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Inexperienced band stuck on writing

Discussion in 'General Instruction [BG]' started by AddSomeRiddim, Dec 11, 2011.

  1. AddSomeRiddim


    Sep 23, 2011
    I'm sure that this question has been bled dry on the internet but I cant find any directly helpful threads.

    So as the title suggests I'm in a band with some friends and we are not too sure on how to write our own material.
    We play covers pretty well and have a basic knowledge of music but more recently we've become bored of "copying" other bands so we thought we'd have a crack at writing our own stuff. Thing is none of us has any proper music writing experience :meh: So we aren't too sure on how to approach this; jamming, composing by ourselves......

    I understand that it the writing process varies band to band but I was just wondering what the options were to hopefully get the juices flowing. Any help is appreciated, especially how you all go about writing songs.

    Thanks for any help in advance
  2. In a nut shell........ some start with the melody others start with the story. Somewhere between the story and the melody the following things must fit together. The melody notes and the chord notes should share some like notes, I find it easier to get harmonization for the melody line and the chord line if I start with the lyrics and verse format then bring in the chord progression and get the melody notes from the chord's notes. Up to you where and when you put everything in.

    1. Pick a key. The one the vocalist sings in. That gets you a starting place.

    2. The story. Four line verse, rhyme or not up to you. You will need three verses and one chorus. First verse brings up a thought in the first two lines and completes a full chord progression, i.e. I IV V7 I or what ever one you like. Next two lines discuss this thought and bring it to a close. Using the same I IV V7 I progression. You have two V-I cadences per verse. Next verse brings up a new thought - related, but something new. Same format and same progression. Chorus is the hook, what you want them remembering about the song, what they whistle tomorrow. OK three verses and one chorus - no need to get fancy here it's a first draft, use the same progression for all verses and the chorus, you can flesh it out later. Look at the format the songs you are now playing is using. Use the same format.

    3. OK you have the lyrics and the chords. Move the chords up or back in the verse to fit with the words. V7 is the climax chord and should be near the end of the 2nd and 4th line in the verse (do your lyrics reach a climax at this place - they should) and the 2nd and 4th line should end with the I tonic chord. For a first draft, start with the I and near the end of the first line bring in the IV, the IV continues into the 2nd line and takes you to the climax V7 just before the end of the 2nd line. Remember its a first draft you need the I IV V7 I progression to move the story along in the verse, and you need the chord notes and melody notes to share notes with each other. It's a balancing act. If it was easy everyone would be a song writer. You can bring in the harmonizing note as an extension, sus note, whatever, and that will leave your movement from I rest to tension IV to climax V7 then to resolution I intact.

    4. Melody next. The melody notes and the chord notes to harmonize will have to share some of the same notes. One is enough, two are better, three probably are not necessary. First time out of the chute use the chord's pentatonic notes which will give you three chord trones for harmonization and two safe passing notes for color. Then think about four note phrases and pauses. String of notes is noise, leave space for the melody to breath. If you wrote the lyrics first this is not all that hard. I know you are asking; "But which notes?" the ones that sound good with the lyrics. Move to your keyboard for the melody, much easier than composing on a fretboard. Need not be an expensive one.

    5. That will get you a lead sheet. Lyrics, chords and treble clef. You still need the bass clef. Give the lead sheet to your bassist and let him put in the bass line. If that is you - you may want to use the cord tones instead of the chord's pentatonic for your melody. I like the pentatonic, however if all you do is run the notes in chord tone or pentatonic order that's not a melody, that's an exercise. I found this helpful. Exercises in Melody-writing: A Systematic Course of Melodic Composition ... : Percy Goetschius : Free Download & Streaming : Internet Archive The book is 135 pages long, the first 30 pages will give you an idea of what you need to be thinking about.

    That's a first draft, go flesh it out with the rest of the band.

    Have fun.
  3. hrodbert696

    hrodbert696 Moderator Staff Member Supporting Member

    I have a bit of a problem with the question. In my experience, there are two kinds of people who talk about writing: there are people who have something they want to write, and then there are people who want to be writers. Two completely different things. The first kind have a story in mind and it's just a matter of getting it down, and it helps them to learn some things about plot development, characterization, etc., to help them get it all structured. The second type, though, has no story in mind; they just think that the whole "writer" thing is cool and they want to join the club. These are the people who ask questions like "where do you get ideas from?"

    That's based on fiction writing, but it applies to music too - people who want to play music vs. people who want to be rock stars.

    So my question back to the OP is, which are you? Do you have a kind of music that you are trying to create, a song in your head, and you're asking for guidance about how to execute it? Or are you just resorting to composing because you're sick of covers?
  4. wrench45us


    Aug 26, 2011
    in my experience, most songs start out from hours of mindless noodling on some instrument or other and coming across something (riff or chord change) that perks ones interest and building from there.

    I know a lot of home studio hobbyists who can put together 4 bars, but have trouble building a song from there (which is where theory helps a lot)
    my suggestion steal from the best -- a good chord progresion can support countless melodies
  5. mambo4


    Jun 9, 2006
    In my experience, the best songs started with a strong vocal melody first, next finding chords that support the melody(keys & guitars), and ended with a rhythm (bass and drums) that supports both of those.

    Not to say you can't arrive at a good song other ways. But a melody that stands on its own ...well, stands on its own.
  6. bassinplace


    Dec 1, 2008
    In my experience, every project I've been involved with individuals just bring in their song ideas and the band fleshes it out. Sometimes it's a complete song (guitar and/or vox), sometimes it's a riff or two or three and everyone adds thier bit and voila! New song! Just gotta jump in and do it! The more you do, the easier it gets.

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