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Advice for songwriting?

Discussion in 'Band Management [BG]' started by TunnelPig, May 18, 2011.

  1. TunnelPig


    May 6, 2011
    New Jersey
    Let's talk songwriting for a minute - also, if this is in the wrong forum, my apologies because I don't know a better one and it's pretty relevant anyway.

    So I've been playing music/bass for five years now and entertaining the idea of writing my own songs for about three. Although I really like the idea of creating something that people can connect with (in the same way that I connect with a lot of my favorite music) when I actually tell myself to write I never know where to start on multiple fronts and gradually get bored and do something else. I have Guitar Pro 5for notating (which requires pretty strong reading skills to use efficiently and I'm super slow with it) and I also have a DI box for my bass. Though I'm getting into funk now, historically I have listened to a lot of metal and can only imagine that this would undoubtedly show through something I write.

    Basically I'm looking for some advice, from bassist to bassist, that might help get me on the way to creating my own works. I'm proud of my actual bass playing and have even studied theory for the last couple years; now I'm just trying to find a way to further explore the creative aspect of music. Thanks.

    (PS - I'm much more focused on actual musical composition than lyric writing.)
  2. A few things that might help:

    1. Write something every day. An interesting lyric, a catchy two-bar melody, or even if it's revising something you wrote yesterday, anything. Music writing is like learning a language, it takes discipline to make any progress. If you're serious about writing, you can't leave it up to just writing whenever the mood strikes you.

    2. Carry with you at all times either a little steno pad, a hand-held recording device, or both. You never know when something you see or overhear might strike you as perfect for a song, and you need to write it down or sing a little ditty to sit down and flesh out later.

    3. If you're composing and you find yourself getting bored, frustrated, or distracted, don't write down another note. Walk away, do something completely different, and get your mind onto something else entirely for a few hours. Then, come back and look at it with fresh eyes and ears. Often the most challenging passages that seem to have no resolution will seem idiotically simple when viewed after clearing one's head.

    4. As bass players, we tend to focus primarily on the bass line when listening to music. Instead, try turning the bass all the way down and focusing on another instrument, such as the guitar or piano. Not only does this give you some understanding of how each instrument fits together, it will also give you an idea of where they don't. What I mean is, each instrument occupies its own space within a song. Singling them out when actively listening will help you start to feel where each instrument should and should not be heard. Also, remember when writing any melody or harmony, that silence is just as important as sound. You might be surprised by your favorite music when you start to notice what -isn't- playing at different times.

    5. Consistency is key. Try to write at the same time, for the same amount of time, and in the same place, every day. Make it a habit. Pretty soon, you'll feel strange if you miss your normal composition hour.

    As far as the notation software you mentioned being "super slow" with. Software like that is meant for preparing scores for other musicians to read and play from. From the sound of it, going with a simple USB mic and a free DAW (digital audio workstation) such as Audacity might be a better option. That way you don't have to know complex music notation in order to write music and you will probably find yourself having an easier and more enjoyable time than, say, spending 30 minutes figuring out how to write 5 bars and getting bored. This leads me to my final piece of advice, and that is...

    HAVE FUN! :D :bassist:

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