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Songwriting with the Band

Discussion in 'General Instruction [BG]' started by metallicat, May 31, 2005.

  1. metallicat


    May 3, 2005
    is it just me or is songwriting with your band harder than you ever thought? does anybody have any good tips on songwriting with your band?
  2. thewanderer24


    Apr 29, 2002
    SJ, CA
    leave your egos at the door, listen, be brutally honest (but gentle), understand that you aren't always right, and above all else, listen.

    did i mention you need to listen?? I have found it much more productive writing with just one or two other band members than the whole crew at once. YMMV
  3. Tash


    Feb 13, 2005
    Bel Air Maryland
    Don't. Have everyone bring completed songs to practice, then jam on them and make suggestions and revisions.

    No one in my band hears any of my songs until they are more or less how I like them, then we make tweaks as everyone learns the parts. Of course I am also the only person in my band who writes songs. Others contribute parts, but I'm the only one who makes complete arrangements.

    I also second the "write with 1 or 2" idea. Writing in a large group sucks, but if just 2 people get together you can make a lot more progress in the same amount of time while still getting the feedback needed for good idea development.
  4. 43% burnt

    43% burnt an actor who wants to run the whole show

    May 4, 2004
    Bridgeport, CT
    Funny, I was thinking about posting a thread on the same subject.

    In the band I'm in now - it's extremely rare that we write decent songs on the fly at practice. With the exception of a couple songs, It never seems to work. It seems like the more we work it out first, the more productive our writing practices are. When we come with 2 riffs that were not to sure how they will work together it usually ends up being time wasted.

    90% of the writing is done by me and one of my guitar players. We try to complete songs as much as we can before presenting them to the rest of the band. If others use this approach, I'm curious how complete you get before showing it to the others?

    Lately I've been trying to come up with alternative parts in case it doesnt work. Or our drummer shoots it down...He has an troublesome habit of killing some ideas before we can work them out. Does anyone come up with alternate riffs before presenting song ideas?
  5. thewanderer24


    Apr 29, 2002
    SJ, CA
    Yeah, my band's songwriting usually consists of myself and my singer, with the guitar player kinda tagging along nodding his head.
  6. embellisher

    embellisher Holy Ghost filled Bass Player Supporting Member

    We write on our own too.

    My guitarist does about 60% of the writing, our vocalist does about 25%, and I do about 15%. Our drummer has contributed lyrics a couple of times, as have my wife and one of my guitarists friends.

    When one of us comes up with a song, we work out at least the chord progression and vocal melody before bringing it in to a jam.

    The guitarist will often have a song 90% finished before we jam it.

    After we jam a song a few times, the ideas for drum patterns, bass lines, and guitar riffs(if the guitarist didn't write the song) will come together, and we will have a finished song.

    I have never tried writing as a group. It seems to me that it would be pretty difficult.
  7. Ditto, we never seem to jam and then come up with things, it's always someone coming back with ideas (sometimes very rough) and then we sort things out and tweak etc.
  8. EricTheEZ1


    Nov 23, 2004
    Clawson, MI
    I guess I'm the opposite. Me and the drummer have similar tastes and we usually just jam around on ideas and things that we can really dig. After 5-10 minutes, we can review what parts of the jam sounded really good and what we could do to link this part to this part. This part can be the intro, the verse, the chorus, or whatever.

    The groove is the important part. The guitarist is the icing on the cake. The singer is the mainstream burden that we must bear in order for the norms to like a song.

  9. 43% burnt

    43% burnt an actor who wants to run the whole show

    May 4, 2004
    Bridgeport, CT
    that rules.
  10. Hmm... I seem to be the oddball here - We write our music together :eek: Either someone has some very basic ideas, chords, melodies, riffs etc or maybe a whole song, but it's when the band is together the songs really take their form. Mostly everyone find out their own part in the beginning, and then we try to fit it all together, which of course can be quite tiresome at times. At other times everything just works out very quickly. I agree it's probally not the most effective way of doing things, but our songs just turn out better if everyone have a say.

