Some helpful tips...


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benjmc
01-17-2003, 07:10 PM
Right well. Why would I waste time doing this? Hmm...good question. 'Cos I'm not wasting time, ;). I'm just helping you budding songwriters explore the marvelous world of lyric writing with a little encouragement from me...this should cut down your threads saying "how do I write lyrics?".

So...the first question. Why write?

1. It will help you release all excess emotion in a controlled manner. It will help you cope with difficult situations.
2. You have written a riff...simple; you need lyrics. So now...I'm going to tell you one very important thing.

1st Rule: Don't write for the sake of writing. Make it personal, make it meaningful.

Now, if i was a normal self-disciplined person like all you fine people are, then I would probably tell you what to write, or simply how to write it. But, this is me. So I'll get back to that. I just want to make an observation; there are lots of people who suffer 'writers blocks'. Now this is when the person isn't inspired, and has followed my first rule. So how do you break out of this? Well, you could **** up your personal life. That's sure to give ya something to write about, ;). But no, there are easier ways...though I will include that one.

Inspiration?

1. You are having troubles in your personal life. This is one time when you can truly write what you feel and have it sounding pretty good.
2. Walk around, look at the beauty of the world, the magnificance of people, and how poverty ruins beauty.
3. Read. It doesn't matter what, just read. A newspaper - make a political song? Maybe a book that makes you think, maybe a thriller, **** who cares? At least tehn you'll get an idea of how to write WHILST also getting a plot/story for your lyrics. Want some good authors?...then ask me...hell I have a thread about them somewhere. Alot of "English is caught not taught"...

Now...the hard part. "I know what I want to say...but I can't say it." Sound familiar?...not to worry.

I'll take bits of various songs to demonstrate thoughtful/meaningful lyrics.

--------------------------------------------------------------------------
What Do You Want Me to Say? - The Dismemberment Plan

Verse:
I lost my membership card to the
human race so don't forget the face
because I know that I do belong here

Verse:
Go down the checklist let's see:
feelings are good dishonesty is bad
and keeping it inside is worse still

Chorus:
What do you want me to say?
What do you want me to do
to let you know that I still love you?
-------------------------------------------------------------------------

So just a simple extract there, but if you study it, you'll see wit and intelligence.

In Depth: Verse 1
First line shows how some people don't get accepted and are ostracised (they become outcasts).
Second & third line shows that he wants to belong and to be accepted, even if the people aren't willing to do this for him.

In Depth: Verse 2
First line, looking for the qualities that he needs to fit in.
Second & third line elaborate on what he's found. Basically, it could be about writing a song...so yea, that'll go there in tips.

In Depth: Chorus
The person in the song is anguished at not being accepted and what he has to do to get their love. It's simple, yet so unbelievably honest.
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I believe that these lyrics could qualify as Emo...so now I'll slot in a description on how to write emo lyrics. Please note, below is not my own work but is courtesy of MarkMac...say thanks to him when you get the chance.
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So you want to write EMO... okay, I'll share what I've come up with so far.

1. Load up on literature: You can't write EMO if you don't have a good grasp on writing in general. Regardless of how complicated your words get, you need to have a feel for all the different literary instruments like metaphor, allegory, analogy and even onomatopeia. If you don't have this, stick to writing simple, raw emotive lyrics like the stuff you hear from Blink182. Mind you, I'm not saying that's a bad thing. I think that "In Too Deep" by Sum41 is actually a well-constructed lyrical song for its genre.

2. Load up on your angst of choice: EMO's big draw, particularly to college and older listeners is that it bleeds. It's gut wrenching in an intelligent, melodic way and it deals with issues in a very open and honest manner. Also remember that EMO likes dealing with more mature issues. For example, you won't really find any EMO songs about rebelling against authority, while most teen punk is littered with such sentiments. "Anna Begins" by the Counting Crows depicts a guy waking up at night beside his girlfriend and wondering what they're really about. Coldplay's "Yellow" touches on how a girl has everything her way and how the guy can't seem to turn her his way.

Important to remember: you're also loading up on angst because you're going to need to sing with angst. EMO singers have notoriously depressing tones. Crows, Staind, Coldplay, Lifehouse, etc the voice produces much of the feel.

3. Now you're talking about saying everything you feel in a few, simple catchy phrases. This is accomplished by using those literary instruments I was talking about. Look at this line from Counting Crows' "Round Here" -

"Round here, we talk like lions, but we sacrifice like lambs.
Round here, it's slipping through my hands."

The sentiment of disillusionment just drips in these two lines. To achieve the same effect by using literal lyrics would take much longer, and won't have the same effect. Lyrics shouldn't be literally visual. You're not narrating a story, you should think more along the lines of imparting an emotion.

The problem with a lot of beginning writers is that they lock on too much to trying to depict an event. i.e. "I've known you for a while, I know everything about you, I do everything for you, you're amazing but you never notice me" is how a lot of starting lyricists would treat the subject of unrequited love. But I'm not talking about being overly flowery either. Coldplay's "Yellow" goes:

I swam across,
I jumped across for you,
Oh what a thing to do.
Cos you were all "Yellow,"

I drew a line,
I drew a line for you,
Oh what a thing to do,
And it was all "Yellow."

