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Do you really "write"?

Discussion in 'General Instruction [BG]' started by Cornbread, Jun 30, 2001.

  1. Cornbread


    Jun 20, 2000
    Lawrence, Ma
    I have "written" a few songs, but I haven't actually notated them all on paper. I just remember what I was playing (after all, it is MY song). For me, writing everything out is a tedious process that I'm not very skilled at doing. I did write out one piece using notation software that allowed me to hear what I was writing, and even that took about an hour for 4 bars. My question is, how many of you actually write out your compositions (in standard notation, not tab), and how many just remember what you played?
  2. Chris Fitzgerald

    Chris Fitzgerald Student of Life Staff Member Administrator

    Oct 19, 2000
    Louisville, KY
    I write mine into Finale (standard notation program) when they're finished, but while I'm working on them, I usually just sketch them out and notate the specific parts that are too complex to remember if I walk away from the tune for more than a couple of days. Remember the reason for notation is twofold: it allows a piece of music to remain absoltutely intact for an indefinite period of time, which allows you to forget about it and then suddenly have the whole thing at your fingertips again; and it is the easiest way to get a bunch of other musicians to play something new that you have written.

    Lots of people here argue about the second half of the above statement, but IMO written music can help avoid a lot of headaches down the road. It can even - believe it or not - alleviate some of the little Ego-related CONTROL issues that groups of musicians sometimes go through, because when it's written exactly, you either played it CORRECTLY, or you played it INCORRECTLY - it's black and white, cut and dried. On the other hand, how many little fussy musician cat-fights have started with one guy trying to "show" another guy on a different instrument something he's come up with, and having to resort to, "no,...NO....You're not playing that right"?

    Answer: more than one. That situation is just BEGGING for trouble - it's like using a torch as a light source to check out how many fireworks you have for the 4th of July. Notation circumvents these kinds of problems.
  3. *ToNeS*


    Jan 12, 2001
    Sydney AU
    as a bass player, i don't really "write" anything as such - just come up with grooves :) depending on how much i've had to drink at rehearsal, i might or might not remember what i had down for whatever song we were working on. but who cares ? playing a song the same way every time sucks a distinctly smelly mound of excrement, i reckon. and as the low-end, you've got a fair bit more freedom to wander on the tunes than the lead instruments do. but as a compositional instrument, the bass guitar is sadly neglected - your standard four-string only covers two octaves sure, but that's still a fair bit of range you got there, consider the melodic and rhythmic capabilities of the instrument. but yeah, i have been guilty of tabbing some of our songs out because doing them in standard notation simply isn't very practical and is very time consuming. i can read music, but for easy reference, yes i use tab, okay, I USE TAB GODAMMIT !!!!
  4. Chris A

    Chris A Chemo sucks! In Memoriam

    Feb 25, 2000
    Manchester NH
    I write songs on guitar usually, so I find that putting the songs down on a cassette helps to remember the song after I haven't worked on it for a while. It also helps when I want to come up with a groovin' bassline to go with the guitar and vocals that I've laid down already. Then when you are finished you have a rough(yet totally acceptable) tape to send in for the copyright registration.

    Chris A.:rolleyes:
  5. Hategear

    Hategear Workin' hard at hardly workin'.

    Apr 6, 2001
    Appleton, Swissconsin
    My thinking used to be that if I had something in my head, and I figured it out on my bass and then forgot it, it must not have been that great to begin with. More recently, I started writing some of the passages down, so I would remember them, "great" or not. Still more recently, I found that if I don't also record them somehow, I often have the notes written out, but I forget how I played them.
  6. Chris Fitzgerald

    Chris Fitzgerald Student of Life Staff Member Administrator

    Oct 19, 2000
    Louisville, KY

    As a graphic demonstration of why many people feel that standard notation is superior to tab, try reading (and comprehending) this sentence quickly, and then try to imagine reading an entire short story or novel in this format.

    The above is not an attempt to start a flame war - it is simply an attempt to make a very direct point. 'Nuff said.


  7. Lovebown


    Jan 6, 2001
    Yeah sometimes I grab a piece of notation paper and draw bass clef, time signature and mark out notes. I have my warmup excercises notated so I don't forget to cover something (its good to practice playing only quarternotes, triplets etc.).

    If I come w/something real dandy I might notate it (or tab it if i dont have time) so i wont forget it.

  8. I compose my tunes on guitar and/or piano. I record everything when I'm "creating", since a lot of it is spontaneous and I don't want to break the "flow" by stopping to jot down notes. I usually have a scratch pad for quick notes. When I think I have what could be the final version, I put it down on paper.
  9. I never actually "write" anything I've "written". I sometimes tab out some grooves so I don't forget them, but I can remember anything I come up with. When our band get's a guitar player, I'm gonna have to write it out for him instead of going, "No, your hand goes here, then here, then goes to the 7th fret, then....."...too much trouble.
  10. jazzbo


    Aug 25, 2000
    San Francisco, CA
    I write out lead charts, and notate cartain pieces of melody that may be difficult to remember.

    Essentially, Chris said everything I could have in his post, except I don't have Finale. Why don't you burn that and send it my way, eh Chris?! ;)
  11. Cornbread


    Jun 20, 2000
    Lawrence, Ma
    DURRL, nice demostration. I couldn't have said it better.

    So, what you guys are saying is that you don't write out everything right away and wouldn't necessarily write out an entire bass line unless it is not memorable.
    A lot of the bass lines that I create tend to be funky, or at least not as simple as quarter notes all over the place. Because my writing skills are pretty novice, it would take me forever to write out all my stuff. Then, because my reading skills are also novice, I would have difficulty playing the part exactly as I originally intended. I guess I just need to keep practicing.
  12. i transcribed solos and so forth while taking lessons in college, but other than that i have no use for writing anything now. sight reading is hard enough =)
  13. I write down ALL music + lyrics of all our songs..

    example : what if your guitarist or lead singer decides to drop out, and you don't have the lyrics or guitartabs written down somewhere ???
    i can't imagine how hard it will be to learn the songs to a new guitarist / singer..

    that's why !
  14. furtim


    Dec 12, 1999
    Boston, MA, USA
    Writing notation is, like, hard and stuff. =X

    I don't know, I don't think in terms of quarter notes and triplets and syncopated beats and whatever else. I just hear something in my head and fail miserably at trying to play it. I'd be totally lost if I tried to write anything down. =/

    My reading is fine, but that doesn't mean I can write the lines I hear in my head. Which kinda sucks, I guess.

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