Originals- how do you present songs to your band?

Discussion in 'Band Management [BG]' started by Waster, Nov 25, 2012.

  1. Waster


    Nov 24, 2011
    Hey TB,

    If you write for or play in an originals band, how do you present a new song to the band? Will it be a finished song, a riff, a verse and a chorus? I'm interested to see how others do this as I am writing for a new alt-rock project, and I'm unsure how finished the songs should be before bringing them to practice.

    I look forward to replies!

  2. pklima


    May 2, 2003
    Kraków, Polska
    Depends on what the band members like. Some people will want to be involved in the creative process, others (like me) are bored to death by that and would rather have complete songs (lyrics, vocal melody, structure and chord progressions) and just fill in a bass part. Some bands will want complete arrangements with full charts, but that's probably pretty rare unless you have a horn section, LOL.
  3. 80jazz


    Jun 28, 2008
    I usually have the entire song ready to go and then show it. Sometimes modifications get made.
  4. It depends on how good a song writer you are. I usually record a rough demo with the basic chords, melody and (some) lyrics. I'm always open to suggestions and happy to make changes, but then I'm not the world's greatest song writer.
  5. bluewine

    bluewine Banned

    Sep 4, 2008
    Were you asked to write and contribute your music to the band?

    Remember what happened to Mark Walberg in the movie " Rock Star".

  6. Kmonk


    Oct 18, 2012
    South Shore, Massachusetts
    Endorsing Artist: Fender, Spector, Ampeg, Curt Mangan Strings
    I do the same thing. Rough demo with chords, lyrics, tempo and then everyone develops their parts based on what I give them. I do the same when they give me a new song. Everyone in the band writes and we each have the same approach.
  7. In my band, we used to write song 2 different ways. Either somebody would come in with a riff or a couple parts, and we'd work together to develop a song out of it. Or maybe one or more of the members would write a song on their own and bring it to the rest of the band.

    Most of the time, myself and our 2 guitarist (lead and rhythm) would at least try to develop the music together before presenting it to the lead singer, who would then either write complete lyrics, or at least compose some semblance to a melody. Or he might say "I really like this, but I need a bridge here, or I need to make this verse 8 bars instead of 4", something like that. Singer was not a good guitar player at all, so he mostly just stuck to singing.

    THEN, we'd present it to the drummer. He was always the hardest to please with originals. He didn't like them unless he had some sort of fill, solo, or other complex drum part. We ended up altering a lot of the songs just to keep the drummer entertained. If the song wasn't complete and good the first time, he hated it. There was no working on things with him. Kind of understanding more about why we broke up!
  8. Jazzdogg

    Jazzdogg Less barking, more wagging!

    Jul 29, 2006
    San Diego, CA
    A basic chart using so-called Nashville notation.

    Sometimes it's helpful to play a recording of a certain song that has a similar feel. Most of the time it suffices to describe the song using words, e.g., rhythm section syncopation similar to Tower of Power; vocal harmonies similar to Steely Dan; gentle Bossa Nova-style pulse like Sergio Mendez; electric guitar like Carlos Santana...

    Yes, I'm old. ;)
  9. Waster


    Nov 24, 2011
    Thanks all for your responses! Some very interesting information there.

  10. Waster


    Nov 24, 2011
    I haven't seen that movie, but this is partially my band; I co-founded it with the singer, who wouldn't even call himself a songwriter, and who I wrote lyrics for previously. The guitarist hasn't been playing long, and, though a talented guitarist, only has a basic knowledge of theory. The drummer can only play drums.

    So yes, it is expected that I will write and contribute my music to this band.

    Actually now that I think of it, the guitarist has been playing longer than I have been playing bass :S Although I played guitar before that haha
  11. Well my band just has me on bass, a female singer & a drummer
    ...so I write all the music and usually just just show them the songs in rehearsal. Sometimes I'll make a recording if there is a particular vibe i want the drums to have, but I find the organic approach to song writing to be the best.

    Just take what you have to rehearsal and if you have a good working relationship with your band the songs should come together almost on their own.
  12. ...oh yeah I don't write lyrics, as I'm pretty **** at it.
    The one time I did the singer just said that I should sing that song, so now when we play it I sing and she just dances and plays cow bell in parts. LOL
  13. just lay down a nice bass riff when you are tuning up and ask if anyone can do anything with that?....lol thats the easiest way
  14. bassbully

    bassbully Endorsed by The PHALEX CORN BASS..mmm...corn!

    Sep 7, 2006
    Blimp City USA
    Our writers bring the songs roughed out with chord sheets. The band then goes over them and writes their lines using the chord sheets as a guide are free to change anything. We then play it and discuss. We repeat till the song is good ..to us.
  15. Since you're the main song writer, and you play guitar, your best bet is to record a basic demo with the chords and the melody (even if you just hum it). That will save a lot of time as the band will have a fair idea of what you're trying to do. I think that's better than just playing a bass line, for example (unless that's all you have).
  16. bluewine

    bluewine Banned

    Sep 4, 2008
    Then I think you should present a completely finished and arranged demo and get the band to buy in.

  17. P-oddz

    P-oddz Supporting Member

    Apr 7, 2009
    Milwaukee, WI
    Depends on the song for me.
    If I have a run or two I've put together, I usually just bring a rough recording done to a rudimentary kick/snare beat to help convey the feeling I have behind it. I may layer a guitar or two if it is integral to the idea (vice versa if I write a guitar line I may or may not record a bass line to it as well, since that may or may not change by what the drummer hears out of it).