Your skin, oh yeah your skin and bones,
Turn into something beautiful,
And you know
for you I'd bleed myself dry

You might think these lyrics are terribly simple but the truth of the matter is that, coupled with Chris Martin's vocal style, it's very well-constructed. The repeating lines show to the urgency of his actions, the line "Oh what a thing to do" highlights the uselessness of what he's done. Then of course comes the required "thesis statement" which is, "For you I'd bleed myself dry". As you said, you can accomplish a lot with a few simple words and this song shows it.

Important: Note also the use of onomatopeia in these songs. Actually, I don't think I mean onomatopeaia in the strict sense of the word, I'm just saying you should use the correct type of sound at each portion of a song. Though it's not a song that's EMO, a song I use to illustrate this to people is Sum41's "In Too Deep". The line, "Maybe we're just trying too hard, when really it's closer than it is too far." The word "Maybe" produces the exact sound you need. Try singing it with another two syllable word, like "Perhaps" and it doesn't work because its not onomatopeically sound. You can't just replace "closer" either with say, "nearer" because even though they have the same syllables, the sound of the words are not the same. Be conscious of how your individual words sounds at the key portions of your song.

We could deconstruct any number of EMO songs in this way and I suggest you do because it'll give you an idea of what you need to do to build one.
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Now...me (benjmc) again...

Issues:
1. Over using rhyme. I do believe everyone will admit that people on UG tend to fall into this trap. Basically, if you have nothing to say, then using rhyme will probe you to say something, anything, to fill up the page. But this goes back to rule 1...if you've nothing to say, for **** sake don't make a song saying it. Unless that is your actually topic, and you do it in a creative and thoughtful way, :rolleyes: So...basically, too much rhyme is alot worse than no rhyme. If you express all your ideas in a logical way, then no one should notice about rhyme anyway. And I know some of you may have got critiques saying "you need a certain rhyme scheme, don't wander" but that's just not right. Speak the truth, not some over rhyming piece of garb. Rhyme is often misused far too much. People don't understand how to rhyme without forcing a song. I'm going to have to go back to that sometime...so listen to me, listen to Pyro, listen to MarkMac, listen to Buzz...we all agree that you shouldn't rhyme too much. But...if you get to an advanced stage in your songwriting you will realise if your non-rhyming song works..and you'll realise how to use rhyme to it's full potential.



so, I hope you'll note this thread is nowhere near complete, and I shall fill it up with helpful tips from fellow UG people who offered their help in this very useful project. I just thought I'd give you a taster.

benjmc
01-17-2003, 07:44 PM
Well...that certainly was enlightening (no sarcasm). You see, it is good to let your songs kind of drift so that they can interpreted metaphorically and therefore may be applied to many different situations.

Like...a recent song I wrote...it's about climbing up the ladder of success...

Cast it aside, I beg the pardon of the queen.
Don't ask me to wash away the pain,
I won't clean up the waste I see entranced by you.
I scream down to the hobo, "I wept like a fool, one time too."

You will notice that I never actually said I was at the top of the ladder of success. Instead I implied it through my condescending attitude to people who were at the very bottom of the ladder, and by showing how I refuse to let my hands be dirtied by the filth below me. Just a further elaboration onto his point...oh yea...and I'm not that big of a dick in real life. I was imagining a situation when I wrote that song...that's something I'll come back to.

benjmc
01-20-2003, 03:37 PM
Right well...The plan is to absolutely fill this thread with tips...and then organise them in a new thread. So people...do offer advice...I'm sure all of you know something...

benjmc
01-22-2003, 03:32 PM
Originally posted by Jerkee
Nice thread, thanks!

Question, have you got any tipps about connecting lyrics with music, and how they have to fit and stuff ?

I might do that, though I don't really know what the problem is. Maybe if you elaborated I could be more helpful. Plus, MarkMac is probably the best person to ask about this particular aspect.

benjmc
01-26-2003, 05:27 PM
So much helpful advice here...this is bound to get everyone started. Ah well...keep it coming...and sticky this or something.:D

benjmc
01-26-2003, 05:38 PM
Jacob is right...I want all the tips so I can compile everything into coherent text...so I really needs some more tips (even though there's plenty to get people started here)...mainly now i need tips for more advanced songwriters. Basically what Pyr0 did...that type of thing...see?

Then...everything will be good...forums will be clean...and we'll have amazing writers. I'll post some more tips during the week...at the minute I'm busy doing a poetry assignment (how appropriate, :D)

benjmc
01-28-2003, 06:32 PM
Basically what was just described is the Paul Simon technique (obviously he's not the only one to do it...but he's the best example I can think of).

You just sing a melody, hum whatever. Then you find the right beat/syllable count/meter. It will then all work it's way into proper English...emotional English.

There is a good article about this...somewhere...this link below...uses Radiohead as an example.

