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Songwriter's Corner

Discussion in 'Recording/Live Sound' started by jomama2, Jan 31, 2018.

  1. bard2dbone

    bard2dbone Member

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    I had a weird thought today. One of my older songs was written to be purposefully ambiguous. The main character is wandering endlessly, arrives at an abandoned house, and is relieved to be home. When he wakes up, he decides this can't be his house because it's abandoned and in disrepair, where he remembers his home was clean, full of life, had a family in it, etc...so this must not be it. So he goes back to wandering.

    I wrote it to leave out any explanation for his disordered thought processes, or what history would explain them. More than a few people heard it and immediately guessed 'Combat vet with PTSD, or brain injury?' I liked leaving it open to let the listener wonder about it.

    Then I had a dream this morning. How do ghosts KNOW they are ghosts? Maybe the wanderer is a vet that committed suicide and is looking for the last place he had peace of mind...*insert exploding brain emoji here as soon as one is invented*

    So NOW, I'm considering starting over on that one, letting the source of his mental distress be more known, and having him be one of the nearly two dozen vets a day that take that final exit. But the story happens AFTER he does it.

    Is this a good idea, or am I being misled by a REALLY vivid dream?
     
  2. Crowder

    Crowder Dang Twangler Silver Supporting Member

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    I'm going to be doing a fun event in a couple weeks as a part of Tennessee's "Songwriter Week" celebration. Me and 24 other locals will perform one original each in an effort to earn a spot at the Bluebird Cafe in March. They're choosing 2 from 25 in each of four cities, for 8 total performers. Should be a fun night. Now to figure out which song to work up...
     
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  3. chunky48

    chunky48 Member

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    It sounds like the older song works as is? Maybe this is like a sequel? Song cycle! Concept album!!
     
  4. bard2dbone

    bard2dbone Member

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    The older one kind of works. I wanted it to be a little vague. And it is. But whenever anyone asked about it, there was resistance to me saying "It's for you to decide."

    And then I had this dream yesterday morning (I work nights.) And somehow, in the dream, I knew I was the character from that song. I knew I was a ghost. And I knew that "I" didn't KNOW that I was a ghost. So then the idea of going back to your own home, but seeing it abandoned and decaying had a whole different spin.

    That and I figure somebody has to do some songs to point out the 22 vets a day that commit suicide. I know we all know about it. But do we KNOW about it?Do we really consider it?
     
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  5. pedalparty

    pedalparty Member

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    I've been a guitar/pedal/ amp head for a long time but always really just wanted to write/record my own stuff. I got a macbook and a focusrite when my last band started to disband due to time constraints and decided to really give it a go.

    I am basically trying to learn how to write lyrics, sing, play bass not like a guitarist, play drums, write songs, engineer a recording, produce a recording, and master a recording all at once. It's often intimidating but I have had a BLAST doing it. Over the past 2.5 years I have written and recorded 12 songs and have a few more i am working on. The song writing process gets a little easier for me each time. I really love doing it.

    I, like most of us am VERY obsessive about things. Always searching for perfection. The perfect tone, guitar, delay, phrase, melody, coffee, pedalboard setup, segway into a next song, steak, whatever. I often find it very counterproductive because I get too hung up on the things that don't really matter in the grand scheme of things and it makes things that should take like 10 minutes take hours or sometimes weeks. It also makes me not want to get into a new project because I know how undertaking it will be.

    In an effort to be more productive, I decided to try to completely abandon this method of thinking when it comes to recording and songwriting. Recording is obviously the biggest rabbit hole of them all. If my usual method of thinking was to be involved in recording, I would never get any further than auditioning mics on a guitar cab. If I was gonna try to learn all of these things at once that just wouldn't work. I might get really good at micing that amp but would never get a song finished. This method is working great for me, as I feel like everything is improving at about the same pace. It's also very rewarding to get a song finished, even if it isn't perfect. I can usually feel the progress from recording to recording to, which is exciting. I hadn't felt that type of progress on guitar in forever. It also helps that I listen to a lot of DIY type music, where creativity trumps engineering most of the time.

