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Help with band writing originals.

Discussion in 'Miscellaneous [BG]' started by odie, Oct 4, 2002.

  1. odie

    odie Supporting Member

    Well we just got a hard disk multi tracker and we're going to start writing originals. Problem is we've been doing the cover thing for a few years and havent done any originals as a group yet.

    How do we get the mojo flowing??

    Any advice on how to come up with an idea on bass and still convey an idea to the guitarist on what to do. I used to play guitar but Im a much better bassist.
  2. Well when I write I usually start with a standard form. Like a I - IV - V or I - vi - ii - V. Then I build in scalor or chordal runs to make them intresting.

    Don't get all hung up on using a lot of notes (roots), once you build the fundamental progression then you can expand the bassline.

    Also, I tend to write in movements an A section (verse) and a B section (chorus). I also like to write varients in the sections, so it's not a straight ABAB or even a AABA so the form ends up something like A1-A2-B1-C-B2.

    I have found that once you've developed a solid structure with strong rythmic components, the lyrics almost write themselves.

    I forgot to mention I usually have a concept of what the song is about, (a story I want to tell) before I even pick up the instrument.

    Sorry if I got longwinded, It's just how I write originals.
  3. Hategear

    Hategear Workin' hard at hardly workin'.

    Apr 6, 2001
    Appleton, Swissconsin
    Bo knows originals.
  4. CS


    Dec 11, 1999
    I with somthing that inspires me to develop it into a song. I could be a guitar riff (or even sound) drum pattern (real or machine) bassline ive come up with or even a lyric that came to me. I'll work with it and build it up. SOmetims I'll graft two songs together or fit a riff into another song. I'll then take it to the band who ruin it. I mean add their own arrangements.
  5. Blackbird

    Blackbird Moderator Supporting Member

    Mar 18, 2000
    There's no rule that says the whole band has to write the material together.

    Bring in your idea for a song and let the band fill in the gaps you leave.
  6. Bard2dbone


    Aug 4, 2002
    Arlington TX
    I would usually have a song mostly worked out before I showed it to the rest of the band.

    Having said that, some of our best originals just kind of happened as a groove in between our other songs at practice. Then I would get a lyric idea and say " Go back to that thing you were doing a little while ago."

    When I brought in lyrics that didn't have music yet, they were usually things I wrote while bothered about something, or mad, singing out loud while stuck in traffic, for instance.

    Basically all this means keep trying till you find what works for you, and don't be tied to just one method. Go with your instincts and you instincts will get stronger.
  7. Boplicity

    Boplicity Supporting Member

    One band I played in that played originals had a system that we started at the beginning, but it evolved as months wore on.

    In the beginnning we had a range of bands we admired. We studied their music very carefully, trying to determine how they achieved their sound, tone, how they structured their songs, what lyrics were about, attitude, etc.

    Then we developed kind of a guide from that and starting with the drummer or the guitarist, we tried to develop songs that fit that mold. As our music was rythmicly driven, getting a drum and guitar and bass riff going was a good start and try to see where that took us. We might change a song around many times before we were satisfied that an arrangement was the one we all liked.

    It was not unknown for us to take bits and peices from two or three of our songs and combine them into what we beleived was a more powerful and effective song.

    Often when we had a kind of structure for a song, we gave it a title and that often spurred further creativity on the stucture, because we might be inspired by a chorus the lyrics seemed to dictate or a new way of arranging the song.

    After a year of this kind of procedure, we departed more and more from trying to sound like our favorite bands, and started branching out and experimenting with a sound that was more distinctive and less evocative of well known bands.
  8. All good suggestions so far. Now it's time for the opinion of this marginally-talented bassist, and how me and my marginally-talented band wrote songs. It's a well-tested scientific principle, in the following steps:

    Step 1: Turn stuff on.
    Step 2: Start playing.

    I'm being a little facetious, but we would do a lot of throwing around ideas off the cuff just to see what would happen. One of us would play something that he'd been working on, or just came into his head at the moment, and see if the others would/could follow along. And we taped EVERYTHING. You play and tape for a while, play back the results, and see what did and didn't work. Sometimes even the god-awfulest blasts of noise could yield five or ten seconds of an idea that could turn into something workable. Once in a while you get an entire 'song' down on the first try, and refine from there. We'd record two tracks using a four-track cassette recorder, and sometimes we'd play things backwards, slow it down, etc., just to see if that would lead to some new ideas.

    None of us could read nor write music very well, so this was easier for us than trying to hash out ideas on paper. It also helped that we were pretty like-minded people, and were good at feeding off of each other's musical ideas.

    Just a suggestion. It might not work for your band, but we wrote most of our songs this way (approx. 35-40 songs over a five year period). Not to mention, jamming is a lot more fun than learning covers, at least to me.
  9. Justin V

    Justin V

    Dec 27, 2000
    Alameda, CA
    My band usually makes up the parts in a sort of jam session, then either my singer tries to fit some lyrics that we've already got to the song or one of us goes to the bathroom and writes something. After that, we play it on the 4-track and see how it sounds. It may not be the most efficient way of doing things, but it works for us.

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