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songs - they like simplistic, I don't

Discussion in 'Band Management [BG]' started by rosanne, Apr 28, 2010.


  1. rosanne

    rosanne

    Sep 30, 2004
    SF Bay Area
    Three of us in my band write songs. I'm the most prolific writer but also the one who gets turned down the most. Lately I've found that if I write a song that is very simple then the guys will really like it. If it's derivative they'll like it even more. :confused:

    Personally I like songs that can have more than one meaning. I like songs that have more than three chords and that don't sound like something I've heard a million times before. Something that maybe is not in the key of A. (No offense meant to those who like to write in A, but one of our members wants to do almost every song in that key.)

    Mainly I like songs that have some originality while still being accessible. I wish my band was just a little a little more adventurous.

    What has been your experience bringing songs to your band?
     
  2. WhoSeyes

    WhoSeyes

    Aug 18, 2008
    Barcelona.
    I have had bad times tryin to convince my band mates to do my compositions. At the end, we tend to build our songs on the riffs and chord progressions that the guitar player brings to rehearsals.

    I really like his songs, don't missunderstand me, but I really like my songs too, and we've barely done one of those.

    Sometimes is not just a "like or dislike" matter, I think. In my oppinion, I am not as good "selling" my songs as the guitar player is: he is very convincing, I am not, so we end working on his stuff instead of mine.

    Since I'm not going to improve my convincig skills any soon, the sollution I've found is to work in a solo project as I still work with my band...

    Good luck, anyway.
     
  3. bobwhite

    bobwhite

    Mar 11, 2010
    That is why so many band players do solo albums....;)

    You are really selling, so present the song in such a way that you can sell it. If the band likes to hear a recording, do a demo; sheet, do sheet; etc. Ask for advice from them and let them help you on a few parts so they are invested with it. You also may need to tailor parts to the strengths of your bandmates.

    Use your imgination, but learn to sell the song to your bandmates.
     
  4. dpbass613

    dpbass613

    Feb 21, 2009
    side projects...be there bass player, explain to them that you will happily play their songs but that you aren't fulfilled and can be the bass player in their band, as long as you continue to enjoy this, and then you start your own project. I have done this with two bands i played in, was dedicating all my time to two bands that didn't care to write my original music, so i started me own thing, but am still playing bass with the other groups.
     
  5. EddiePlaysBass

    EddiePlaysBass

    Feb 26, 2009
    Belgium
    Maybe the songs you write do not fit with the overal direction and style of the band, in their opinion? Or maybe they simply don't like your material. I am a coverband bassist, so I don't have these issues, but I know from a bassist friend who plays originals, that one of their guitar players always brings in stuff that the rest of the band never likes, and therefore said songs usually don't make the final cut.

    Please note: I haven't heard your or any of your band's songs, so I'm not implying anything about your ability as a songwriter :) Just offering my two cents.
     
  6. rosanne

    rosanne

    Sep 30, 2004
    SF Bay Area
    It's not that we don't do any of my songs. We do several. It's that the two songs they really really like are songs I feel almost ashamed of, because I feel that musically they are totally unoriginal. The first one I held back for over a year because it's so ordinary. But they love it and say "it's you're best one yet"! ???

    The one I brought to them last night was also another totally ordinary song. The only originality is in the lyrics. But yeah, they like that one a lot too.

    So we do have different tastes. And if I want to make them happy I guess I'll have to keep on this simplistic track. But it's unfulfilling.

    Many of you have suggested a side project as the solution. You are probably right, but I don't feel very confident in starting one.

    I usually don't bring in lead sheets so maybe I'll try that. Maybe it will help with what they call "the hard parts". (Is a shift that was from E to B minor which changes to E to F# minor hard??? - it's a lead in to the chorus) Maybe I don't realize what's hard to a guitarist???
     
  7. robthegaff

    robthegaff

    Nov 29, 2009
    Ireland
    ^^ That sounds like a pretty regular variation to me.. Mind if I ask what genre you're playing?
     
  8. rosanne

    rosanne

    Sep 30, 2004
    SF Bay Area
    That's the way I see it too. It's a straight ahead rock band. Guitarist contributes mostly 3 chord songs (sometimes bordering on punk but not punk) and occasionally some rockabilly. Key's songs tend to be dark, with more chords, but usually with only verses, no chorus, no bridge.
     
  9. robthegaff

    robthegaff

    Nov 29, 2009
    Ireland
    Yeah sounds like a side project job to me, easier than changing people's idea of good music.. The Drummer and myself in the alt/pop band are putting together a soul/funk band but it's really hard to find the time for side project. I wasn't fully satisfied by the music with the band but having a side-project let's me take on the role of the bassist the band needs, where I can be the bassist I want to be another time. I hope it works out.
     
  10. rosanne

    rosanne

    Sep 30, 2004
    SF Bay Area
    Thanks. I posted here first of all because I needed to rant a little about my situation.

    There is a lot of stuff this band does that I don't like, but I'll live with it. BTW a soul funk band sounds like heaven!
     
