Songwriting... holy schnikes... What's your process?

Discussion in 'The Sound Hound Lounge' started by padavis, May 27, 2015.

  1. padavis

    padavis Member

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    We've been trying to get some originals together. We have a few as of right now. Two came together like a flash. One is a country song about a particular thing in that culture and the others are fairly basic love lost songs... Pretty straight up chord progressions... nothing special yet...

    What is your process? How do you write your songs? Any tips or secrets?

    A couple things we heard and agree on for pop/country stuff is big catchy hooks and repetitive beat it into the ground ideas... Where do you draw the line between art and accessibility?!
     
  2. FFTT

    FFTT Member

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    Theme Story Concept
    Melody
    Lyrics (this may take forever)
    Chorus
    Bridge
    Arrangements moving stuff around for flow.
    Get to the chorus in 30 seconds or less.

    The hardest thing for me is trying somehow to keep my stuff near 3:00 minutes.
    I usually go over. Some stuff is only 2 minutes long.

    There are musical compositions, album cut listening stuff and then there are SONGS.
    Songs generally have a part where the audience joins in to sing along,
    so the strength and memorability of your chorus is really important.

    Even if you are not a fan. Study The Traveling Wilburys arrangements.
    These are master hit writers. Pay close attention to how they structure their songs.
    Tom Petty Full Moon Fever is good too.
     
    Last edited: May 27, 2015
    Oscar A and natethegreat12 like this.
  3. pickaguitar

    pickaguitar 2011 TGP Silver Medalist Silver Supporting Member

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    I try to leave space to make a lot out of a little. The simpler the format/chording the better makes for a good song imo.
    But I don't have pandering lyrics to go with it...the art is in the lyrics imo.
     
  4. FFTT

    FFTT Member

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    Yeah but sometimes drunk chic lyrics are the way to go too.

    Nah Nah Nah Nah Nah Nah Nah, Nah Nah Nah Nah, Hey Jude!

    Wilson Pickett Land of A 1000 Dances as well as
    Supremes-Steam Nah Nah Nah Nah Hey Hey Goodbye.
     
    Last edited: May 27, 2015
  5. loudboy

    loudboy Member

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    A good example of the craft of songwriting, vs. the art.

    Those songs were written, and recorded one per day. Not much serious art there, but if you take writers as great as Dylan, Petty and Harrison, they know all the tricks.

    There's Petty video from documentaries where he'll write a song in real time, rhymes, verse, chorus and a big hook. Stronger hooks/lyrics/melody than most "real" stuff that's out there.

    This was played once, written on the spot:



    Just messin' around:

     
  6. FFTT

    FFTT Member

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    His timing is uncanny, chorus damn near right on 30 seconds both of them.
     
  7. FFTT

    FFTT Member

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    I wrote this sitting in rush hour traffic on Rt. 7 heading to Tyson's Corner.

    SKEEERATCH rehearsal arrangement, but you'll get the idea.

    I usually skip the short guitar intro and just go right into the song with Gave You A Kiss.

     
  8. aiq

    aiq Supporting Member

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    Like many I suspect, I can write melody with chord prog all day long. Sit at the keyboard or pick up the acoustic and bam!

    The lyrics, hard work, much editing, few jewels.

    Just recently started back trying to write tunes with vocals.

    Have about six good starts waiting for me to enter to dungeon of pain, aka studio, to do the long march to finish.
     
  9. FFTT

    FFTT Member

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    Yes its difficult to put your heart and soul into the vocal if you don't like or you're second guessing the lyrics.

    I messed up the order of the last two lines on the song above.
    The We were so wild and young and free is supposed to be in front of the final chorus.

    I'm hearing the band parts in my head on most stuff. Once you put on the writer/arranger hat, every part has its place.

    Without a band, I have to write stuff I can pull off solo.
    Most strong songs should hold up on their own just instrument and vocal.

    I have rockers and ballads, but to do the rockers justice, I need a band and a budget.
     
    Last edited: May 27, 2015
  10. loudboy

    loudboy Member

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    Modern country is the sound of experienced songwriters making money. There's not really much "art" there. Lots of "craft" and top-flight players and production will give you the hits, if you've got the mega-$ promotion machine behind you.
     
  11. DLobe

    DLobe Member

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    I almost always start with a strong Title. I collect 'em. The title should mean something to you, and by extension, the listener. Lyrics aren't that tough - you just need a strong opening line and off you go. Remember: you are talking (singing) to one person. Mean what you say. Here's an example:
    Title: "Change Everything". You've got a title, you need a Scenario, in this case a man and woman about to "cross the line" in the wee morning hours:
    "The sun was almost up and you were gonna make your getaway
    But you stopped to think about it and decided you were gonna stay
    We talked about the consequences as you slipped off your ring
    And we know this could Change Everything
    We know this could Change Everything"

    Good luck!
     
  12. loudboy

    loudboy Member

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    Same subject, quite a different take - from Julie Miller.