    Personally for me, I've found it better to not overdevelop ideas, because the rest of the guys (in my experience) may take my ideas too literal. I can't write drum parts like my drummer, and I can't play guitar like my guitarists, so if I don't box them up into a rigid form, it seems they feed off of the idea as opposed to not feeling my particular style and start to develop their own style to it - making it a "band idea" as opposed to "my song". Admittedly in my case, everyone in the band are solid songwriters in their own rights, so YMMV depending on your band members' talents and want for writing.
  18. JimmyM


    Apr 11, 2005
    Apopka, FL
    Endorsing: Ampeg Amps, EMG Pickups
    Doesn't matter how you present it. Just present it.
  19. Bassist4Eris

    Bassist4Eris Frat-Pack Sympathizer

    Aug 11, 2012
    Upstate NY, USA
    I write and play mainly instrumentals, so lyrics are not a factor. I prefer not to demo, for many of the same reasons as P-oddz.

    To get the band interested, I find it necessary to have at least 2 or 3 different sections written, and some kind of preliminary structure, but I don't like to hammer out too many of the details before I can turn the band loose on it.

    I typically provide the guitarist with a lead sheet, showing the melody in standard notation, with chords written over the top. Often only one section will have a written melody, and the rest of the sections are just chords. He may contribute melodies to some of the other sections if he's inspired to do so. Because my tunes are usually built from the bass up, there's often quite a bit of melody in the bass parts alone.

    I also play in his instrumental band. For that band, he usually brings in just his guitar parts, and leaves the bass and drums to me and the drummer. I have also written tunes for that band, and the distinction between the two bands is becoming less about who writes the tunes, and more about genre (bluesy/funky stuff vs. mathy post rock).

    Both bands are also becoming increasingly collaborative. In one interesting recent bit of serendipity, I had a bass groove I was working on, which I had a melody to go with. But he had a new melody he was working on that fit my groove perfectly, and was a way better melody than mine. That's become one of our best songs.

    My absolute preferred method for dealing with the drums is to simply play the bass line and see what he does. It's not that I don't have any ideas, I just usually end up liking what he does better. My drummer is experienced and knowledgable, and usually has a better idea of the appropriate part than I do. If he doesn't hit on anything that stokes me, I'll sing a drum part to him, or suggest a certain feel.
  20. jungleheat

    jungleheat Banned

    Jun 19, 2011
    There is no right or wrong answer. THere are as many different methods as there are bands, and indeed, songs.

    There are different benefits and drawbacks to any method, and it will depend on the group in question, the type of song, and the skills of the originator and other members what might work best in a given situation.

    My primary band is funky, fusiony prog/jam stuff (instrumental so far). We could literally show up at a gig, start playing, go for 45 minutes off the cuff (probably in 2 or 3 smaller chunks), and call it a set. It might not be perfect (ie there might be a few off notes, etc...), but it would be fairly musical, with a good sense of movement to keep things from getting boring. So for practices, we usually start out with a jam or 2 for 30-40 minutes. We record these. Then we go back later and pick out good sections to build into more complete pieces. When we do that, we'll play the section for a while, while each of us develops our part, massaging the whole thing until we're happy with it. Then we usually explore until one of us finds a promising direction for the next bit (or we use something from the jams), and we repeat.

    But the 3 of us besides the drummer are all capable of bringing in more or less "complete" songs (with other instruments filled in) to the band, which also happens occasionally. In these cases, usually the originator will present either their part, or a rough demo to the band, and the band will develop it, to the extent of reharmonizing parts, changing instrument parts altogether, or even adding/subtracting sections. So the end result is generally pretty different (and better) than the initial demo, because we all tend to have pretty good ideas and feed off each other.

    In another band, we do more pop/rock kind of stuff (I play keys). The singer and the bassist (who is also decent with guitar and keys), wrote all the songs for our first album that we're currently finishing up. So there were more or less "complete" demos/recordings of all the songs already when the rest of the band joined (guitarist, drummer, and myself). But since the full lineup was put in place, more and more of the original demo parts have been overlaid/replaced with fresh parts from the 3 of us. So most of the programmed drums have been replaced with real drums (we're a bit on the electronic side, so some of them stayed for texture). Almost all of the guitar layers have been rerecorded with nearly identical parts (some slightly tweaked) with far superior tones, helped by an influx of my gear and the guitarist's gear. And 90% of the keyboard parts have been rerecorded by me, mostly with my gear, with some parts being somewhat rewritten, not even necessarily because they were bad, but because of the idiosyncratic nature of sequenced parts, would have been difficult or impossible to recreate (either live or in the studio). Some of the parts were re-done simply by running the sequenced MIDI track out to a new piece of gear with a different (better) tone.

    As such, while the demos sound very "demo-ey" and kind of dingy and small and bedroom quality, the current iterations sound really really good. Obviously this is helped by having real drums recorded in a nice studio (all/most current vocals were also done there), but basically everything else we did was here at the house (singer and I live in the same house, and the bassist brought over his ProTools rig and some guitars and synths to use while we work on the album). We didn't even worry too much about treating the rooms where we recorded or anything, and we would just track on the other side of the house from the recording computer, and just use headphones for monitoring when we had open mics (switch to studio monitors for playback and for keyboard recording).

    So just having those 3 other people's input made a HUGE difference on the output. TBH, when I joined the band, the few demos I heard weren't that great, but I was referred to the band by a mutual friend and was looking for an opportunity to play keys, so I joined anyway, and now everything is sounding MUCH better because of the influx of a more collaborative process.

    Then again, some bands function best with a "mastermind" who writes everything with very specific parts for each player (with them making maybe only minor tweaks if that). I'm in another band that's more or less like that, except I get to basically come up with my own key parts, usually from vague prompts like "more spooky"). So you really just have to find what works best for you and your band, which might not always be the same from song to song.