POWER POP Songwriting suggestions

Discussion in 'Playing and Technique' started by mrdavek, Jul 19, 2006.


  1. mrdavek

    mrdavek Member

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    I am wondering if anyone has any tips or sugestions on how to become a better songwriter on guitar.

    I am trying to write better originals in a "power pop" style (Cheap Trick, Butch Walker, Jellyfish, and the Beatles).

    Does anyone have any tips, tricks or formulas to write in the style of these artists? If you have come across any lessons or DVDs as well I would be very interested.

    I know this is a very general question, but I am hopeful that someone can give some sugestions.

    I would also be interested in any bands or artists you would recomend checking out that are in this style

    Thanks

    D
     
  2. Lyle Caldwell

    Lyle Caldwell Member

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    First, forget formulas. They will only let you sound like The Archies.

    Second, how well do you know the Beatles? Almost everything you need can be found right there. You have to get to the point where you *recognize* what you're hearing, rather than just remembering the chord names you've read, and then to the point where you hear adventurous changes in your head and then know where to find them on the guitar.
     
  3. mrdavek

    mrdavek Member

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    Lyle:

    Certainly don't want to sound like the Archies (lol).

    I guess I am looking for some advice on songwriting in this type of style moreso than a "connect the dots" approach.

    I have played OTHER peoples music in this type of style for 14 years....I am looking to shorten the learnining curve on dedicating my energies to writing originals in the style of these artist.

    For example : The Beatles made heavy uses of Dominant 7th chords and Major to Minor chord transitions in there songs,

    Any advice on what helped you become a song writing guitarist?
     
  4. Lyle Caldwell

    Lyle Caldwell Member

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    In my case it was four years of studying music theory and composition at college.

    I would actually suggest that you not listen to power pop for a bit. Go get a big book of Cole Porter songs and look at how he did harmony and melody.

    Then look into Jazz and subdominant substitutions and how to modulate keys in many, many different ways (just make sure you don't forget how effective a sudden unprepared "Beach Boys" modulation can be).

    Do that for about 6 months and then re-approach the Beatles (and learn Pet Sounds). It will all click.

    But there's no "trick" to it.
     
  5. frankthomson

    frankthomson Member

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    [uh oh...i feel the flames already]

    music has nothing to do with the music industry.

    that being said, write great heart-felt words and tell a story.

    the music is the last thing you need.

    after you have a complete song written, then pick up the guitar and just sing it in whatever genre you like....or just play your favorite (cheap trick, bon jovi, etc) chords/song and sing your words in your own melody over it. That's the way it's done. Just ask nickleback, or lenny kravitz, or..........

    it's really, really, that simple.:D
     
  6. Caretaker

    Caretaker Supporting Member

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    I agree with getting away from listening to the type of music you are trying to write. You need to have a fresh mind. you need catchy, memorable tunes. the lyrics can come later.
     
  7. Caretaker

    Caretaker Supporting Member

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    As far as other artists, my favs are Adam Schmitt, Matthew sweet, Cheap Trick, Replacements, sweet, Big Star, etc.
     
  8. mrdavek

    mrdavek Member

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    The Sweet, Replacements, and Mathew Sweet are some other on my favorites.

    Check out the Replacements "Alex Chilton" GREAT song!
     
  9. seafoamer

    seafoamer Member

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    write, write, write, write, write!

    keep on writing & let your own flair/style come through.
     
  10. TwinandTwang

    TwinandTwang Member

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    Don't forget the harmony.
     
  11. BBQLS1

    BBQLS1 Member

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    How to write songs on guitar by Ricky Rooksby. You will probably find it a bit inspiring.
     
  12. gennation

    gennation Member

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    Also, do what many of them do...write a song based on a song they want to sound like.

    They all do it. It'll get you something that pin points your target, you can call it your own as it's only a genre if it isn't verbatim.

    If you're looking for a trick...that's the oldest trick in the book. And, it's still used today as much as it always has been.

