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Thread: Songwriting....

  1. #1
    Ohhhh Riggghhttt. headrulz101's Avatar
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    Songwriting....

    Well for the past month I've been working on songwriting and studying other songs and I came to think of this. When writing a song, is it better to write the lyrics first, or come up with the melody?

  2. #2
    Wordgirl: Jaded Musician jade_bodhi's Avatar
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    chicken or the egg

    Quote Originally Posted by headrulz101
    Well for the past month I've been working on songwriting and studying other songs and I came to think of this. When writing a song, is it better to write the lyrics first, or come up with the melody?
    The premise of your question seems to suggest that lyrics or music must come before the other. I don't think that is the case. Even when I write the lyrics first, the rhythm and cadence of a melody will usually change the lyrics. And if I have the music down pat, the rhythm and melody will limit the creative process of finding a lyric.

    Everybody's got their own process. Everybody must find their own way. I find the songwring process is never the same. I might have a melody that suggests a line or two of lyrics and then I'm off writing lyrics. Or I might have a couple lyrics, and I'll play with some music till I find something that complements the lyric.

    Whenever I write music, I have the instrument (guitar or piano) right there while I'm writing the lyrics, so it is actuallly a simultaneous creation of music and words.

    I remember seeing an old movie of the Gershwin brothers and how they composed music together, George throwing a melody at his brother Ira, and Ira throwing words back at George. It was a simultaneous creation.

    Jade
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    what we have known...

  3. #3
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    it depends on what your more proficient in I think also. I'm a better musician than I am lyricist. So the music comes first. I would advise trying to play off of your strengths to create your best work. But for some it comes out sounding forced if they don't do one or the other first. take some time to see which way you think you have your best material come from.

  4. #4
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    IMO, it all depends on what you come up with first...I'll explain that WTF statement I just made...

    Sometimes, I'll start humming a melody just off the top of my head, then words begin to form that fit the melody (maybe just one line, maybe an entire verse); then I'll write the rest of the lyrics around that melody and whatever theme the song is veering toward. Once that is completed, I know how I want the final song to sound so the music is written according to what melody and lyrics were established.

    Conversley to that, sometimes a nice riff will pop up, maybe even an entire instrumental piece...well, the lyrics and melody can then be inspired by the tone of the music.

    I guess my long winded answer is "yes". To all. The lyrics can dictate the melody or vice versa. It all depends on your writing style.

  5. #5
    Registered User metalmike06's Avatar
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    Yeah just preference really or how it works best for you. I personally suck at writing lyrics at this point so I always depend on the music/melodies first.

  6. #6
    Registered User Obivion's Avatar
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    Got start with melodies, I mean the melody is what makes it a song after all. I always preferred simple heartfelt lyrics i.e. Guns N Roses on Appetite that fit the melody rather than complex lyrics, its a song not a poem!
    No one sings the blues quite like Yngwie!

  7. #7
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    I think you'll find as some of the others have said there are many ways in which inspiration will manifest itself and to say you have to start with any one aspect of the writing process would be wrong .One aspect can inspire another and your own willingness and musical experience and knowledge will aid in developing your own style .What matters is the end result,how you get there is totally up to you. Try using the different methods and I bet you won't settle for one . You might not always heve a melody at hand ,but you might have an interesting chord sequence that you can tickle a good melody out of. Then you're off the creative process has been started ,then one thing leads to another. It's just sublime how all the parts suddenly fit together the hard part is honing it ,but for me the skeleton is the most important because it's flexible.An artist friend of mine says that to him the "Idea" is the most important thing,and that the finished article,no matter how perfect, is irrelevant.

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    If you work one way, see if you can work with someone who works the other way. Usually I have to have the music down otherwise I wander away from the melody. But I have a friend who can look at my lyrics and write music. Then I write the basslines for him because he's a guitarist, he's not brilliant at writing basslines. whereas I can't write guitar very well at all because I'm not used to playing it. You really need to work with someone who can meet you half way to get the process eprfect. Although if you're prepared to work through a few errors, you can get by doing it all yourself.
    We hurdle bodies that lay on the ground, and the Russians fire another round...

  9. #9
    Modbod UKRuss's Avatar
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    recently I have discovered that rather than writing a melody or a chord progression first I have had great success with writing the bass line first.

    I think it works well because it opens up all sorts of additional possibilities melodically.

    Whatever works.

  10. #10
    Not worthy. Pekkaman's Avatar
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    I agree with everyone so far, do whatever works for you, I have done it both ways.

    I'd like to add something though to everyone who says they suck at lyrics.

    Practice!


    Writing isn't that different from anything else, you get better with practice. But don't just write things, read alot too, read poems, novels, anything. And show the stuff you write to people, find people who can give constructive criticism. Just, don't think you'll never be able to write good lyrics if the first few (or 20 :P) sucks.

  11. #11
    I talk to spiders... CaptainCaveman's Avatar
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    Like many of you, I am first of all a musician, and I am better at making arrangements and melodies than lyrics. My band's songs are usually created by me writing an instrumental tune, sometimes with a melody, sometimes without, and the singer writing the lyrics (even though he is, like me, better at writing music). This procedure works very well for us, in a practical sense, but I tend to get frustrated because even though my instrumentals have no words, they are very precious and meaningful to me. Therefore, when my buddy writes some otherwise great lyrics for them, a part of me feels, that he is ruining my songs. I think it is very important that music and words are created together, as a whole.

  12. #12
    Did I say that out loud ? joeyd929's Avatar
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    Yeah!

    Quote Originally Posted by jade_bodhi

    Everybody's got their own process. Everybody must find their own way. I find the songwring process is never the same. I might have a melody that suggests a line or two of lyrics and then I'm off writing lyrics. Or I might have a couple lyrics, and I'll play with some music till I find something that complements the lyric.

    Jade
    Exactly!

  13. #13
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    I'm a bit like Geezer Butler or Bob Daisley. I write lyrics a lot and I'm better at it than a few people I know : )

    One thing about lyrics, if it's one of those lines that sounds a little off (out of examples, butif it hardly fits the theme or sounds like amateur rubbish) either change the rhymn or change the whole thing. Don't settle for rubbish!
    We hurdle bodies that lay on the ground, and the Russians fire another round...

  14. #14
    Registered User agalloch's Avatar
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    Try different techniques, last song me and my band composed which came out as a kind of up beat rock, started out with a simple bass line which progressed and we simply layered two guitars on top of it and it came out really great for my liking.
    So try composing from bass lines, lyrics or some interesting riffs. Theres never a wrong way.

  15. #15
    Since both aspects of song writing can be worked on and improved i found it was good to get like a notebook and fill it full with lyrics while at the same time practicing compositional techniques. Its a very good idea for writeing melodies to learn how to sing cause this allows u 2 hear melodies in ur head practice doing them seperatly and then from there do it anyway u want. Its best to experiment with a number of different methods its best no just to one youll get different results from each.

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