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Guys in bands, SONGWRITING methods?

Discussion in 'Bar' started by shred101, Apr 22, 2010.

  1. shred101

    shred101 Member

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    I always love a good songwriting banter. How do you guys approach it? For me its a cross between improvisation and thinking of the big picture so I basically just jam to come up with cool riffs, consider the type of beat/section is most suited to it (I.e. create a full band "part" from it) and then structure the "parts" together so that they flow nicely.
    I hardly ever worry about tempo changes or time signature changes to a large extent either because I find by adding/subtracting multiples of 15 (I.e. 15, 30, 45, 60) to the tempo you can pretty much fit anything together and I like that kind of variation in songs.
    What screws me up most is that because I do more traditional rock based stuff with my woman it can be hard to break from verse/bridge/chorus/repeat/solo/end structures sometimes and that rarely works for my own stuff.
     
  2. Uladyne

    Uladyne Greg

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    Most of the stuff I come up with happens away from my studio or even an instrument. It will usually be some rhythm that I'll have to add a melody to later on when I get to a guitar. I have absolutely no formula though. If something doesn't sound good after I record a rough version, I pretty much leave it to rot and never visit it again. If it does sound good, I'll keep adding parts to it until I get stuck, which sometimes is instantaneous. In rare cases I'll bust out a whole song in one or two sessions, other times I'll lay down one riff and be spent, resulting in a collection of riffs that I like that I sit on for a while. Sometimes one of these old riffs ends up inspiring new riffs and collectively evolve into a complete song.

    It also helps being in a band again, because if I have some riffs I'm absolutely stuck on, I can send them to my guitarist and he might be inspired to write a whole song around it, and vice-versa.

    I've learned long ago to never force anything. If I'm not inspired before I pick up the guitar, chances are I won't come up with anything good after I start mucking around with it. It has to be natural for me, therefore I take a very passive approach to songwriting. I let ideas come to me rather than search them out.

    Presently I'm actually abstaining from songwriting, which is weird, but my band has an album coming out in June and I want it to still be fresh for me when it's released. If I had a bunch of new stuff written by then I would be annoyed that I couldn't include the new stuff on the record, haha.
     
  3. shred101

    shred101 Member

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    LOL yeah I totally empathize with this... a good chunk of the stuff im working with now used to be a hell of a lot more simplistic and I just felt the need to rehash everything eventually... although last time that happened we were lucky enough to be changing drummers so I insisted upon it and got away with it :lol:.

    Everything sounds a lot different after the first batch of gigs/crummy demos.
     
  4. Aaron Smith

    Aaron Smith Envisage Audio

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    I write into a template Pro Tools session I've put together, and rather than programming drums with MIDI and software, I just literally move drum samples around on the grid. It sounds time consuming, but I've been doing it for so long now that it really has no effect at all on my timeliness when trying to remain creative during songwriting...it's just a part of the flow. There's also guitar tracks all set up, and MIDI tracks and a couple MIDI instruments for ambient stuff if I want to add it. As much as possible, the production aspect is all put in place so I can focus more on the song than on the engineering.

    As far as the actual songwriting goes, a lot of times I'll just be messing with my guitar, not even necessarily plugged in, and come up with a cool rhythm or chord or pattern of plucked notes, and once I've got that initial spark of excitement about something, I'll fire up the computer and record it, and put drums to the idea. More often than not, that initial section of the song causes me to basically hear in my head where the song should go next, and I just keep going. When I'm lucky I can pound out a whole structured song that I'm satisfied with in like, 8-10 hours, but sometimes I get caught up on the structuring and it will take a few sessions on separate days for me to get a fresh enough perspective to make it all happen. It's ALWAYS the structure that takes the most time for me, not writing individual parts. I really hate the verse-chorus-verse-chorus-bridge-chorus structure that gets used everywhere, and so I push myself quite hard to turn out songs that aren't predictable, yet have a really great flow to them.
     
