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Writing songs

Discussion in 'Music Theory [DB]' started by Norre, Jan 17, 2004.

  1. Norre


    Jan 5, 2001
    Antwerp, Belgium
    I was wondering if there are any bassplayers here that are into songwriting/composing music.
    If so, what instrument do you use for it?
    Somehow, when I want to write a song, I just can't do it on bass. I need a guitar for that.
    I know some people use a piano.


  2. Marcus Johnson

    Marcus Johnson

    Nov 28, 2001
    I write from piano or guitar.
  3. James Hart

    James Hart

    Feb 1, 2002
    Endorsing Artist: see profile
    60/40 bass to guitar.
  4. Bass/piano/occasionally guitar (but not any more since my acoustic was stolen - much harder to steal my piano though!)
  5. jazzbo


    Aug 25, 2000
    San Francisco, CA
  6. bass and piano. Normally I'll figure out the melody or any lick in general, and also the basic chord structure of the song on the bass, but then I'll take it to a piano to figure out the color tones and specific structures of the chords and how they relate with eachother.
  7. Ace123


    Sep 25, 2002
    Rochester, NY
    You could always use a music program on the computer like band-in-a-box. You just put in any chords and select and style and it'll play it for you. You could buy it.. or you could download it off someone from kazaa like i did. It's a great program for making your own songs.
  8. Howard K

    Howard K

    Feb 14, 2002
    100% bass, but i must admit i find it limiting...
    problem is i cant play any other instrument well enough to let the ideas flow. i have a keyboard, but if i start playing it I get carried away with something else i stumble accross

    i often start with a lick or melody or bassline, then try out different chords while i sing it.

    i'm talking e******c bass by the way...
  9. Bruce Lindfield

    Bruce Lindfield Unprofessional TalkBass Contributor Gold Supporting Member In Memoriam

    I haven't written any songs for ages - but when I did, I always started on drum machine!!
  10. Howard K

    Howard K

    Feb 14, 2002
    I hate drum machines. Bl~~dy things take ages to set up and they still sound cack. IMO, of course!
  11. Bruce Lindfield

    Bruce Lindfield Unprofessional TalkBass Contributor Gold Supporting Member In Memoriam

    Well - for home recording they can be made to sound a lot better than real drums! But the point is that it is impossible to add drum machine last, when recording at home - you have to start with it - so that affected the way I wrote songs. I knew I would have to get the drums right first -so that's where I started!

    I think my preference has always been for playing things with interesting rhythms - so if it had a dull rhythm then I wasn't going to be interested in playing it - so it made sense in that respect as well!
  12. I dunno, I've played to a click and added drums later before. Can make for some really intersting stuff when you write a song in 5/4 but can only get the drum machine to go 4/4! Can also create some utter crap.
  13. On my few dables in song writing I have always done it on bass. Most of the music my friends and I make comes from improvisation so if I find something I like in my improvisations it will become the bassline or the melody to my song. Sometimes after that I will write in some simple chord changes, but I am of the late Coltrane school of thought (as in the fewer chord changes the better) so most of my songs do not have chord changes.
  14. Bruce Lindfield

    Bruce Lindfield Unprofessional TalkBass Contributor Gold Supporting Member In Memoriam

    It is possible - so I was struggling with Jazz tunes written in 5/4 and 15/4 and my drum machine will only do 4/4/, 3/4, 2/4 and multiples of these.

    So - for the 15/4 tune I just programmed 5 bars of 3/4 for each measure and tied notes across the bar and worked out the drums accordingly!!

    I also did a tune that was basically like a 12 bar in 5/4 over 15 bars of 4/4 on the drum machine.... ;)
  15. moley


    Sep 5, 2002
    Hampshire, UK
    Piano all the way.
  16. abaguer


    Nov 27, 2001
    Milford, NJ
    Piano or guitar. Sometimes I'll work a melody out on bass but use the piano to harmonize the chords against it.
  17. Kurisu


    Nov 19, 2003
    Saskatoon SK
    Moley, what do you think works best when trying to compose on piano? What I mean is this - what stages do you go through when assembling a song?

    I want to know because I'd also like to compose some songs, but my piano technique is severly lacking and I don't know what to spend my practicing time on... especially because I'm also learning bass at the same time. :)
  18. I find when I write tunes on the piano, I can't really write a bass line for the left hand, since I can rarely play anything interesting while going with the right hand too. I try to find a good melody and good chords underneath it. Many times I know it will be different in a group setting, but I get enough of an idea so that I know how it will be different in a group setting.

    My typical song formula is to find the melody that I want, and maybe a variation. Then I will create a complementary part for the bridge by shifting harmonically and/or rhythmically. My most recent piano tune is a pretty/simple melody over a chord progression in a major key. The chords eventually shift into minor chords under the same melody, then the melody changes into something much uglier. But I like to have it all come out at the same time, and be related/progressive rather than a series of random shifts.
  19. Don Higdon

    Don Higdon In Memoriam

    Dec 11, 1999
    Princeton Junction, NJ
    I compose with my washtub bass. People say all my stuff sounds the same.
  20. I compose mostly at the piano, though sometimes I'll come up with a melody on the bass, then sit down at the piano and figure out the chords.

    I find it easier to write if I have some practical motivation -- I can't just sit down and say, Today I'm going to write a tune. Fr'instance, last fall I was asked to composed some "jazzy" incidental music for the local production of a new play. The music had to reflect the various moods of the play, and they needed it by a certain date, and I actually got paid to do it. That made things easy.

    Like Cole Porter said, "The only inspiration I need is a phone call from a producer."

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