Melody Writing (http://guitar.about.com/library/weekly/aa103199.htm)

I'll post techniques pretty soon...

benjmc
02-04-2003, 03:46 PM
There aren't rules...but there are guidelines...and that's what this thread is about. Like you said...

* put some real feelings into it
* try different things with your lyrics

Maybe slightly obvious, but still good tips/guidelines...

benjmc
02-22-2003, 10:15 AM
Right kids. Stop the fighting...no one's arrogant. And even so, it's a necessary requirement for a lyric writer. I accept that some people don't have "natural" ability. But it is an ability that can be gained by practice, and yes, I've said it too many times, reading.

Syllable Counts/Rhyme

Also, I'd like to elaborate on something I did last night which was rather fun. What did I do last night? I wrote a song with Non Boxed and June...June already had a verse done. So it was easy enough, as we had a distinct pattern and topic et cetera. Then...there were 2 methods we used in order to keep up the rhyming pattern, (which was ""--A--A--A"...which basically means a rhyme every 3 lines and whatever in between). The first was the simplest: we just wrote a verse (of 9 lines) and then at the end swapped the lines around so that we kept the same structure. The other method was easy as well: We found 3 rhyming words, put them at the end of each 3rd lines and then worked everything around it. The 3 words we got were, Gaze, Blaze, and Haze. See there is nothing extravagant about lyric writing. I mean those are primary school words. You can still write decent song...*time for the shock*...which rhyme. Now, most beginning writers will post on here and then have people say "you use too much forced rhyme", which they take to mean, "Never rhyme again you stupid bastard". But no, it's just don't be so obvious about it. If you have a standard binary rhyming scheme, try and put a bit of space between the rhymes...and please, do not overuse rhyming. Don't do something like this (which has 4 rhymes - unfortunately June, Non Boxed and I did have a four rhyme chorus...which we quickly scrapped)...example

Broken and empty along the way
I've now forgotten what i forgot to say
I see the same, it's always a hidden ray
These feelings of loneliness are here to stay.

I mean, apart from the majority of that being pretty poor writing anyway...the 4 line rhyming is just bloody annoying. It?s AAAA...and you don't want that. The most common, yet least forced binary rhyme scheme is ABAB, because there is room for genius in between the rhymes. Anyway, that's just a quick tip.

Also, if you have a melody, then work out how many syllables are in it, and then write everything you have to say, then edit everything so the content is as good as you can get it, and then edit it at the end...again...so that everything can fit into the syllable count (more or less). This is the way you write..."very good" songs. (Which is the category I would put June's song under). You spend time, and you do to the best of your ability. And if you keep on practicing things, in this "technical" way then your ability will continue to improve.

So, get inspired. Find a style (YOUR STYLE...everyone has their own style which they develop over time) try to use some internal rhymes every now and then (something like "Our bottle of gasoline to light the sunken dream" which has two rhyming words contained within one line), and finally spend time, (the song that June wrote with Non boxed and I took roughly 3 to 3Ż hours)

benjmc
02-22-2003, 01:11 PM
Linking Music with Words

So let's assume you have your lyric written. Now you have to find some sort of structure within the lyrics. Standard ones are very simple, like

Intro
Verse
Verse
Chorus
Verse
Chorus
Bridge
Chorus
Outro

Something like that is pretty much conventional. So basically, if you into writing pop/punk then you'd probably have arpeggiated power chords for your verses, then power chords for your chorus, then some sort of descending power chord arpeggio for the bridge.

Or if you were into "deeper" lyrics then you might have strummed chords with small elaborations (fills, bends, slides et cetera) for your verse, then energetic strumming for your choruses; And then some sort of melodic solo for the Bridge. Or for the bridge you could have a solo, which repeats the melody.

But it's crucial that everything locks together. That is why most people will write music first...because it provides a structure upon which to base the lyrics, and that way it is easiest to fit the lyrics into a melody. All you have to do is get the flow and phonetics and syllable count right and then you have a song.

Anyway, the key thing is to have lyrics which actually fit some sort of melody, which is why sometimes you will find it difficult to fit long lyrics into a decent melody. When writing, it's a good idea to stick to words that sound good when sung. It is essential that you have a good melody, as few people will listen to a song that has boring music, poor vocals, dull melody and amazing lyrics.

Anyone else have any tips in this particular field of lyrics writing? (*benjmc looks to Mark*)

benjmc
02-27-2003, 05:27 PM
Reiterating

Anyway...yea, always look over your work to see if it all makes sense. I mean you could end up with one amazing verse.................and then it has nothing to do with rest of the song (*by this stage benjmc is already out the door and walking to the nearest alley*)

So make sure it all flows...make sure there's no senseless gibberish. But most of all...make sure your work is inspired.