    I feel like I have improved more as a musician in the last 2.5 years than I did in the last 6-8. I even feel like my guitar playing has improved more than it ever has because it is geared more towards practical playing instead of just playing patterns and woodshedding. Its helped me just understand music more than any theory book or youtube video ever has. I was kinda burned out before but this whole process has been the most rewarding thing I've done with music. It has also made my appreciation for songwriting reach an all time high.
     
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  6. NamaEnsou

    NamaEnsou Supporting Member

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    Co-writing has been the source of the best originals I have. It's funny but no matter how I try I tend to come up with material that I don't even care for but give me someone elses idea and I can hear all kinds of possibilities.
    Not giving up on writing songs completely on my own but it would be great to find the right match in a writing partner.
     
  7. Me Again

    Me Again Member

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    I’m waaaaay too late to this thread but this is a great, and deep, and broad, topic. I’m embarrassed at how many years I’ve wasted, NOT writing and being more diligent and disciplined. I’m a very musical person and do have some level of talent and some minor accomplishments, and have been a performer for many years (still am, solo) but I’ve played guitar for decades and have very little to show for it other than three actually completed and recorded songs (you can hear complete songs on my website here) and hundreds of other snippets of ideas, some in my head and some recorded somehow somewhere on some device. And in the right hands, I truly believe many of my ideas would be great songs. But that’s where the pros separate from the amateurs, because they would take these ideas and do the work to finish them, whereas I go “yeah, that could be good” and drop it right there. Fear of failure? Maybe.... I recently, though, got a Zoom digital 8-track recorder and it’s a fantastic creative tool that I think will help me immensely. I’ve already put down some basic acoustic tracks and then, listening back to them, gotten other ideas for melody and bass lines and etc. — and with a tool like this, you just put them down immediately. The problem here might be too many ideas!

    Lyrics too have always been my downfall, and I too am my own worst critic and too quickly tell myself that, no, that’s not good or won’t work. Comparing one’s self to anyone else is a dead end killer, too, as is thinking the goal is perfection. Perfection IS the enemy of the good. And “done at all” is far better than undone anything. I, and I think, a lot of people, have to simply get out of our own way. No news here — all the best songwriters of the world will tell you the same thing. Write, write, write; work at it when you have to and let the song come to you easily when it does. Not everything has to make sense and leaving a little to the listener’s imagination is a good thing, I think.

    Yadda yadda yadda.... get on it, people! I’m snowed in all weekend... I know what I’ll be doing.
     
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  8. poliyatsi

    poliyatsi Member

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    [QUOTE = "jlt73, post: 25756779, membre: 66928"] Pour moi, je ne m'assieds pas pour essayer d'écrire. C'est juste une chose spontanée. Certaines fois, les idées coulent vraiment, d'autres fois, rien que de branler. [/ QUOTE]
    Pour les auteurs-compositeurs, est-il de ce que vous aimez ... ou que vous détestez? Que trouvez-vous plus facile vs plus difficile? Avez-vous un processus spécifique que vous utilisez ou cela varie-t-il? Est-ce que vous écrivez régulièrement ou avez-vous (comme moi) beaucoup d'écriture, puis soudainement pendant des périodes presque nulles?
     
    Last edited by a moderator: Feb 20, 2019 at 9:03 AM
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  9. 9fingers

    9fingers Supporting Member

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    My old ego wants to think I can do it all, but I mainly write with a partner and we each come up with angles the other would never think of. We get along well and agreed from the start that the best idea gets used, no matter who thought of it. Synergy, where the whole comes up greater than the sum of the parts would indicate.
     
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  10. bard2dbone

    bard2dbone Member

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    A friend of mine keeps finding old poems that he wrote like a decade previous and turning them into songs. He describes it as 'co-writing with myself".
     
