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lyrics first or music first?

Discussion in 'Miscellaneous [BG]' started by king_truffle, Sep 13, 2002.

  1. king_truffle


    Apr 4, 2001
    Oshkosh WI
    Hey gang. Well, I've been recruited by one of my friends to write music for his project. My question for you all is this, what do you write first, music or lyrics? Any help would be appreciated. Thanks gang.
  2. MorganM


    Dec 11, 1999
    I think that lyrics should almost always be written first. This allows you to write the music to fit the lyrics.

    But then there are times when you have to do a little modding on the lyrics to fit a certain part of music.

    So for the most part I write the lyrics first and sometime work a little backwards on the lyrics when writing the music.
  3. Boplicity

    Boplicity Supporting Member

    I have a few books on lyric writing. At least one of those say it is generally easier to put lyrics to music than to create music for lyrics.

    That said, this topic does come up here a couple times a year and I have seen posts that come down in favor of one and an equal number favor the other. Thus, there is no real consensus here at TalkBass as to which way is correct or superior.

    My advice would be to do what works best for your particular band and style of music. Some lyricists are inspired by a phrase they hear someone say or by a situation that they want to write about. Some phrases allmost tell you what music can accompany it. The reverse is also true...some music just seems to dicate the words.

    Why don't you try both ways and see what works easiest for your band? The one original band I played in wrote the music first, then tried to work out lyrics to fit the music. We never did it the other way around. That worked well for our nu-metal band, but might not work for your band.
  4. jazzbo


    Aug 25, 2000
    San Francisco, CA
    I think writing the music first is easy. Lyrics can be adapted and changed to fit the structure more easily. You would have to have great skill in meter and composition to do it the other way around and have as good a fit.
  5. Joe Nerve

    Joe Nerve Supporting Member

    Oct 7, 2000
    New York City
    Endorsing artist: Musicman basses
    I'm with jazzbo on this one, even if he thinks I can't play and I'm good for nothing....

    I rarely write the lyrics first. Only way I think that really happens is if I start singing a melody. Then I can try to mold a song around it.

    My mood usually dictates the groundwork for a song, and when the basic structure is there then a melody almost always seems to flow from that. Lyrics seem much easier to drop into place as the last thing. Writing the lyrics first and coming up with the music to match doesn't come as easily for me. Things tend to sound a little more forced like that.

    I think it may come down to whether you're a better musician or a better lyric writer - my guess being that a better musician would want to come up witht he music first, and a better writer - lyrics first. Or more simply put, which ever seems like less work I think people would want to do first.
  6. CS


    Dec 11, 1999
    I think that to make one the the other you have to be flexible. I write music and lyrics first and make the other one fit. Sometimes you change little bits. Sometimes I write a chorus words and music in one go then take a year to get the rest. Sometimes I write a song, dump it and use the intro for something else.

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