Good>Great>Excellent

Some elements which will make an average/good song into an excellent song...heart, passion, soul, energy, inspiration...emotion

Sometimes you'd rather not use a thesaurus because it's easier to convey feelings without the limitations. Express songs with emotion.

benjmc
03-02-2003, 08:05 AM
Rhyme (again)

It is true that some beginning songwriters will use rhyme in order to give them something more to add...they just think "Ride rhymes with lied" and take it from there.
Other people use rhyme in order to help the flow of the song. Recently I wrote a song which rhyme with an AABBCC structure, and I showed it to Non...who claimed it read like a nursery rhyme...and I realised this too...so I changed it to a ABCCDE. Rhyme does help flow, and as previously stated Bob Dylan is a great example of a songwriter who sues rhyme to good effect.
Finally...internal rhymes are used to create a dramatic effect, like the emotion you are trying to convey is overpowering you.
When used properly rhyme adds a great new dimension to a song. However, if used incorrectly it will normally affect the quality of the song. Therefore if you aren't confident in your ability as a songwriter you shouldn't rhyme as much as someone like Bob Dylan.

Inspiration (again)

Inspiration is something that comes to us all in different places...
I like to read, and when I finish a book that if often when I'm most inspired...however I know for a fact that June, and Non don't really read that much...they both prefer to write (so do I...but I need something to write about)...for instance yesterday I got 2/3rd's of the latest book I was reading finished...and then I went into a 3 hours thinking daze.
More inspiration can come from...Emotions (not situations)...situations...or books
Then find a window, look outside of it and look really hard at what you see, then imediately ask yourself what you are feeling. Find a paper, write down the feelings, then turn it into a song/poem later. Write down all that you're feeling...all your anger/spite...all your love/envy...et cetera. And then mould it into a song at a later date when you feel more inspired/more controlled.
Practice writing. Inspiration comes when you least expect it, you just have to learn to listen to that little voice that is giving you ideas...
Find what's real to you. Doesn't matter if it's simple or seems plain, if it's real, you can make it sing.

Some of the above tip was stripped from a response of Non's in some thread...and some was stolen from MarkMac's response in some thread...

Finally...if you have any questions then it would be very helpful if you just posted on this thread and asked...that way everyone can benefit from the answer. Thank you in advance for you co-operation

buzzlikeafridge
02-07-2003, 01:27 PM
ok, im going to start making songwriting lessons on this thread. so prepare yourself for lesson one. if any songwriting info is needed PM me or (if that doesnt suceed) contact me at my e-mail address aky@thefreudianslip.cjb.net.

Lesson 1: Help me! Writing Songs is Hardddddd

The first thing you've got to do is relax. If you think writing a song is going to be hard, of course it's going to be hard. You need to clear everything out of your head including all the doubts of writing the song and concentrate purely on what the song is and what its about. Try and think in your head and figure how you would sing it/play it, remember, you make writing songs more difficult for yourself if you simply start with words on a piece of paper, those words need to mean something in accordance with the music. Let your feelings and your attitude out onto the paper and remember; its not a crime to find sanctity in writing. Writing can calm us and when performing songs, you have to remember that passion you had when the song was wrote otherwise it will be lost. Songs mean something and so do words. You need to convince the listener that what they listen to is relative and enjoyable, comforting and sanctious. Trying to write songs may be hard at first, but once you break through the barrier of fear the songs can just flow. Imagine that all that exists is you, the pen and your feelings you write about. Disregard everything else and writing becomes easy. Don't be afraid, because fear lets you fall into the trap of feeling forced to write. Also, if your first tries dont succeed to much, there is every right to try again. Remember; Rome wasn't built in a day. Songwriting, like any other skill, needs to be worked on and homed on in the right way. If you have only just started writing, consider asking other people for their opinions on your writing and how you could improve it. You could ask your band, a friend, your brother or sister or even put it on a website for critique just like this one and remember to always ask for improvements. You can only improve by yourself at a very slow rate, you have to take into account other people's feelings and so forth on a song. In this way, you bring yourself closer to the heart of the listeners.

