Discussion in 'The Sound Hound Lounge' started by Guitar Slinger6, Dec 27, 2009.
I was just curious what formulas you use and what approach you take.
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
Song writing isn't math or science. There is no such thing as formula or a right way to write songs.
I dont 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, Ill noodle around with a hook or rhythm part and come up with the first verse and chorus pretty quickly. Then Ill add the rest. I do think that a song should tell a story, so when I write I am very conscious of that.
Rule#1. Gotta hit the chorus in 60 seconds.
I assume you're kidding?
Not in popular music. Get out the watch, and see. You'll be suprised.
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.
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.
Great (and arguably two of the best ever) songwriters like Bob Dylan and Leonard Cohen never stuck to those "formulas", right?
I tend to use Dylan's formula, tis a popular one.
Thats right, and the song should be around 3:15 seconds. A slow song can run longer but never over 3:45.
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.
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!!
Anyone catch his various performances at Newport shown on PBS last night?
Very strong approach, I like it! I like the balance between "creative inspiration and craftmanship", very solid proccess.
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.
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:
Verse (often modified)
Double Chorus (often modified)
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.
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).