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Song Length

Discussion in 'Ask Steve Lawson & Michael Manring' started by stephanie, Jun 15, 2001.


  1. stephanie

    stephanie

    Nov 14, 2000
    Scranton, PA
    Hi Steve,

    I've been working hard on what I consider to be my first actual solo bass song. I feel it's almost complete.

    However it's awfully short...only reaching about 2 minutes.

    I don't know if this is a silly question or not but is it ok for a (solo) song to be this short? I'm afraid if I change things around to make it longer that I'll ruin it. Is there anything I can do to add to the song without damaging what I already have?

    Any suggestions would be helpful. I'm quite proud of this song. :)

    Thanks,

    ~Stephanie
     
  2. Josh Ryan

    Josh Ryan - that dog won't hunt, Monsignor. Staff Member Supporting Member

    Mar 24, 2001
    I know you asked Steve, but, the opinion of this random person is that if the song is done at two minutes, it is done and changing it would probably be a mistake. Good Luck!! Post an mp3!!
     
  3. Steve Lawson

    Steve Lawson Solo Bass Exploration! Supporting Member

    Apr 21, 2000
    Birmingham, UK
    Steph,

    there's no reason on earth why a piece of music has to be a set length. If it is 'complete' after 30 seconds, that's cool - if it sounds like something needs repeating or developing, try it. If it isn't improved, then stick with it as it is. Quality is much more important than quantity. 2 minutes is still pretty long to sustain a solo piece, so you're doing really well already.

    Go Girl!!!!!!

    Steve
    www.steve-lawson.co.uk
     
  4. stephanie

    stephanie

    Nov 14, 2000
    Scranton, PA
    Thanks guys!

    Yeah, the reason why I was wondering was that I really didn't want to add more at the end to make it longer. I tend to not be able to make endings for songs (I realized this on some acoustic 6-strings pieces I've written) and the song would just go on forever. And for the first time I've written an ending I like. I have an alternate ending as well (just in case) that sounds good too.

    There is a part in the song that does repeat, though it's changed just a tiny bit...kind of the beginning meets the end. LOL

    I recorded all that I've written on tape so I'm gonna go back to today and have a listen. I guess there's little things I can add maybe to give it a little more flavor (is that what you call a 'fill' btw?), but, yeah, I would hate to ruin it by adding more.

    Thanks again for all your help Steve. :)

    Cheers,

    ~Stephanie
     
  5. Steve Lawson

    Steve Lawson Solo Bass Exploration! Supporting Member

    Apr 21, 2000
    Birmingham, UK
    Hi Steph,

    there are a lot of elements that go into a composition, even more if you are the one performing it...

    firstly, there's the initial idea - that little seed that sparks the rest of the tune. It might be a melody, a chord, a couple of chords, a who progression, even a drum groove. For solo bass, it's often a little melodic figure that is easy to harmonise at the same time, or a couple of chords where the top note in each chord forms a melodic line.

    Then there's the development of the idea - a great idea can be ruined by 'over developing', or moving on too fast from the initial idea. There are so many ways that a tune can develop - repetition, changing one part (phrasing, changing the octave, inverting the tune, reharmonising, keeping the chords and changing the melody, stretching it out or writing an 'answering' line for your initial idea)

    Then (or perhaps before that, but for me it normally comes here) there are all the considerations about the form of the tune - is it going to be a verse/chorus alternating idea? will it just repeat and vary? will it be 'through composed', that is, will it just grow and change without much repetition, or will it be a minature, and stay as it is? Deciding on form will have a huge effect on how you write.

    At each stage, think about the key that the piece is in - try changing it and see what the effect is? are there more or less open strings available? are there more harmonics available? I tend to write in the keys that allow me to use harmonics and open strings, just to save retuning or buying loads of hipshots like Michael Manring! :oops:)

    Once you've got an idea, it's worth trying it in different rhyhmic combinations - what happens if you 'swing' it? what about trying to rephrase it in 3/4, 5/4, 6/8, 9/8? sometimes a melody that you're struggling with can come to life like that. what about playing it completely free rhythmically? music doesn't have to groove, even on a bass!

    then there are the performance considerations - intro, ending, sound, seating postion, effects etc.

    there's no set order to these things - for me, sound is often the first consideration and the piece springs from that. other times, I'll change it at the end and breath new life into a dull tune.

    take it slow - these aren't rules, just areas to consider. Enjoy it, you're in charge, you make your own rules, you write what feels good, what sounds right to you and have fun doing it - it's not a competition, it's not about being 'the best' or the cleverest/fastest/trickiest/funkiest - all that is BS. It's all about being you, playing what's inside you. If that's two notes, play them like you mean them. If that's mad fast slap stuff, play it like you mean it. If you play for applause, that's all you'll get...

    relax and enjoy

    Steve
    www.steve-lawson.co.uk