buzzlikeafridge
02-07-2003, 03:35 PM
Lesson 2: Catering for your Genre

One of the most important aspects of songwriting is the genre. I write for my band, who play alternative rock music. Just like if I was in a punk band, I would write punk lyrics, and if i was in a metal band i'd write metal lyrics. This is what this lesson is going to be about. Every band is stereotyped into a genre, bands can't help that and it has become an important part of music to decide which genre you are. When you first start a band you want to know the genre and want to know which music you want to write for. So, What genre are you?
Metal, Punk, Mainstream Rock, Pop, Indie, Alternative, Hardcore, Blues, Funk, Dance etc etc, each has a different writing style. All are very different, despite how similar some may seem and writing for genres can be surprising. For example, writing Alternative lyrics can be very similar to writing metal lyrics. And despite how some lyrics may seem simpler and easier than others (ie. pop-punk), each artist sticks with it's genre (apart from experimentation) and each delivers exactly what the audience demand. Don't be closed from trying to write different styles of writing though, When I started writing over 2 years ago I wrote mostly punk/grunge lyrics. Since them, I have tried my hand at a lot of things, from piano ballards to all out alt. metal. The truth is, you write what you and your band and your audience demand and if you feel pressured, you know you have to do something different. So try it and see how it goes. There is, after all, no harm in trying. So, what are these so called writing styles? Well firstly there's Punk, this writing style has often been critiscised as being too simple and too repetative. Yet those are the things that punk lyrics revolve around; simplicity and repetativeness. The whole attitude of punk is a "dont care" one, which also has to be repeated in punk lyrics. Punks need to relate to the music, and the best way they can get that is from the lyrics around them being familiar and almost written by them. Punk demands simplicity and therefore simplicity can be more an artistic statement than rubbish. Yet, punk can be spoiled by being too simple with a forced punk spirit. You have to include raw in those lyrics, rawness and passion and bitter emotion which helps the punk fan relate themselves to the music. Like for example, Jacob's example of Blink 182. A lot of people consider Blink 182 still punk, but really they are the easy way for 12-year-olds to get into "Punk" because the lyrics are similar to the pop music they heard before. If Blink made albums like they did when they released "Cheshire Cat" and "Dude Ranch", maybe they wouldnt be as popular as they are, but they would earn more respect aswell as being more loyal to their audience. This doesn't mean I like Blink, I'm speaking in retrospect as a fan, so if this is wrong don't blame me, but it's important to stay focused with what you want to do and what your audience want when writing for any genre, and this includes Punk. Metal lyrics however, can be disputed into many ways in how you write them. You can take the easy way and put simple lyrics into a flurry of hate and malice in your performance. This is a commonplace in Nu and Goth Metal. The metal fans can relate to them, can sing along to them and still feel inside of themselves feelings reflected within the music. What's important in metal music is to have an important hook. If you have this hook, then your listener has something to rip things to while shaking his/her hair back and forth. Power chords, or barre chords are used for a fast effect, in some retrospects, to create a whirlwind where feelings are accessible to the listener and hatred is "aware". For example, a nu-metal band such as Korn, bases their playing around a flurry of guitar playing and simple lyrics with a hook ("going blind", "here to stay") which the nu-metal fan can jump around to and sing along to while hating himself and feeling he is important in the process. However, there is of course more obscure metal, "true" metal some people call it (i'm looking at you morbid) and pure "hate" metal. These bands dont rely as much on hooks and dont rely as much on simple lyrics. In fact their lyrics are complex, challenging and unnerving. They want to make people afraid of them, they want people to relate to them, they want people to feel the spirit of "true" metal inside them. Quite a few "old-skool" metal fans have turned to "true" metal in an attempt to get rid of the other, currently more popular version of metal. This is because these lyrics are complex, personal and hateful. You have to remember when writing these lyrics what people want to here. You can't just waste away using power chords and 4-word lines, you have to move your words through like poetry. That is what "true metal" is based around.
The final most important genre of lyrics which relates to people on this forum is alternative and this is where I see myself as excelling, as it is my own genre. When writing alternative, you have to base your lyrics around feeling and consequence. Imagine situations or think of them for yourself, anything goes, yet personality often gives a more distinct and comforting feel to the alternative listner. A lot of alternative depends on the backbeat, you have to keep your lyrics in time with the beat and move the words about almost like a dance. Use clever language, but not too clever, and always feature a meaning behind your songs. Remember it is the most important feature in alternative lyric writing, and all writing in fact to relate to the listener. The listener demands a closer look, a look inside your head, a look inside the situation and a look over life itself. Philosophy is important in alternative aswell, you need to let the listener know what you think and demand them to question their beliefs. A softness is required to, you have to be able to share your heart and to tell stories about your heart and make listeners feel like they could be in that same position, simply by listening to the music. A lot of alternative songwriting is based around major chords mixed in with obscure chords at the top of the bridge. In alternative the most simple rythm can go and the most complex one can, yet they both have to have some feeling behind them. By being too clever, you can make your music end up sounding mechanical, and alt listeners do not want this. Influences are important in Alternative, yet you must remember to move away from copying. No matter how much someone has liked a band just because you sound like them doesnt mean they will respect you. Take Oasis for example, a lot of alt listeners treat Oasis in contempt because they take half their music straight from the creators of alternative themselves, The Beatles. And another fault with Oasis is that they just try to make songs to try and equal ones they have previously done and not try and make better ones. This is where you can fall into a songwriting trap. To enter the next song with an anticipation that you can make a song which is better than anything you've wrote before can actually make you do it. To make a song with accepting defeat beforehand that it'll never be as good as another song makes the song sound boring, unoriginal and really, a song a tribute band would simply make. Alternative listeners do not want a song which sounds like one you made before, they want fresh and they want knew. If you don't give it to them they'll loose interest. Take for example, Oasis. Theyre song "Little By Little" uses exactly the same chords as "Wonderwall" and even has a similar melody. Now this song has enjoyed mainstream success yet it has been proven in alternative magazines of late that many alt. Oasis fans are losing patience with their repetativeness and their boringness. Where as Billy Corgan, after enjoying mainstream success with the Smashing Pumpkins, is now enjoying more mainstream success with new alt band Zwan, who, while still resembling the Pumpkins sound, make fresh, new songs that don't bore the listener and appeal to him rather than boring him. The lifeline of alt music is to be original and thats the best thing you can do to your fans. To go into a song and make it better and better and better, this is exactly what alt fans demand. If you don't satisfy their demands, thats where it starts to go wrong. Always question yourself when writing lyrics and imagine who it is for and how it will attract people. Never forget that you have an audience, never forget that you are part of that audience aswell.