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  11. NamaEnsou

    NamaEnsou Supporting Member

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    LoL. I like it!
    I've actually been going through old lyric and song ideas I found in a folder on the computer and audio bytes on my phone. Maybe I'll try to be more like your friend. :)
     
  12. Crowder

    Crowder Dang Twangler Silver Supporting Member

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    I think the hardest part of co-writing is finding someone who is a good match in terms of style (or at least flexible enough to move between styles) AND who is committed to the same level of quality as you are (not way higher or lower).

    You don't want someone who is just trying to get a song done quickly, and you don't want someone who is never satisfied that a song is finished.

    I've tried a few co-writing sessions, and those were hurdles I ran into. I'm sure it's just a matter of trial and error.
     
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  13. kludge

    kludge The droid you're looking for

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    It's a little late in the process, but for those who might be interested, check out FAWM (February Album Writing Month). The idea is to write 14 songs in 28 days. They don't have to be good songs, just songs. You can decide what works later. A friend of mine (and a prolific songwriter) is one of the admins, and my bandmate (also a prolific songwriter) has generated a lot of great material via FAWM - in particular, she wrote almost all of a concept album we're recording as a FAWM project.

    I've never been successful with it, but it does work well for a lot of people. And it certainly encourages getting to the point with a song, rather than spending all your time nooding around with "perfect" tones in your DAW rather than actually writing music.
     
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  14. kludge

    kludge The droid you're looking for

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    As for my own process... I'm not prolific, but I'm good. It took me a long time to realize I'd become a good songwriter, mostly driven by compliments from other musicians whose judgment I really respect.

    I don't seem to have a set process, except that music usually precedes lyrics, or they co-develop. I've learned that I can write really good lyrics, that pack a lot of emotional punch and complexity. I just don't have a way to make it repeatable, in part because they tend to come from deep wells of emotion within me. Three songs really stand out as "These are probably my best work". The one that moves me the most is called "I'm Sorry Moon". A few years back, I developed a chronic condition called respiratory papillomatosis. It's a rare problem that affects vocal cords and is potentially fatal. I spent half a year listening to my voice drain away every day until I was diagnosed. The diagnosis was followed a bit over a month later by full-tilt operating room surgery. I was having nightmares about it. A couple of weeks before that surgery, I woke from a nightmare with the basic structure of "I'm Sorry Moon" - the story of a wolf who couldn't howl at the moon, and felt like a lonely, shameful failure for it. The guitar part came right along with when I was writing, and I got a recording with the shattered remnants of my voice that day. It's really moving, but I don't ever again want to feel enough emotional distress to write like that. (It's since taken me over two years to learn to sing decently again, and I have to get laser surgery a few times a year to keep speaking.)

    Find pain like that, and you can write a song. And I'm sorry if you do.

    The next really great song I think of is about how much I hate driving across Wisconsin - something that happens a lot when you live in Minneapolis and have family and friends in Chicago. It was prompted by my bandmate - we were driving across Wisconsin after a gig, and she said there are three things you can find at every exit in Wisconsin, and I should write a song about it. So I did. It's called "Fireworks, Pornography, & Cheese". Part of the fun of it is that there's such a variety of musical textures - it changes so fast and so often that the listener can barely keep up. A song that offers that much musical surprise is really rewarding.

    The last one that stands out for me is a more abstract personal experience. It's a straight-up country waltz called "Party at the Halfway House". It's about the similarities between getting drunk/high and religious ecstasy. It was inspired by growing up in fundamentalist churches and noticing the weird, co-dependent relationship between the sinners who would often come to church hung over, praying loudly for forgiveness, and the church ladies who silently judged them - that these groups needed each other. It's a very sympathetic look at someone whose life is a total trainwreck, finding holiness in their troubles.

    The thing all of these songs have in common is they were inspired by deep observation of human emotions, whether my own or the feelings of others. They can be deadly serious (I'm Sorry Moon), or as silly as hating on long road trips (Fireworks Pornography & Cheese). But finding that universal emotional meaning in my own personal experiences is how I write well.
     
