Songwriting ethos

Discussion in 'Miscellaneous [BG]' started by Cambass, Jun 9, 2001.

  1. I recently met up with a guy who is a guitarist/songwriter and we got talking about writing songs. He explained that you don't really need to write songs, you can just take chord progressions and put another melody on top of it. Some time on from this we both met up with another songwriter (of which nothing eventuated) and he sort of said the same thing and pointed out some songs by Oasis and even Radiohead that were basically Beatles songs just played in another key (they're both Oasis freaks). To be honest I was a bit shocked, not having written too many songs myself, I'm not an expert, but to find out that even huge bands sometimes do this was dissapointing.

    Does anyone else do this, is this common? I don't particularly agree with this method, sure it's takes talent to write a good catchy melody but if you're just copying the structure of someone elses song then to me that's cheating in a way. What does everyone else think?
  2. Orco87


    Mar 26, 2000
    I guess it's cheating.....and it's smart too. It takes talent to do that, and then it doesn't take much talent to copy someone else's stuff and "change" a few things. Oh well....that's what I think. :)
  3. To me song writing is from inside. It is a representation of mood and feeling in sound. Sure it takes a talent to re-model a melody, but what happens to the satisfaction of knowing that the song one has written is personalised? A personal song goes far deeper than just lyrics, the music in itself adds all different dimensions and interpretations of the song.

    That is why i am against pop in some sense. Like these singers and groups who say in interviews "Oh so-and-so is a really good songwriter, he wrote all our songs". That is a cop out, why not do your own stuff? Put in the hard yards! Sure they may be making money etc, but i get more enjoyment out of writing something, of dredging it up and letting people hear where it is i am coming from.

  4. Blackbird

    Blackbird Moderator Staff Member Supporting Member

    Mar 18, 2000
    Well, Charlie Parker did that a lot. "Donna Lee" is just another melody on top of the chords of a tune called "Indiana" (I know, some will argue that the tune is by Miles Davis. I heard a recording of it with Parker & Davis and he didn't play it well enough to claim he wrote it. It's more bird's style anyway).

    Anyhoo, if all you take is the chords, you basically have a harmony. There are many factors that can be altered to create a completely different song, like tempo and Genre. I'm not a huge fan of Oasis or Radiohead, but I think the concept of the "great band" sorta went out with the eighties, so they don't disappoint me as I expect nothing from them. Back to the toopic, Charlie Parker could take chord progressions from other tunes and improvise over them, effectively creating new tunes. Then again, this was CHARLIE PARKER. He had nothing to prove. I also feel that if you've not shown you can deliver the goods, using other people's chords is a point against you.

  5. SuperDuck


    Sep 26, 2000
    I was just thinking, what if it's kinda like "Go with what work" ? For example, if someone hears the chord progressions in a Beatles song and really likes it, they'll be able to recognize that progression again. Non-musicians are able to recognize at the very least chord progressions through the intervals if not being able to tell that one is in a different key. So, then, I'm guessing that using a familiar progression would strike a "chord" ;) (oo that was bad) with the listener, building off their appreciation of the previous song.

    Or, if one is REALLY good, he or she will write a song that is orginal, and then others will copy THAT. After all, imitation is the greatest compliment. :D
  6. Interesting you should mention that because in my limited experience of writing songs or basslines etc, I sometimes write something that turns out to be from a song already written. For example, I was once playing around and came up with a bass line that is indentical to the chorus line in "Spirits in a Material World" by The Police. Some time later I heard this same line in the song and although I don't recall hearing the song before I think I must have, either that or it was a coincidence (which means I must be as talented as Sting :D :D :D)
  7. When I think about this, I think about Papa Roach's first hit. THey bassically stole the riff from a green day song. I still call it cheating, and I still dont listen to them
  8. i hate that, because when i write a song sometimes it will dawn on me that it's the same chord progression as a previously written song and i scrap the thing. i think maybe i'm too hard on myself in that regard, because to some extent everything's been done. all you can do is come up with different melodies and rhythmic variations.

    it has helped me come up with some very original material though, and i'm very proud of the music i've written.