I hope this has helped you write with your genre, but remember the ultimate judge on writing lyrics is YOU. Not your idols, not your friends, YOU. And the best thing to do in lyrics is to be yourself because thats what people love most about good music.

buzzlikeafridge
02-07-2003, 06:22 PM
Originally posted by monkeyguy629
KICK ASS LESSONS MAN!!! NICE!!!

Also, I'm working on a "Writings of Weezer" article for those geek/emo rockers out there (wow I sounded like a fag...) any other bands that I could feature an article on?

erm well the guitarist in my band keeps on talking about this nirvana-writing technique his guitar teacher told him and he's made some decent songs out of it so maybe you could look up that?

lessons 3 & 4 should be up in the next few days folks :D

jackpot
02-04-2003, 08:51 PM
I think the best advice is to write and see what comes out. Then write some more. And more. And more. As with anything, practice can only make you better. And you only get out what you put in. Your first song will be rubbish. Your twentieth song will be a lot better.

Also, try recording yourself singing your songs, and listen to them. It won't be pleasant at first, but pretty soon you'll realise how you can make your songs better.

Lastly, ignore every single piece of advice you've ever been given on how to write a song. The world does not need another Blink 182, another Nirvana or another Camper Van Beethoven. The world needs a new you.

jackpot
02-09-2003, 09:33 PM
Originally posted by MarkMac
Of course there are rules you can follow. That's why there are things such as basic chord progressions. There are musical truths that can be broken, but they do exist.

If there's one thing i couldn't stand when i was a beginner, it was big headed guitar players who never gave any helpful advice. "There are no rules" "Write what you feel." "Just sit there and let it come to you." NONE OF THIS HELPS A BEGINNER. He's still just as lost as when he first approached you and you just made him feel more stupid because nothing "just comes to him."


Maybe if nothing comes to him then he doesn't really have the ability to write a song. Songwriting can be learned, but there's got to be some kind of natural ability involved as well. It's similar with sport. I always really wanted to be good at football (or soccer for the Americans present). However, I wasn't naturally gifted at football. I could have practised every day, but I knew deep down that I could never be any good at football. Some people just aren't very good and will never be very good at some things, it's a simple fact. Sorry if this upsets anyone.
The fact is, the first time I wrote a song, I sat down with a guitar and it all flowed naturally. Some people aren't lucky enough for this to happen. I know from experience that if ever I've tried to force a song to be written, it's been rubbish.
I know the advice sometimes isn't very helpful, but it's always honest.

jackpot
02-20-2003, 10:46 PM
Originally posted by MarkMac


And Jackpot, that is the most arrogant thing I've heard a musician say. So if music doesn't hit you on day one you should quit trying to be a songwriter? I mean, even if you don't write well it doesn't mean that you shouldn't write. You need to encourage people to do better all the time. After all, if it ever reaches the point that they can't go any further musically (be it writing or playing), they'll decide for themselves if they want to stick things out at their talent level or not.

If that was the most arrogant thing you've heard a musician say you should probably get out more.

I never said that people who didnt write well should just give up. I said that some people simply aren't naturally good at some things. It's not offensive or arrogant, cos it's true.

Pyr0
01-22-2003, 03:55 PM
THE EXTRA SPICE

This is all the stuff that makes a good song a great song. I've tried to give examples, but these things are hard to pin down, because of the deep psychology.:)

OK, here we go.

1. Turn of phrase or cliche's

You can use popular phrases or cliche's to your advantages by putting them in your lyrics but changing them. People will notice this... for example in U2's "One"

I can't be holding on
To what you got,
When all you got is hurt

The Cooper Temple Clause have a song called "Who needs Enemies When You Got Friends" - but CAREFUL. don't base a whole song around a cliche'd title.

2. Imagery and Similies

Really good imagery gives an image similar to the one the music behind it does. You don't think of clanking metal chains when you read the lyrics to Hanson, and you don't when you hear the way they play either. Check out 'Yesterday Went Too Soon' by Feeder:

i'm climbing high, up above the streets and rows of neon lights, i'm holding out my hand but i'm alone

a victim of regret, it glitters and it fades away like silver turning grey

3. Repetition of words in phrases

Only good if it makes sense..you'll see what i mean in Pet Name by they might be giants...

You said love was just a lie, but i could tell that you were lying

and in Aqualung's Strange And Beautiful:

Sometimes, the last thing you want comes in first,
Sometimes, the first thing you want never comes
I know, waiting is all you can do...sometimes.


I hope i explained them all OK, its really just something you gotta FEEL, get inspiration for...but try it.

FenderPlaya15
01-21-2003, 09:41 PM
great advice

monkeyguy629
01-18-2003, 01:17 AM
Alright, ben asked for my help (actually I kinda talked him into it) so here's the tips on writing "Punk"

Punk

Punk is a fairly simplistic form of writing. Very easy. For the most part, it does not involve much metaphorical thinking. Punk is mainly split up into three sections: Pop-Punk, Normal People (Emo, etc.) Punk, and Hardcore Punk.