    Man, what an image she creates with the bolded line, not to mention the bitchin' internal rhyme...

    When I gave you my heart
    It was not what you wanted
    Now the walls say your name
    And the pictures are haunted
    Does my ring burn your finger
    Did my love weigh you down?
    Was the promise too much to keep around?
     
    Last edited: May 27, 2015
  13. Crowder

    Crowder Dang Twangler Silver Supporting Member

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    I keep a running log of lyric ideas on an email thread between me and myself. If I read or hear a line that sounds interesting, no matter how random, I'll reply to the email with it. When I finally get time to write, I pull up that email thread and transfer it to a Word doc so I can pull ideas together, edit and revise. I've created a few good songs this way, but it does two major things for me:
    1) It relieves me of the pressure of trying to remember ideas, and
    2) it keeps my antenna up for lyric ideas most of the time.

    The other thing I recommend on the lyric front is to make a list of your favorite songs, and then study their lyrics carefully. I often notice that songs I consider to have great lyrics are somewhat "underwritten." There might only be two unique verses and a compelling chorus. The writer might sketch a picture and let the listener fill in the color so they can relate to the story more. It's an odd experience to search up a great song's lyrics and find that there are only 18-20 lines.
     
  14. FFTT

    FFTT Member

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    This one means a lot to me.


    AS SOON AS I CLOSE MY EYES

    AS SOON AS I CLOSE MY EYES
    I FEEL AS THOUGH YOU'RE WITH ME
    FEEL THE WAY YOU KISS - ME
    AND HOLD YOU THROUGH THE NIGHT

    AS SOON AS I CLOSE MY EYES
    THERE IS NO LONGER DISTANCE
    BETWEEN US NO RESISTANCE
    AS ONE WE ARE THAT WAY

    PLEASE BABY DON'T GO AWAY
    JUST FOR ONCE WHY CAN'T YOU STAY
    I NEED YOU, HERE WITH ME
    MORE THAN YOU COULD KNOW

    IN THE NIGHT I COME TO YOU
    KNOW YOU FEEL IT WHEN I DO
    HOLD ME THERE IN YOU'RE HEART GIRL
    WHEN YOU'RE ALL ALONE

    NEVER HURTS TO DREAM
    THAT ONE DAY WE'RE TOGETHER
    THE WAY WE ARE TOGETHER
    WHEN YOU'RE THERE WITH ME

    AS SOON AS I CLOSE MY EYES
    AS SOON AS I CLOSE MY EYES
    AS SOON AS I CLOSE MY EYES
    AS SOON AS I CLOSE MY EYES
     
  15. stephax

    stephax Member

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    Browse the internet porn categories, that's it !


    (Don't expect too much success though. It's overrated anyway...)
     
  16. FFTT

    FFTT Member

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    I read the news today Oh Boy!
     
  17. Crowder

    Crowder Dang Twangler Silver Supporting Member

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    http://www.amazon.com/Writing-Better-Lyrics-Pat-Pattison/dp/1582975779

    ^^ This is a good book on the craft of writing better lyrics. Some of it seems very basic, but he definitely covers all the basis. Interesting information on how different meters and rhyme schemes can support or detract from lyrical content. One chapter goes through an exercise of modifying the "person" of a song to elicit different levels of meaning ("I" versus "you" versus "they").
     
  18. caspersvapors

    caspersvapors Supporting Member

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    loving this thread, in for more
     
  19. caspersvapors

    caspersvapors Supporting Member

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    Fndrbndr and stephax like this.
  20. Crowder

    Crowder Dang Twangler Silver Supporting Member

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    Here's a good lyric for you. I like that you can sort of see where the germ of the idea could have come from, and how he carried the idea about as far as he could without beating it into the ground. It creates pictures in the listener's head. I like how he works in the guy's family, but leaves some room for interpretation.

    Is the narrator trustworthy?
    Does he see himself honestly or is he delusional?
    Were the couple of people who cried he and his ex-wife?
    Are we to assume that his son is a criminal? Does he feels shame about it? Does he feel helpless to stop it?

    I think it works really well.

    The Magician
    by Jason Isbell

    You watch every move
    And call it slide of hand
    You know, it's what I do
    But never who I am, never who I am

    Started on the street
    With cards and dollar bills
    Shuffling my feet
    But never could be still, never could be still

    CHORUS
    And I am an orphan man but ain't we all?
    I can make myself disappear
    I am an orphan man but ain't we all?
    And I know somewhere worse than here

    I had a bride, I sawed her in half
    Couple people cried
    Most of them just laughed
    Most of them just laughed

    Well, I had a son
    Strong of hand and will
    I taught him how to run
    But never how to steal, never how to steal

    REPEAT CHORUS

    I was called amazing
    And I make folks believe
    With nothing in my pockets
    And nothing up my sleeve, yeah

    REPEAT CHORUS
     

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