    I've been writing songs (i.e. music with words), something I rarely did before. Specifically music for kirtans. It basically means that I write hooks, mostly chorus-type things, as the texts are simple mantras, one to four lines long.

    My current MO is to:
    read and think on the text, feeling it's natural rhythms
    Think about what emotional feel I want
    Consider the type of melody or harmony I want to use
    Think about how to play with the rhythm of the text
    Experiment with chord progressions and testing out melodies--trying what "comes along"
    Fine tune the melodies and chords
    Write variations of the melodies, see if a variant is better or can replace an original idea

    In short, I try to balance a creative inspiration with a craftsman-type thinking. I like using "techniques," if they yield good results.
     
    Last edited: Dec 27, 2009
  14. andybaylor

    andybaylor Supporting Member

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    :facepalm Things were different back then.

    And what do you mean Dylan didn't have a "formula"?!?!?

    That cat was and is so show-biz savy, it's crazy!!
     
  15. arthur rotfeld

    arthur rotfeld Member

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    Anyone catch his various performances at Newport shown on PBS last night?
     
  16. Guitar Slinger6

    Guitar Slinger6 Member

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    Very strong approach, I like it! I like the balance between "creative inspiration and craftmanship", very solid proccess.
     
  17. smallbutmighty

    smallbutmighty Member

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    The first question I ask myself with every song I write is: what is the purpose of this song?

    If I intend to pitch the song an independent songwriter, I know that I must follow a certain orthodoxy. If I'm writing it for myself, then I have more flexibility to be self-indulgent.

    That is not to say that writing within a set of restrictions makes one any less creative. In fact, I would argue just the opposite.
     
  18. Cobra

    Cobra Supporting Member

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    Verse
    Chorus
    Verse
    Chorus
    Bridge
    Verse
    Chorus
     
  19. vinney57

    vinney57 Member

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    People (including myself) use the term Bridge incorrectly. The Bridge is the lead-in to the Chorus from the Verse; often just one or two bars but its important and you can hear it most songs if you listen.. The middle section can be called the B Section, Middle 8 (or 12 or 16) or Breakdown or similar. Thus a typical commercial song structure would be:

    Intro
    Verse
    Bridge
    Chorus
    Verse
    Bridge
    Chorus
    Middle 8
    Verse (often modified)
    Double Chorus (often modified)
    Outro

    I've been studying this **** for years and still haven't written anything half-decent. All music has a structure but it doesn't make a song.
     
  20. chucke99

    chucke99 Member

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    Yeah, the bridge is what gets you from the verse to the chorus, and is present every time you run through the "A" section. A lot of times, the Chorus of the song is over the same chords as the Verse, so the bridge is how you break up the melody.

    The "Break" as I call it is that different thing somewhere in the middle of the song. Also, you don't necessarily need a Break. There are plenty of songs that just do a solo over the verse or verse/chorus instead (think "Smells Like Teen Spirit" or just about any other Nirvana song).
     

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