  5. AudioPhile777

    AudioPhile777 Mathew Cohen

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    I record riffs and (when I'm not experiencing writer's block) I just sit and write riff after riff and connect them, then start filling in temporary (sometimes permanent) drum parts to help facilitate a continued writing process.
     
  6. shred101

    shred101 Member

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    Thats sorta what I do, I tend to piss off people when Im working face to face with them because I end up writing their parts for them as I hear the riff. I get horrible writers block and I've had stuff on the burner for months now...
     
  7. K Odell

    K Odell \=/Varnisher\=/

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    I generally write like Aaron stated above. Although lately I have been digging writing in a live situation with our drummer. Before hand I had always written at my comp in a template I have and then when the song was done I would show the band, but this doing it at our rehearsal space has been kind of cool.
     
  8. Mago

    Mago Austrian Blech Machine

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    I use Guitar Pro a lot for writing songs, helps to arrange the parts and listen quick how different stuff sounds.
    but what I like most is if I just hit record to a simple drumbeat and something evolves slowly...doesnt happen all the time but its more fun haha
    and sometimes it just hits me and I have half a song in mind...seldom, unfortunately...
    I think it's funny how some songs take shape in minutes/hours, and others in months/years....
     
  9. Nebulous

    Nebulous Daniel

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    I use to write in Guitar pro, but I found I use to obsess over details that got in the way of the writing. I now use Cubase and record each part as it comes to me, re-record it if I want to change it, etc and also record the bass parts, then pass that on for the voclas and drums to get worked on by others I've started collaborating with.
     
  10. Melb_shredder

    Melb_shredder Orpheus: Melodic Death

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    it seems most of us in escence do the same things though which is cool. Mine's pretty much the same as Uladyne. I start riffing, and go OH! And record it in cubase. After that usually it's getting the band in next prac and building around it. But Sometimes, and it's maybe been for 2 or 3 songs on the album we are recording, I've just gone OH SNAP! *Yes I say that in my mind when I riff hehe* and just finish a song in a night. Those 1 hour wonders tend to be the ones that feel the best and groove the most in context of the song :)
     
  11. TravisW

    TravisW Member

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    I get a riff stuck in my mind, figure out how to play it, record it, and try to throw two more parts after it. I'm big on getting three parts recorded, if nothing else, just to give the riff context. If I have more ideas, I throw them in. If not, I let it go. After it has percolated in my mind for another couple of days or so, I generally have enough ideas to get an initial arrangement for a full song down. I record a rough demo with nothing but a click, guitars, and bass--then we learn it as a band. I leave the drumming pretty much wide open. I give the drummer some ideas of what I had in mind, but he's free to write his own part. The same applies to the bass player to a large degree, unless I have an extremely distinct idea of what I want the bass to be doing. From there, we start working on the arrangement. Some arrangements never change, some have parts cut out (I tend to write songs too long), some have parts added in. When we have something that we think works, we record an actual rehearsal of it and listen back to see how the flow and energy are. From there, we might try some variations and see how they work.

    It's more time-consuming than hashing everything out by myself, but I think the end result is better. Freeing up the rhythm section somewhat has made things groove a lot harder, since the drummer and bassist can focus on locking together on what they do best, rather than on my vision of a kick pattern or whatever.
     
  12. Nebulous

    Nebulous Daniel

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    Exactly the style I'm going for.
     
  13. NoSoup4you22

    NoSoup4you22 Keep on blorpin'

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    Usually the first idea in a song of mine is one of the guitar riffs or a main chord progression, which I'll either come up with while playing around or it'll pop into my head in the shower or something. I'll usually know instantly where in the song the riff might fit - prechorus, intro, etc. Accompanying drums are usually pretty clear-cut from the moment I find the riff also. Then I'll play around with ways to lead into and out of it, and develop a couple small sections of song. I might have something like a solid verse and prechorus, and then often it's a struggle to figure out an equally inspired intro to the song. Once I have one I guess I tend to work chronologically, except in longer songs - once I get to say, past the second chorus I'll start planning out a song structure on paper - very important - it's gotta be paper. Idk why.