Pop-Punk

This would definately be the easiest out of... just about anything... it doesn't involve a lot of thinking, and really is not a "true" form of Punk, in my opinion, this includes things like post-Dude Ranch Blink, post Insomniac Green Day, and ALL NFG and Good Charlotte, although these bands have different genres in themselves. There aren't many metaphors involved, and a lot of it involves love songs and stupid songs.

Love/Punk Songs

Now, when Punk came about, let me tell you, this was not what they had in mind. This is stuff like the Blink song "Untitled":

I think of a while ago,
We might have had it all,
I was so stupid then
You needed time to grow
But now just as things change
As well my feelings do
In times things rearrange
I am so sick of chasing you

But what do I get
Cause I just seem to lose
You make me regret
Those times I've spent with you
And playing those games
As I wait for your call
Now I give up
So goodbye and so long.

Let me tell you one thing, it does not take a genius to figure out this song. It is just so... out there... so broad, so very simplistic. No metaphors. At all. And very easy to write, just start with a topic about a girl, write like a page of your thoughts on her, and then rearrange lines, is my helpful hint.

Normal (Emo, etc.) Punk

Now this is some good stuff, I'm just going to refer you to the first post (Mark's "Emo" description) because seriously, he did a REALLY good job with that. I mean that's one of the best desciptions of a genre that I may have ever seen. This includes a whole range of bands (the writing style, anyway) from like Jimmy Eat World to Weezer to Dashboard Confessional. All pretty good.

Hardcore Punk

Now this isn't especially hard to write, considering a lot of it is fairly nonsensical, but its a lot of b***hing about things out of your control, such as the government, people, and the ever popular "The System". Mostly, and its pretty much the same as Pop-Punk in this sense, that I suggest just taking a piece of paper out and writing down all of your frustrations, pick the one you like the most, and then write about that. It comes pretty naturally, especially if you are an angry person.

Just my tips for the day.

Jacob

monkeyguy629
01-24-2003, 08:55 PM
The Writings of Blink 182

Disclaimer: These writings are meant as a tool to help Blink-imitators out there, and contain many formed opinions by myself, Jacob. This is nothing more than an opinion article; do not take it too seriously. This also contains many of the (article) authors own formed ideas and thoughts on the interpretations on these songs, and most likely will not match how readers originally thought of them to be.

One of the most popular no-core ?punk? bands out there is Blink 182. With simple guitars and simple lyrics, they did not have to do much to get where they are, however, there are many local bands out there that try their hardest to imitate the rich-daddy California boys.

Cheshire Cat
Small time beginnings.

Their first release album, Cheshire Cat, was definitely their most musically talented record (as far as guitar and bass, which the bassist is still just a joke.) A 13-real, 3-crap track album, this sticks out in many of the true punk?s mind as their ?best? album. Lyrically, it is nothing special. They did not work very hard to perfect their lyrics, but it did contain some very interesting meaning and thoughts. Throughout the CD, at most there are some very weak metaphors (Touchdown Boy) but most are non-sensical, holding no true theme (Sometimes, Strings + Fentoozler.) However, in almost all songs they do try and depict some sort of a message. Here are a few examples.

Strings

I would do anything,
And that?s what scares me so bad
Don?t want to live my life alone
Don?t want to go back to what I had
Don?t want to spend my life without
All those special things
Don?t want to walk around being tied to
Anyone else?s strings.

These are the entire lyrics to the song, repeated over, an interesting method of writing the song, however though was basically an easy way out for the lazy man. The song holds a small metaphor in the sense of being a puppet controlled by an outside force, not god but perhaps a friend or girl that always needs to have their way. It is an interpretation of the writer trying to break free of a ?life of misery? which does not apply to Blink who grew up in the sunny state of California.

Romeo and Rebecca

(Verse Two)

We?ve all seen the bridge?
A broken seam and a girl on one side
You think your words will work
They only work when you lay down
And close your eyes
I thought up all the lines
All the right ones used at all the wrong times
But that?s alright
Depression?s just a sarcastic state of mind

This is an interesting song, and I think it?s pretty well written. It holds one of my personal favorite quotes, ?Depression?s just a sarcastic state of mind.? It?s so true? depressed people are always looking for attention. (But don?t get me wrong, for that applies to me, too, Mr. Depressed Depressed-pressed.) Personally to my thoughts, any song written about a girl are not punk, for punk was originally created to be rebellious, and a simple explanation for my thoughts here is, how can you be rebellious when you are singing about the same topic as N Sync? However, this song applies to everyone, the love song image, especially the ?I thought up?? part, kind of makes you laugh but you realize that it?s quite true. However, the first two lines in my opinion were searching too hard. Basically kids, if you are aiming to make a Cheshire Cat style song, just go off and b***h about whatever first comes into your mind.

Dude Ranch
The end of an era.

Their second album, 15 tracks long but goes by quick, is pretty similar to Cheshire Cat in its lyrics, but getting a little poppier in its use of special effect type things (echo, etc.)

