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Wrote some original music, then learned music theory, now going back to the music...

Discussion in 'General Instruction [BG]' started by recreate.me, Oct 23, 2010.


  1. recreate.me

    recreate.me

    Apr 2, 2010
    Ontario
    Well, I just started playing bass a couple years ago, and relied on tabs to learn as well as help from a friend who played guitar. It got to the point where i could play most tabs from modern bands i liked with no problems.

    We started a band, i played bass and he wrote the songs since hes been playing guitar for years. After about 7 songs i am starting to learn standard notation and theory (just on my own online and with books) and i am trying to write out our songs, well im having some troubles.

    I have written out our first song, it consists of the notes:
    B,G#/Ab,G,A,E
    And is preformed in DADG

    When transcribing this is it just in the key of C Major, and just happens to have those G#/Ab's in there?

    And is it common for a song to change time signatures from 4/4 to 3/4 ?
    Writing this out i think the chorus is 3/4 and the verse is 4/4 i never thought about it since it was just something we learned and nailed but when writing it it seems to come out that way...
     
  2. Playing from tabs limit you to the number of songs you have stored in memory. A little theory opens this up so you can assume some things and play hundreds of songs. Of course IMO.
    I guess you could say that. I would need a little more than 5 notes to reach that decision. What chords are you playing those notes over - that enters into the picture.
    It's your song you can do that if you like, IMO that is not done a lot. Now changing keys for the chorus is, but, changing timing ... it's your song, if you like it ... it's your song. Dancers will give you the fish eye if you change the timing on them.

    I'm a structured kinda guy, before writing a song I have several things lined out. They are:
    • The story, what is the reason for the song. What will happen in the first verse, what needs to be said in the second and third verse. The chorus is the hook. What do I want them remembering about this song. Remember I'm a structured kinda guy - I start with the story and lyrics - this may not work for you.
    • What key will I write it in. That depends on who will be the vocalist and what key do they like to sing in. I sing in D so if not for a specific vocalist I'd probably put it in D. Pick a key it makes everything else easier.
    • Verse format; four line verse is what I start with. Rhyme or not - up to you.
    • Chord progression. I'm Country so the cookie cutter I IV V I has written thousands of songs and usually works well for a first draft. My first draft would start with the I chord and move to the IV chord near the end of the first line of the verse. The second line would continue with the IV chord and move to the V7 chord near the end of the second line, and return to the I chord for the end of the second line. The third and fourth line would follow this same format, remember it's a first draft.
    • Get the lyrics flowing with the chord progression, i.e. move the chords one way or the other so they flow with the lyrics. At this point your may only be reciting the lyrics. The tune is yet to come.
    • Time for the melody. One melody note per lyric word, yes some words take more than one melody note. Two syllable words take two melody notes, three syllable words will need three melody notes.
    • Which notes? For a first draft I draw my melody from the chords pentatonic. That will give you three chord tones and two safe passing notes - which will harmonize the melody with that chord quite well.
    • Again which notes? Remember one note per lyric word. Say the word and try the 3 chord tones - which sounds best and flows with what you already have. The one that sounds best - Use it. IMO - Much easier if you work out the melody on a keyboard.
    That is the steps I use -- do you have to start with the story, it's a chicken or egg thing start where you like - when you end you need to have included all those steps in there somewhere. The order is up to you.

    Good luck.
     
  3. recreate.me

    recreate.me

    Apr 2, 2010
    Ontario
    Hrmm, Thats a lot more to consider then i had thought originally.

    It makes sense about what the chords im playing over, as the bass can accent them differently depending on notes and some notes fall in multiple keys, and i really use only 5 notes lol

    I played the song out all morning and i think its still 4/4 or at least not 3/4 for the verse, but on paper it looks fishy. I think it comes down to missing rests.

    In case anyone cared to listen the song is at: http://www.myspace.com/frontiersisaband

    The one i am working on is 'My oh My, there's a hole in the sky" just because it was the first we wrote, i'm just going through them chronologically as they get more technical (we wrote that song then added the lead guitarist, and he played his own stuff over us, then the 4 of us started writing together and he's just a gifted musician, a bit weird though)

    Thanks i will look over it all again, maybe sit down with the rhythm guitarist and see what hes playing since im no good at chords for guitar and dont know his stuff.
     
  4. J-B'ass

    J-B'ass

    Sep 3, 2007
    London
    That's certainly an effective formula to use, but it definitely won't be everyone's cup of tea. There really are no rules, so just use a method that works for you. Songwriting can be a very intuitive process, so you don't necessarily have to bear anything consciously in mind when you right. If your song sounds good though, then when you look back over it you'll probably find a few tried and true formulas have crept in all by themselves, which is fine and very natural.
     

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