  11. My band is very similar. We play powerpop and every single one of our songs is the same riff. I've found that the only way for me to get people to listen to my songs is to have them completely written with chord sheets available. You have to make them understand that it's your band too and you deserve to have some of your music played.
     
  12. rosanne

    rosanne

    Sep 30, 2004
    SF Bay Area
    Sorry to hear you are in the same kind of band! However, I'm kind of glad to know I'm not the only one.....

    With those songs using the same riff, how are you varying them? I grit my teeth and try my best to have unique bass lines for each one but it's hard when they are sooooo similar!
     
  13. mmjazzbass

    mmjazzbass

    Jan 24, 2010
    every time i write horn parts for my band, the leader will turn them down. And on the rare occasions where he offers constructive criticism, it's really cryptic and meaningless and even after I attempt to follow it he'll still throw the parts out. I think it's just an issue of him being overcontrolling of what he sees as "his" band. This makes it so that he insists on coming up with all the horn parts, which is a problem because he can't read or write music, which limits our horn melodies to really simple derivative stuff that has to be taught by ear to our trumpet player and trombonist at the expense of practice time.
     
  14. maxiegrant

    maxiegrant Bassist in Transition

    Nov 26, 2007
    Sellersburg, IN
    I left a band over this kind of behavior. The reason it rankled me was because even though my songs weren't "good" enough for the band, it seemed that bits of my lyrics were often good enough to be stolen for the other players' songs. I was writing more involved compositions at the time (this was 1988) and they wanted to sound like REM, which they did. Which got under my guitar player's skin every time I mentioned it. I would often hum the REM tune I thought he was aping as we were getting ready to play his song.

    In reply to the OP: I am in an almost opposite situation. I now write mostly very simple songs because we aren't professionals, we are hobbyists and we have full-time jobs (at least we did until my drummer retired) and we can only practice 2-3 hours a week. I try to structure things so we can learn them quickly and still have fun, and I leave lots of room for the songs to evolve as we practice and perform them.

    However, we do occassionally manage to pull off a few pretty complex tunes. I have been with my drummer for 10 years now so he and I practically mind-meld when we're coming up with the rhythm part. I do all the singing and lyric writing, and I used to bring complete mastered demos to the band to teach them the songs. I have lately begun bringing them very sparse arrangements, often without a recording of any kind, and putting them on the spot to come up with their own parts. This is working out very well because I feel like the other two guys are emotionally invested in helping me finish the song, and it is more of a collaborative effort. I enjoy being the bandleader but I also want it to be more than "Max's band." So I make the other guys get involved and they are developing (and we are developing) very nicely into a more cohesive group as a result.
     
  15. hrodbert696

    hrodbert696 Moderator Staff Member Supporting Member

    +1 on the side project idea. What this sounds like to me is different ideas about what constitutes a "good" song. If they like simpler songs, it probably means that they're more accessible, = easier to dance to, which audiences like (or easier to emotionally tap, if they're slow songs). What you're looking for in a "good" song is originality and complexity. This band sounds like it's just not the framework for that. Not a reason to quit, just get some more like-minded people to get together and work on your more complex stuff.
     
  16. Dark Horse

    Dark Horse

    Jul 31, 2008
    Austin, TX

    The song I wrote that I was "most ashamed of" and tried to drop was the song that made it into the Billboard Top 30.

    People like simple, catchy, familiar songs. The general public doesn't like to hear complex chord and rhythmic changes - they want a catchy chorus (and a LOT of them !)

    There's a reason that your band mates like the simpler songs you write - and it's the same reason that the general public will be more "in tune" with those songs.

    Of course you have to be happy with your music, but for the most part, success is easier to achieve by taking the straightest, most direct...and often simplest....route.

    Something to keep in mind when you are setting your "goals" in music.
     
  17. rosanne

    rosanne

    Sep 30, 2004
    SF Bay Area
    Thanks Dark Horse, you've given me more than one thing to think about here...
     
  18. Dark Horse

    Dark Horse

    Jul 31, 2008
    Austin, TX


    It's always best to do what YOU want, but it is good to have all the info too.

    I absolutely hated that song, but I still get paychecks (albeit smaller than they used to be) from it 9 years later.

    ;)
     
  19. rosanne

    rosanne

    Sep 30, 2004
    SF Bay Area
    I'm not hating these two songs but I'd sure hate to admit I wrote them.

    "Success" in a big way is not one of my goals b/c I'm very old. But what you said about what people like to hear is important. The kind of song I like to write/play is not so very far out there but it's sure further than guitar or keys want to go.

    I think for now it's going to be a case of writing both kinds. I have to adhere to my own musical vision somehow, or else I'd be miserable. But I can produce very simple stuff too I guess.

    The thing is that I don't intentionally try to write one way or the other. They just turn out the way they turn out. One thing I have done is "dumb down" songs for the band. I don't like this AT ALL, but in at least one case it's the only way I can get it played.
     
  20. FunkMetalBass

    FunkMetalBass

    Aug 5, 2005
    Phoenix, Arizona 85029
    Endorsing Artist: J.C. Basses
    Explain to them that you're the bassist. In return for standing in the back and looking worthless on stage, you write all the music.

    That's how all of the great bands did it.
     

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