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  15. BCnSTL

    BCnSTL Member

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    My best stuff comes out when I don't over-think it.
    A song can be enormously important -and- totally irrelevant.
    There are no rules. Write for yourself.
     
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  16. bard2dbone

    bard2dbone Member

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    The part that I bolded for emphasis is important. I'm variably prolific. But when I'm writing a lot, I'm also writing a lot of crap. Strangely, when I write much less, I also write somewhat better. I'm undecided whether it's actually that much better, or if it's just that the same amount of time and effort is used on less material and the attention shows. It could go either way. But really strong emotions are often song inspirations. After my wife died I probably wrote over a hundred songs in the first ten months. But they were all SUCH junk. Therapeutic as all get out, sure. But real and total garbage. It took that long before I found a coherent way to describe how I felt in one phrase. I said "It feels like the whole universe is broken." Then I thought 'That actually makes some sense. Now how would I describe noticing a broken universe? Gravity is different? The sun has faded? The birds are out of tune? How about all of those?' And that's how I got the chorus for 'Mourning.'
     
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  17. bard2dbone

    bard2dbone Member

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    Aw. The heck with it. I'll just post it:

    Mourning.

    There's a hole in my world shaped just like her
    It's the place where she used to be.
    I can see her in my mind every minute
    But now she's only with me when I dream

    I wish I'd known the last time that I saw her...
    would be the last time I'd see her again.
    We never prepared for that moment.
    Real love stories aren't supposed to end.

    Now gravity pulls a little harder.
    The sun's not quite as bright.
    The birds have all gone out of tune.
    My whole universe is not quite...right.

    It hurts to see the places where we were happy.
    I don't know what to say to my friends.
    I want to hide from the world in my blankets.
    Real love stories aren't supposed to end.

    It feels just like my whole world has been broken.
    I'll spend the rest of my life all alone
    Forever just got so much longer
    when I had to choose her headstone

    Now gravity pulls so much harder.
    The sun's not quite as bright.
    The birds have all gone out of tune.
    My whole universe is not quite...right.

    I wish I'd known the last time that saw her
    would be the last time I'd see her again.
    We never prepared for that moment.
    Real love stories aren't supposed to end.
    Real love stories aren't supposed to end.
     
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  18. Larry Eh?

    Larry Eh? Member

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    Very moving. I don't want to speak for you since I'm not in your shoes and don't know your situation, but the only thing I would have added is something along the lines of "My life is better for having known her". Or maybe that could be the theme of another separate song. After having gone through this song of mourning, you could write one to celebrate how lucky you were to have known her.
     
  19. Crowder

    Crowder Dang Twangler Silver Supporting Member

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    Just for inspiration, here are two songs that strike me as being just about perfect.



     
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  20. kludge

    kludge The droid you're looking for

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    Wow. You did a good job with both finding a lyrical concept from the emotions, and putting it together in a way that makes sense.

    Just to share both ways, here's the lyrics for "I'm Sorry Moon"

    The full moon shining through the trees
    Scent of winter in the breeze
    Wish I could sing and howl just what I feel
    The pack has gathered on the hill
    Where they can sing and howl their fill
    Coz when you howl you know you're not alone
    The Sun must always bring the dawn
    Sun must set when day is done
    The Moon just comes and goes as she pleases
    The Moon won't answer when you call
    And she may not rise at all
    But when the Moon shines you must dream or you must sing

    And I would if I could
    But I can't so I won't
    Would if I could
    But I can't so I won't
    Would if I could
    But I can't so I won't
    Would if I could
    If I could
    If I could

    I'm sorry Moon, I love your light
    But I can't sing to you tonight
    I can't howl out loud and you're too far away
    My broken voice won't fill the air
    I know that you don't really care
    You may not need my song but I need to sing it anyway

    And I would if I could
    But I can't so I won't
    Would if I could
    But I can't so I won't
    Would if I could
    But I can't so I won't
    Would if I could
    If I could
    If I could
     
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