How to write a really, REALLY unoriginal song?

Discussion in 'Bass Humor & Gig Stories [BG]' started by pklima, Jan 29, 2014.

  1. pklima


    May 2, 2003
    Kraków, Polska
    I'm serious, kinda. If you wanted to write the most generic song possible in a given genre, how would you go about it?

    I'd start by asking some questions about typical parameters - most common tempo, length, key, instrumentation, number of words, rhyme scheme, number of sections, number of different chord progressions, number of drum patterns. If I need a melody, I'd see if the melody should contain only chord tones or not. Stuff like that.

    I'd gather a bunch of data first, in other words. Then I'd try to make a structure using that data as parameters and structural blocks, and start filling the blocks in with the most common chord progression, most common drum pattern etc.

    This actually could be a lot of fun, especially if doing it for a genre you're not really familiar with. And you'd learn a lot.
  2. MonkeyBass


    Mar 22, 2009
    Denver, CO
    Listen to Katy Perry and Beiber. You'll hear unoriginality in all it's mediocre glory.

    Tempo: 120 BPM
    Length: 2:30
    Key: A "singer" key like G or F (seems to be the keys most singers I've played with like)
    Instrumentation: That depends on the genre.
    Rhyming scheme: Do near rhymes. Like rhyme "baby" with "today" and stuff like that.
    Song form: Verse, Chorus, Verse, Chorus, Bridge, Double Chorus fade...
    Chord progression: I, IV, V, I... or maybe I, IV, ii, V, I

    That seems to be what I've noticed from 90% of the swill that's out there.

    Of course I could be wrong.
  3. lfmn16

    lfmn16 Supporting Member

    Sep 21, 2011
    charles town, wv
    Correct. A few hours of listening to this should suck all the creativity from your soul. If you are still feeling a little creative, watch some American Idol reruns. Warning - this may cause permanent damage.
  4. Frank Tuesday

    Frank Tuesday

    Jul 11, 2008
    Austin, TX
    Start with the I-V-vi-IV chord progression.
  5. bassdude51

    bassdude51 Supporting Member

    Nov 1, 2008
    Central Ohio
    Umm, go with the 1-4-5 chord progression and go with lyrics about losing a girlfriend, your dog dying, you ain't go no money, The Man! or a serial killer and you'll have a song for the Blues, C&W, Rock, Pop, Rap and Metal.
  6. KablesP


    Oct 29, 2013
    If you really want to further your writing ability, learn 5-10 songs in the style you want to try to write in. Take what you like from those songs and create a song from similar patters, chords, progressions, etc. Just listening will not really help you because you are still going to play what you know how to play and just because you WANT to write a song like that doesn't mean it just pops out.

    I bet you would be surprised at how well written these songs are...
  7. ffutterman

    ffutterman Talentless Bass Enthusiast

    May 7, 2010
    Look up "The Hook" by Blues Traveler. The song itself is about writing completely bland and formulaic songs.
  8. Milk


    Sep 16, 2013
    Montreal, Canada
    My my.... most of my songs are around a 120 tempo (btween 115-130 anyway), most are around 3 minutes. As for the key..i wouldn't know since i don't even know that much theory (same for chord progression, i have no idea what I IV V I means) but i suspect it's likely a very typical one. Also, 4/4. Song form...traditional though i bother with an intro and outro normally. Otherwise verse chorus verse chorus bridge, sure.

    It bears mentioning i have a very pop oriented mind. (but more like 80's....)

    The thing is...i feel its perfectly possible to sorta adhere to the common parameters for songwriting and still write good worthwhile songs...i know all the bands i love pretty much did it (save some exceptions in their catalog.)
  9. Funk_Pirate


    Oct 6, 2012

    Freaking love that song :)
  10. MonkeyBass


    Mar 22, 2009
    Denver, CO
    A lot of great songs follow that formula. But it's also the pop song formula that almost everyone uses and therefore is pretty unoriginal as far as songwriting goes. Keep in mind, originality isn't always a good thing either. Yoko Ono is pretty original but I can only listen to about 10 seconds before I want to shoot myself.
  11. DiabolusInMusic

    DiabolusInMusic Functionless Art is Merely Tolerated Vandalism Supporting Member

    Don't get fancy, he wants un-original.

    I-IV-V in the key of G, you do not get more generic than that.
  12. adi77

    adi77 Banned

    Mar 15, 2007
    watch mtv
  13. bkbirge


    Jun 25, 2000
    Houston, TX
    Endorsing Artist: Steak n Shake
    There's nothing wrong with song analysis, it's our way of learning history. Gotta know it to avoid repeating it, though I'd say that's a lot easier said than done. Not much, if anything, new in music. Everything is based on earlier work and repackaged to some extent. There are many college courses and books you can find on Amazon that deal with this. But unless you write for a very targeted market, jingles, or arrange for media that demands certain "styles" you probably don't need to get very deep into it.
  14. ga_edwards


    Sep 8, 2000
    UK, Essex
    Reminds of 'Poppa's Blues' from Starlight Express:

    Oh the first line of the blues is always sung a second time.
    First line of the blues is always sung a second time.
    So by the time you get to the third line you've had time to think up a rhyme.

    Oh there ain't no law that says the third line has to be different at all.
    No, no, there ain't no law that says the third line has to be different at all.
    No there ain't no law that says the third line has to be different at all.

    Never borrow a mouth organ - not even from your best friend.
    No, no, no, never borrow a mouth organ - not even from your best friend.
    'Cos you may survive the blowing, but the sucking's gonna get you in the end. Oh yeah!
  15. Frank Tuesday

    Frank Tuesday

    Jul 11, 2008
    Austin, TX
    Fancy is as fancy does. I don't really know what that means, but I was referencing the chord progression made famous in this video.
  16. xUptheIronsx

    xUptheIronsx Conform or Be Cast Out....

    Feb 6, 2010
    C-ville, Col, Ohio
    I thought this experiment was exhibited last Sunday on the Grammy's....

    for me, you write the most bland music by turning on a computer....
  17. Gundecker


    Mar 29, 2013
    For a reference to bland in multiple styles done tongue In cheek, all on one album by the same artists, listen to The Turtles:Battle of the Bands! Original LP artwork is a plus.
  18. hrodbert696

    hrodbert696 Moderator Staff Member Supporting Member

    I'm pretty sure you start with the Axis of Awesome...

  19. MonetBass

    MonetBass ♪ Just listen ♫ Supporting Member

    Sep 15, 2006
    Tulsa, OK
    The interesting thing about that song is that it uses the same chord progression as Pachelbel's Canon in D, perhaps one of the most mind-numbingly repetitive pieces ever. (Ask any bassist or cellist who's had to suffer through playing it. I have!!)
    I-V-vi-iii-IV-I-IV-V, repeat ad nauseam. :meh:

    From a pop standpoint, I've seen a lot of vi-IV-I-V lately.
  20. Jazz Ad

    Jazz Ad Mi la ré sol Supporting Member

    Most stop at the 4 first chords of Pachelbel's progression.