    Just to take some examples of some of our new songs. One simply came out of another song we thought needed a kind of middle part. Sounded too good to be just that, and we made it into one of out best songs. But it was hard, and took a lot of time getting it all together.
    Another one was a small song one of our singers who plays guitar too brought along. We used the original song as the start of the tune, and jammed something very different up the first night which turned out to be very good indeed, and actually made the core of the song.
    A very new one we're still working on was completely jammed up. We just start playing something, finding each other and after a while the singers starts fiddling with melodies, and slowly a song emerges.

    But I don't want this to sound too idyllic. We have problems finding the balance between the four of us. When somebody has his or hers parts ready it's important not to rush things and start moving on before everybody feels comfortable with the song and their parts. I myself tend to rush things and start talking of all kinds of things we could do, and what the others should play. No allways a good idea ;) I can see why a lot of bands try to avoid this by letting one or two persons do the writing, but the result of everybody contributing just gives our music 4 dimensions instead of just one or two.

    The ideal must be this:
    As for lyrics, up untill now the singers (we have a girl and a guy) write their own parts.
  11. the guitar player in my band now shoots down anything i bring to the table, whether it be songs or suggestions about his songs or how to eq something. he thinks he knows everything, which makes it very difficult to work with him. i used to write 40-50% of the songs for the band, he wrote the others, i stopped bothering to show him new songs. it's just a waste of my time. oh yea he's really been a prick lately, just 2 more shows and then i quit. I cant wait. such a relief
  12. Mr.Phil


    Apr 9, 2005
    Upstate NY
    I find it helpful to put the instrumental parts together as a group. Some of the best stuff we've come up with started with the guitar player saying check out this chord progression or the drummer laying down a funky beat. If there's something I want to work on, I'll bring the changes and tell the guys the style I'm thinking of. Besides, who knows more about guitar, me or the guitar player, same with the drums. Its interesting to listen to the individual quality that each player brings. As for vocals, I find that writing them as a group seldom works (creative differences...)
  13. kilgoja


    May 26, 2005
    if our songwriter has a song then i just play along with the chords he's come up with and then add my own runs and what not if it's needed...sometimes if he already has an idea about a bassline i just go with it...which is rare for him to do but it does happen...and sometimes i might come up with a bassline and then he will add to it and come up with a whole song...also i've wrote the music to a few songs but he is the major songwriter in our band...it's just kind of a mutual thing...sometimes we both have ideas and we just try both and decide which we like better...it's the same with guitar and drum parts in our band too....other bands may not work this way...some people are like i'm gonna play what i wanna play or it's my song so play it my way....but that only leads to fighting and arguing....you just have to work it out and not be egotistical about it...after all it's a band....not one person and a bunch of fill ins....also someone may have an idea and then i will add to it to make it better....and there have been times where our songwriter showed me a song and i came up with my parts and he said....man that's way better than what i came up with....and that's a good feeling...lol...i guess it makes you feel like you do contribute something to the band...but you can't feel bad if there is a song where you don't come up with anything...that's just how it goes...it's not about who gets credit for what ...it's about having fun playing music with your friends and getting your point accross to the fans(or people who have wondered in to listen)
  14. lowphatbass

    lowphatbass **** Supporting Member

    Feb 25, 2005
    west coast
    Writing material in a band situation is always tough. First of all, it is important for a band to have it's "signature" or "sound" and often times with different band members writing independently that really gets lost, that should give you idea that not everyone is "right" for the band. My advise when writing independently and introducing a song or idea to you band is to allow the rest of the band to work up there own parts, you have written the progression and the pathway, set the basic groove, now let the band make it their song. If this isn't working than that is another sign that not everyone is right for the band.
    The other band writing technique that can be magical is the "stone soup" method..one person comes up with nothing more than a riff to jam on and through the jamming process a song is born.
    The easiest thing is when there is a leader/songwriter/arranger person fronting the band, they call the shots, everyone knows what the order of power is and who has the final word. That is what I like because it is so rare to find a group of people that can incorperate equally their musical ideas and produce anything halfway decent, a true band is like a 4 or 5 way marriage, it's hard enough with just 2 people!!!

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