    Some of the greatest (popular) songs/writers do it...get a book regarding the writing teams that Motwn, RCA, Columbia, etc, etc...have/had. You'll see that it's in their interest to recreate the fire without being too concern about turning the world upside down with something new/fresh.

    That's the business part of things.
     
  13. dave s

    dave s Member

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    Saw an interview with Lionel Ritchie several years ago. He stated that the way he wrote songs was to start the 'hook' first, then figured out how to integrate the correct song elements around hook to produce a hit record.

    Like others have stated, don't forget about melody and harmonies. IMO, these twthe o components that equal 'hook' in most pop songs.

    And I can attest, writing pop-rock songs is a LOT harder than I ever expected. What I discovered through my writing and recording is that our ears and brains are very conditioned to formula driven music that have hooks, transitions and pieces/parts in the right places at the right time. When those elements aren't there or are not in the right place at the right time, it stands out like a sore thumb. That, my friend, is the dilemma.

    dave
     
  14. rmconner80

    rmconner80 Cantankerous Luddite Silver Supporting Member

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    lyrics and melody is where it is at.

    writing the "music" (guitar, bass) to catchy songs is really easy. IN pop music, copyright and publishing applies to lyrics and melody, in 95% of all cases. That's where the money is too. NOT in those uber cool guitar and drum parts. There are occasional exceptions when a piece of performed music contributes signifcantly to the hook or spirt of the song, such as the riff in Satisfaction. Generally this is not the case. Most of those guitar parts are supplied or completely rewritten assembly line style by producers anyway, to the point that the players and "authors" of those parts are interchangeable and meaningless. At least that's how it works today. I'm sure on a guitar forum I'll get dissent, but do some research into song copyright and you'll see what I mean. It's defined as lyrics and melody, and for a reason.

    The only way to get good at songwriting (lyrics, not guitar and drum parts) is to have a one in ten thousand natural creative talent and/or write and write and write and write. Once you've written and played out tons and tons of songs, fallen on your face publically time and time again, then you'll start getting the hang of what works and what doesn't. In short, there is no easy answer.
     
  15. Tuberattler

    Tuberattler Member

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    I'm a songwriter more than a guitar player and I've done both since I was a youngster although I've never did anything professional with it. I like the songs I write and others that hear 'em like 'em also..or so they say..

    Here's a couple of different ways I've found that work for me.

    Try this, get a good strong chord progression going, something that is very interesting/clever but still simple enough to sing/hum a meldody over it. Then get the tempo that will work for a good cadance. Now pick your subject for the song. I've found a bit of daydreaming and listening to the chord progression will give you a picture of what will work. Now with a pen/paper & guitar at hand go to work by playing and writing your words as you go. After a while you'll have it started then come up with a sensible bridge/ chorus and arange it then refine it but not too much as your original thought process is usually fairly good.

    Another way is to take lyrics you've already written and find a couple of different rhythms that will allow the words to flow in a pattern that makes sense, now start in a key that's comfortable for you and start the process of filling in a Chord progression adding chorus and bridge later as you go.

    Now comes where the rubber meets the road take your finished song, present it to the band or other musicians and play it in a band format and see how it works. You can do either or both have the band play it like you want to hear it (if they'll cooperate) or let them play what they hear out of your song..it can be interesting or frustrating depending on how you like the results.

    Hope that's helpful..good luck!
     
  16. AL30

    AL30 Member

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    Harmonize the major scale - it's quite an eye opener.

    GREAT band !! Paul Westerbrug is a fantastic songwriter.

    There is a Beatles book out called "The Beatles - The Complete Scores" around $50 on Amazon. Get it.

    Listen to great songwriters. Beatles, Westerburg, Scott Miller, Dylan...

    AL
     
  17. boomchickaboom

    boomchickaboom Member

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    I love powerpop.