    Other than this logical planning I sometimes do to keep the song tightly structured (but not formulaic,) I firmly believe the music writes itself. My best work is the stuff that happens with the least thought, or even by accident. If I'm really lucky I can get through 3 or 4 riffs/ideas at a time and skip the whole thinking process, and they'll just flow naturally from the subconscious. At some point my inspiration will run out, but by then hopefully I have some stuff to go off of, and reuse in different ways throughout the song later. I try to get the most out of each idea, using it in different contexts to make the song more cohesive.

    A common problem is that I'll find myself in key/tempo/time signature X and I need to get back to totally unrelated Y at some point for structure purposes - this is when logic and theory skills are handy. Generally, the subconscious deals with the main ideas, and then I have to consciously think about how to connect them and keep it from being a mess.

    I write the whole song this way for guitar and drums, hand-in-hand, and add in any important keyboard parts along the way. Once that's done, I go back through and write bass parts that counterpoint the rest as much as possible, without making it cluttered or distracting from important parts. Last thing is the vocal melodies/rhythms - most of my friends do vocals first, idk - sometimes it's hard to fit them in there, depending on how dense the song has become, but it's always worked out in the end so far. Oftentimes there's only one combination of notes that sounds right! This is more of a logic thing than a natural process for me - my inspiration tends to be instrumental. I'll admit I'm not a hook oriented songwriter. I'm happy with the results I get though.
     
  14. Emdprodukt

    Emdprodukt Member of Dude Castle 69

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    I do everything because I'm a Band-Hitler.
     
  15. Nebulous

    Nebulous Daniel

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    Lol, I use to do the whole band hitler thing, albeit without having a band to perform it with. Didn't work out well for me and it doesn't leave any surprises for you if you're the one who started writing the song.
     
  16. Torniojaws

    Torniojaws They call me Juha

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    I record a big bunch of riffs (10-15), then I add some basic drums that fit, then I test out various lead guitar lines and synthesizers/samples. When I'm happy with each part, I record the bass parts, trying to make them interesting, and then I start to combine the parts into a song. When I feel the structure works well, I finish up the drums and add some extra fills etc. Then later I write the lyrics and record demo vocals.
     
  17. Jevil

    Jevil Pro Evolution Fucker

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    Heil brother! I'm a Band-Franco. From now on we are friends.
    [​IMG]

    Seriously, sometimes I start with a blank template, other times I have a riff as a start.... it is like the first brick... then I build the house.
     
  18. shred101

    shred101 Member

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    ^^^--- Yeah I get this a lot, I always ended up writing everything for the dicks I was in a band with because they had no creativity whatsoever and then find out later that they didnt have the talent to play it either. I think unless you've got the right people in from the start then you're basically fucked with this.
     
  19. 26

    26 Muzak by request

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    start fiddling around. stick with something that i feel belongs to me and reflects a certain feel, and start working on that PART (you can always make a part better in terms of "harmony logic", that's the real "compose part"). leave it alone afterwards.
    days, weeks or sometimes months later, a part with just that certain feeling pops up (same procedure) and i' ll try to connect them compositionally.
    so basically i try to collect feelings/expressions (or the facets of my character), and organize them into songs or musical pieces.
    takes time unfortunately......

    alternative a "real" song (usually acoustic) in one run.

    i think it was mick jagger who once said, the best songs were probably written in 5 minutes.
    why good in 5 minutes? because it's a flow of one feel without the mind disturbing it......
     
  20. shred101

    shred101 Member

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    Man thats deep, I also find that a lot of the time the "band part" is getting in the way of progress and I have to comprimize, scrap a section and write new parts in order to finish the songs. I've also written songs Bob Dylan style like just basic chord progressions and riffed them up later by just keeping the major/minor value and/or root notes and creating riffs out of the sequences..

    Haha when I was a kid I used to just write cool riffs into a book and put stuff together like a lego bucket.
     

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