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((SONICO))'s picture
The Twilight Zone
Jan 2007
8 years ago

When you are writing a song do you usually start off with the lyrics or do you usually have a basic song structure to work a lyric out?

I've been thinking of doing something entirely by my self but I've never attempted writing anything. I have lots of ideas "instrumental demos" that I have recorded but I just can't figure a way of fitting any lyrics to them.

But it's probably because they where never meant to have any lyrics anyway.

I'm thinking of starting from scratch now but I was wondering how do you guys work that out.

cheers:)

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((SONICO))'s picture
The Twilight Zone
Jan 2007
8 years ago

Also is it true that if you mail yourself a letter containing lyrics "or any document for that matter" it's enough evidence to prove that you are the author of that letter in case that some one tries to copy it?

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iaresee's picture
Here
Sep 2006
1 year ago

Originally posted by ((SONICO))
Also is it true that if you mail yourself a letter containing lyrics "or any document for that matter" it's enough evidence to prove that you are the author of that letter in case that some one tries to copy it?

For lyrics this is sufficient. You should make sure the envelope is well sealed, like glued shut, so that it can't be steamed open. When you get the letter back leave it sealed and stick it in a safe place.

For recorded music you should register with ASCAP or BMI or SOCAN (if you're in Canada). ASCAP and SOCAN are free, I think BMI might charge but it's minimal. When you record a song you send them a copy with the details of who wrote it and such and they archive it. If anyone plays your music and gets reported they handle collecting your royalties and paying you. You'll never forget that first royalty cheque for $12.00 you get from your publishing society...

- IAN C. -
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iaresee's picture
Here
Sep 2006
1 year ago

Originally posted by ((SONICO))
When you are writing a song do you usually start off with the lyrics or do you usually have a basic song structure to work a lyric out?

For me personally, every song is different. Music is easy for me. Lyrics are Hard (capital intended). And ideas never occur the same way twice.

One tip I've tried to put into practice over the past few months is to set up a regular writing time. An hour a night. Where I sit down, press record and just write. Just let it spill out. Putting your mind into "writing mode" at a regular time is a writer's trick I got from Stephen King's "On Writing..." book. You train your creative mind to be on when you need it for an hour day.

- IAN C. -
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jmg's picture
Ireland
Jun 2004
8 years ago

Originally posted by ((SONICO))
When you are writing a song do you usually start off with the lyrics or do you usually have a basic song structure to work a lyric out?

cheers:)

It can work both ways. I've started lots of songs with a vocal melody then just worked thru putting simple chords to it and built it up from there.

At other times in rehearsal somebody will come up with a riff and we'll build a song from there, usually a verse or chorus riff. When we're playing I'm usually thinking about the vocal melody and just basically humming to it or singing nonsensical just to get to the melody and what phrasing fits with the riffs. I also record these songs on my mp3 player and listen back to them a lot, this helps to find something that fits well.

Best thing you can do is experiment, try lots of different things with your voice, phrasing and the tempo. Personally I've never sat down with a piece of paper and wrote a song start to finish without some idea of what its going to sound like. Dont get stressed over the lyrics, get the melody right and sing any old rubbish until you do... they lyrics will come, it can just take time. Some songs took leonard cohen years.

Hope this helps.

Jim

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Moo_2's picture
Texas
Oct 2005
3 years ago

I don't know, there's not really a formula or process to it. It just kind of happens. Usually it comes out of an idea, chords and melody.

I used to do only instrumentals like you.. let's say 5 years back. I'd always have a rhythm and a lead guitar. I could never put lyrics on them, so I just ended up with new songs with words.

And it's not easy! I'll have like an idea for a verse here and a chorus there, and they'll just die, like bills in congress, but a few will get lucky enough to turn into songs and then maybe not completely suck.

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Niels's picture
London
Jun 2005
2 years ago

I have asmilliar problem..I have riffs here and there, but I find it hard to combine them into a song. Let alone put vocals over them...I guess I just have to do it more often.

Aureate_7's picture
Serenity Valley
Apr 2005
7 years ago

For me its definately music almost always. There's been rare occaisions its gone the other way, but I definately think that the musical ideas are necessary first to set the mood for the lyrics. But sometimes the lyrics and melody come first...but when that happens, there tends to be the music lurking in the background...like chords that would seem to work. And sometimes I write with the chord progression in my head, having a pretty good idea of what will go where.

Uneffected guitar...thats a joke, right?

Hoodee's picture
Poland
Feb 2007
4 years ago

When it comes to writing, I just open my mind for a theme,that's what I do...And if I don't find one,Ijust start jamming along till I got a glimpse of an idea...

Although i never did wrote a good song that way, I like that type of working on a song 'cause it happens it can be applied to both vocs and riffs work...

Lets say I just start to masturbate my mind and let it spread all over the place till I got an idea (which may probably compare to an orgasm ;P)

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Amsterdarn's picture
Apr 2003
4 years ago

I always start with music and add lyrics later, or come up with both at once. Although that only works for a few lines, and then I finish the music and add lyrics later.

I don't know if this is the best possible way, but it's the only way I've ever been able to work. Writing melodies, chord progressions, and such comes quite easily to me. Lyrics, though, are agonizing. It isn't that I'm not good with words-- very much the opposite. I just get intensely, almost cripplingly self-conscious about my lyrics, which sort of hampers the creative process. I hold myself up to bands like the Decemberists, the Magnetic Fields, Okkervil River, and Joanna Newsom, and then I get embarassed about two-thirds of the lines that measure up, anyway.

When I do come up with a set of lyrics I'm fully happy with, though (this happens frighteningly rarely), they're really damn good.

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fat-robot's picture
Tacoma, WA
Aug 2005
2 years ago

I'd say 85% or so of my songs start with just a line, usually the first line of the song. Maybe a verse, or very seldom, a chorus (I don't write choruses too often). Normally also, these come to me when I'm driving to or from work (I try to find new ways to drive home so I can see different things, seems to stimulate my brain). Then, if they're good enough that I can remember them long enough to write them down, I grab a guitar or key board or something and figure out chords.

Normally this is when I write the rest of the song. I write until I feel like I'm forcing the words out, instead of just letting them out. Sometimes this means I end up with a single verse....sometimes ten. Then, I normally play the song for about an hour, playing with rhythms and ideas, until I'm bored with it.

I'll let it sit for a few days and see if it tugs at me to play it. If it does I'll go back and start putzing around some more, until I feel I'm really making a song I like, or until I feel like it isn't worth it. I think a big part of writing good songs is knowing when you've written a bad one...

When I come up with a chord progression I like, I will sometimes just mumble words at random and see if I come up with a good melody. Also, this helps me get a feel for a song and helps me develop a story in my head. Once I develop that story, I figure out how to make it work with the melody...or I throw that melody out and write a new one...

My song writing technique is very modular though. Parts get taken from one song and put in another, I might write 2 or 3 songs to the same chord progression etc. I write a lot of songs that no one ever gets to hear, and a lot that I wish I'd never let anyone hear, but I also write a lot of songs that I'm very proud of.

Anyways, I hope some of that was helpful. I went on a lot longer than I meant to.

Ciao