1. Please take 30 seconds to register your free account to remove most ads, post topics, make friends, earn reward points at our store, and more!  

How to go about song writing

Discussion in 'Jazz Technique [DB]' started by joecoote, Feb 16, 2013.

  1. joecoote


    Feb 11, 2013
    Im not sure if this part of the forum is appropriate for this question and i apologise if not, but I was just wondering how most people here would go about writing a jazz song? I used to write very basic pop songs but since getting into jazz playing I was wondering what most people do. I'm at a beginner stage for writing my own compositions so any help would be greatly appreciated.
  2. skwee


    Apr 2, 2010
    For a jazz tune, I'd do the following:
    pick a standard progression: 12 or 16 bar blues, or I Got Rhythm.
    pick a style: straight-ahead, bop, bossa nova, swing, or ballad.
    create a melody line that fits over that progression and style.
    pick a subject for your tune.
    write some lyrics to go with the subject.
  3. Don't forget: have something to say.
  4. SirMjac28

    SirMjac28 Patiently Waiting For The Next British Invasion

    Aug 25, 2010
    The Great Midwest
    I just get on the piano and start noodling until I come up with a Melody then add the bass parts and fill in with other midi instruments horn,drums etc.
  5. tmntfan


    Oct 6, 2011
    Edmonton canada
    while taking composition in school we had to do a verity of things.
    -Write a blues tune
    -write a modal tune (so what, saga of Harrison crab feathers)
    -a standard practice in jazz is to write a new melody over an old standard.
    - re harmonize an existing melody is a good exercise.

    then there are the kind of weird ideas:
    -mashing two penta-tonic scales into one scale (say adding all the notes from A penta tonic and B pentatonic, or adding A pentatonic and Eb pentatonic)
    -take each note of a melody and using that as the bass note for a chord, then write a new melody
    - invert a melody and reharm after (after the first note if the next note goes up a maj 3rd your new melody goes down a maj 3rd and so on)
    - like the above but play a melody in reverse (last note becomes the first note) and reharm.

    doing a lot of this will teach you what chord progressions you like and how to think creatively when you have an idea.
    in class we talked about how some classical composers didn't have a lot of motifs but would move it around (in the violins, then the reeds, then the brass, then back to the violins but at Forte and an octave up, then a transposition to a new key, then staccato... etc
    another thing is- once you have a melody- shift it around. start on beat 1, start on beat 2 and adjust to make sure the notes fit the harmony.
    or elongate /compress it, turn a 4 bar iii-iv-ii-V with quarter notes into a 1 bar with triplets.
    If you are used to playing jazz and improvising solos writing a song is very similar thought process. there are endless patterns to practice and endless scale/chord relationships that work. Writing a good tune can just be putting in a lot of work.

    and one final tidbit, don't be afraid to leave space.
  6. Marc Piane

    Marc Piane

    Jun 14, 2004
    For me it all starts with the melody. Usually I will hear snippets of ideas all day long. I carry around a piece of manuscript paper everywhere and I often will use the record feature on my phone. If I get an idea I either write it down or sing it into my phone. I also do writing sessions at the piano.

    I don't worry about conventions. I am a college educated musician that has been playing for 15+ years so I just trust that 'jazz' is part of my psyche and will make it into my writing.

    Below is a link to a record I put out last year with all my original tunes. I have a record of some string quartets coming out later this year.


Share This Page

  1. This site uses cookies to help personalise content, tailor your experience and to keep you logged in if you register.
    By continuing to use this site, you are consenting to our use of cookies.