    It's one of the styles where I'd say you should listen to and play a lot of songs in the style. Some music styles you learn by jumping into the deep end and soaking on 'em. As a powerpop fan I'm not lookig for you to break any really new ground, I wanna hear something that's kinda familiar from the first listen. To me, a good powerpop song is one you can sing along with by the second chorus. But that's me.

    Here's a link to my friends the Motorz.

    www.themotorz.com

    Listen to some of their tunes. They're familiar but not copies of anything in particular.

    How do you do that? I think a big part of it is your ears. You have to hear the melodies. Some people do it naturally, if you don't you'll have to listen to and play a lot of powerpop. Learning the Beatles, Kinks, Raspberries catalogs won't do you any harm.

    If it's still not coming to you, then you might be like most of us. Keep writing and listening.


    d
     
  18. Antero

    Antero Member

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    The band to listen to today as far as power-pop goes is The New Pornographers (and A. C. Newman, their leader). Excellent, excellent in every aspect.

    The other power-pop-ish band of note is The Wrens. Two awesome guitarists there, too.

    And, of course, no power-pop band should be without a copy of The Pixies' masterpiece, Doolittle. Not power-pop, but definitely power, and definitely pop. Alternative was born here.

    In my band, most of our stuff comes from the bassist, a committed Beatlesy power-popper, and then I hit it with jazz chords and raw noise and drones and other unexpected things until it sounds different.

    He writes by simply playing chords and singing over them in ways that please him, and lets each chord lead from one to the next according to what sounds right in his head. He then goes back, fills in chorus/bridge sections, then fills in lyrics - he doesn't care much about lyrics, while I'm obsessed.

    I generally write by humming to myself until I strike a chunk of melody, and spinning it off from there. I also pull some theory in for interesting sounds - if I'm singing the fifth of the iii chord, say, I'll stop and run through some unexpected chords to go under it. It's a process of building things and tearing bits away - I do a lot of targeted oddness, "Okay, what if I don't change chords" or "What if I cut a beat out here?" or "What if we don't bother with a proper chorus?"

    One trick that I love (stole from the Wrens) is to have two chords playing at the same time - in the chorus of a song we just finished, I took his chord progression and put two different chords over the top of it, so the guitars rub together and everything sounds huge.
     
  19. Poppa Stoppa

    Poppa Stoppa Member

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    Hey MrDaveK - just makin' sure you know what Al's saying here, it's the big one, where a sequence like D-A-Bm-G comes from, and the start place for Beatles songs, jazz, powerpop, almost everything.

    Then there's the 'money chords' - majors built on I, bVII, VI. in A this is A-G-D.

    Add in major chords built on notes of the minor pentatonic (like the intro of Knock on Wood, E-G-A-B-D).

    Finally blues chords, eg using a dom7th for the I chord.
     
  20. mindwave_21

    mindwave_21 Member

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    Hey eBay,
    Why don't you just post the "lesson" or "elemental explanation" here? I'm sure tons of people, including me, are interested in what you have to say.

    In terms of the original post, I'm just going to regurgitate some things I've heard. Take with a grain of salt, as I am no McCartney and still UNfamous.

    1. The first thing to do is to emulate the artists you are listening to, then differentiate. Maybe you could take progressions and melodies to a hit song and write new lyrics to them. Then you could change the melody slightly. Keep changing it and see if it doesn't lead to something.

    2. Keep a tape recorder. Play your progression and sing nonsense over the chords. Maybe you'll find an interesting melody when you play back the recording.

    3. I don't really know if this one is a tip. I think you've got to find your own songs catchy. If you're not accidentally humming your hook at work or when you are out and about, it's not catchy enough to be power pop. Embarrassingly enough, I found myself doing this one day to what soon became one of my favorite self-written songs.

    Bands that I consider power pop (which may be different from your interpretation of the phrase) - Beatles, Weezer, Phantom Planet, Panic! at the Disco, Fall Out Boy, Oasis, Green Day.
     

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