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What's your method of writing?

Discussion in 'Recordings [BG]' started by Melf, Jun 2, 2004.

  1. Melf


    Mar 20, 2003
    Starkville, MS
    Given that I've reached a musical writer's block in the past few days, I'm trying to explore new methods of writing music.

    I write like this:

    Get the lyrics out first
    Decide the scale and chord progression
    Monkey around on my bass and try and get some decent sounding melodies
    Put in the rhythm section
    Put in the melody section, including vocals

    How do you do it?
  2. Josh Ryan

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

    Mar 24, 2001
    I almost always write drums first.


    Melody first, then drums, then whatever else.

    Lyrics are almost always last.
  3. Woodchuck


    Apr 21, 2000
    Atlanta (Grant Park!)
    Gallien Krueger for the last 12 years!
    I always do the hook and guitar first. I write on guitar. :eyebrow: Yes, I'm a bad rodent. :scowl:
  4. Benjamin Strange

    Benjamin Strange Commercial User

    Dec 25, 2002
    New Orleans, LA
    Owner / Tech: Strange Guitarworks
    I figure that the music should at least be interesting without the words, so I do lyrics and melody last. It kind of makes it difficult writing a vocal line (ever sang in 17/8?!), but that's part of the fun.
  5. Melf


    Mar 20, 2003
    Starkville, MS
    Interesting idea. I never looked at it that way.
  6. Wrong Robot

    Wrong Robot Guest

    Apr 8, 2002
    I turn on Garageband and start recording. I don't always develop everything I record, but When I make something I like, I flesh it out. I usually start with a melodic idea, or motif, but sometimes I've started with more rhythmic foundation. Either way, as soon as I lay a track down everything else starts to come together in my head, so I just have to lay down more and more tracks until I'm satisfied. I haven't been recording much lately, but I did just make a pretty fun arrangement of a super mario world song, which I want to record sometime soon.

    The only Lyrics I write are raps, but I haven't gotten around to ever recording any :oops:
  7. Have you spent any time listening to stuff you might not ordinarily listen to otherwise, maybe stuff not in your collection, maybe on a college or (one of the few remaining) independent stations? That might break up your logjam.

    Me, I've written both ways-- lyrics first as well as music first. Of late I've also set obnoxious rules for myself to see whether I can push myself into harmonies and progressions I wouldn't do on my own, mostly involving bending the rules of 12-tone harmony till they break.

    You could also crack open an advanced harmony book and see where that leads.

    Just a few suggestions, do with them what you will.
  8. seequeue


    Feb 13, 2004
    I usually am pretty patient and wait for an idea to come, which is often sparked by listening to different music (often new stuff). Everything just works from there
  9. deepbob


    Oct 3, 2001
    left field
    never tried to do the same thing twice in terms of process, but have employed the same process many times thru inevitability.

    my favorite starting place is a click track, which is derived from a concept of some kind. ie, a tempo is usually the starting place.

    from there i will find some basic component, from a basic rythmic building block, to a guitar/bass riff, to some kind of keyboard hook that flies.

    from that point i'll build components around them eg a bass line that meshes with a basic rythmic block, or some kind of keyboard flavor that matches the other components which define things up to that point.

    i'll make assessments at various points and may even change core components at unseemly periods, eg deciding to go to 3/4 from 4/4 because of a given factor, and start from 'scratch' as a result.

    once i have a 'musical' idea flowing, i'll tend to try and match vocal/lyrical concepts to that groove/feeling/flow - which might be anything from pre-existing poetry (which i tend to write separately from the musical process), to some kind of verbal exclamation based on the musical motiff/idea at hand.

    other techniques stem from focusing on certain voices/instruments, but again these work best from a base click track that establishes a tempo to jam against, and see what comes it.

    experiementation/improvisation are the most important point of willingness however. something i've come to understand are very uncomfortable things for many to look at.

  10. I almost always start with bass and drums to lay down something I like, and then work guitar around it.

    Then I do what WR does...but I try to record damn near anything. I remember when I first started on guitar and read an article in Guitar World by Billy Corgan about how he kept almost all cool-sounding riffs as sort of a grab-bag. He listed the slow part of "Guitar Geek U.S.A" as an example...he had that part recorded long ago, but he couldn't make it fit anywhere. Then he noodled until it fit into the song. That made a lot of sense to me, so I try to keep everything in hopes it fits somewhere, someday.

    As for inspiration, I almost always get song ideas in the shower. I don't know why, but I'll hear a song in my head and start singing the melody. 20 minutes later I realize I've neglected to wash my hair or anything, and I'm sure my mom is wondering what the hell is going on in there.

    Actually, I do all my best thinking in there for some reason. I always feel like a genius after a shower.
  11. Brendan


    Jun 18, 2000
    Austin, TX
    Lyrics first.
    Rhythms come second
    then melodies and hooks.

    Not that I can write music terribly well.