Pathetic

(Chorus)

Don?t pull me down, this is where I belong
I think I?m different, but I?m the same and I?m wrong
Don?t pull me down, this is where I belong
I think I?m different? this is where I belong.

The reason I only placed the chorus is because the rest of the song applies to everything that Romeo and Rebecca is. Also, take note that THIS CHORUS SUCKS! True, it has a very nice thought to it, but it is so simply written that my 8-year-old brother could do it (and I don?t have an eight year old brother.) I mean they wrote two lines (quite simple lines if you ask me) and chopped, diced, and repeated them. Now, if there is one thing that shows your lack of lyrical ability, that is repeating a line! I mean repeating a chorus is ok, it brings the whole song together, but repeating lines, especially that close together just shows you are lazy and can?t think of anything better that can explain what point you are trying to send across.

I?m Sorry

Don?t bide your time
?Cause it is almost over
And I know you?re down
I?ll see you around
And I know it hurts
But you?re just getting older
And I know you?ll win
You?ll do it once again

Awwwww??? this is really a beautiful song in my opinion. From the guitar to the lyrics (to the sound of Tom?s shrill shrieking) it is all around one of Blink?s most emotional pieces. I mean you can tell that he really meant what he was saying, and it all flows together too, all the lines fit in with each other. Very uplifting, kind of depressing but it really gets the purpose of the song across. Truly amazing, if you ask me, that this would come from Blink *rolls eyes*.

Dude Ranch is a very talented Lyrical album, but I only have space for 5,000 more characters, and this is mainly just to show you what not to do in songs. We now enter the Poppy McPop Pop phase of Blink.

Enema of the State
The beginning of a slow death.

Filled with computer-generated everything, a so-so guitarist, an amazing drummer and a s**t bass, Enema of the State was the start of their downfall from sort-of Punk to screaming poser state. Need I say more??

All The Small Things

(Chorus-Verse Bridge)

Na na na na na na na na na
Na na na na na na na na na na
Na na na na na na na na na na
Na na na na na na na na na na.

?

What more do I have to say? The lack of creativity is just astounding, the poppyness is over the edge, and this little part of a song in itself is what caused me to hate Blink as people. I mean I seriously don?t know what to say? This is so bad there are not words to describe it. You?re just doing to have to pretend to understand my bitter anger towards this song, which the rest of the song, also sucks, all about a girl and NOTHING MORE! No metaphors, similes, creativity or anything.

Take Off Your Pants and Jacket
A hot, steaming pile of s**t.

Now, on this CD, I have no choice but to let my personal feelings toward the record be introduced into this section of an article. As a listener of (real) punk, this album was so disappointing that I had to but a copy just so I could throw it a few times (not really, but you catch my drift). I feel that they sold out. Now many people will disagree with that (duh) but in my opinion, those people either are not punk or are teenybopper a-cup screaming girls. This album is just so against the true meaning of punk, the anti-america, that it was truly a disappointment to have to sit through. Keep in mind that it?s not all bad, there are a couple a nice songs, the anti-conformity Anthem Part II, and the classic description of the high school lifestyle Reckless Abandon, but they are muddled behind the pop-love songs First Date and Rock Show (this may sound familiar to any of you that read my review of TOYPAJ (all four of you.))

What Went Wrong

I can?t forgive
I can?t forget
Can?t give in
What went wrong?
?Cause you said this was right
You f**ked up my life.

Meh? I really hate to drag on this song because with the acoustic, clarinet and the way Tom used his voice, this is truly a beautiful (music-wise) song, not to mention the fact that it was the only song they did right at the Pop Disaster Tour, but lyrically, this song is pretty rancid. First of all, it?s a whining song. No one (me) don?t like to hear a song whining about how a girl screwed with Tom?s brain, considering how much his voice on it?s own whines naturally. Now some may argue that songs complaining about how messed up the government is could technically be whining, but they don?t mean it to whine, they mean it to make a change in society. This isn?t aiming to change anything; this is just a song in which he wants to whine. Not to mention the fact that the lyrics themselves are not well crafted either. This section of the song really makes no sense in itself, its just really explaining what goes on in relationships and yet lacks any explanation at all. ?You f**ked up my life?? That?s nice. But it doesn?t help any, it doesn?t explain any, and it does not appeal to many people.



I have a theory though. Blink never really went through tough times in their life, they lived in California, and everything was handed to them on a silver platter (disregarding the entire divorce situations of the families.) I guess what I?m saying is that Blink lacks the life experience to know what really goes wrong with society, and that would be fine if they didn?t call themselves punk and write songs contradicting that. But I do hope that there was some part in this article that helped you either write or not write like Blink 182.

Jacob

(Feedback on this article, either PM me or e-mail me at monkeyguy629@aol.com, screen name monkeyguy629. It would be muchly appreciated. (Not including ?f**k you, Blink kicks you?re a**? responses, of course.)

monkeyguy629
01-26-2003, 05:30 PM
from what i understand, this is going to be eventually compiled into one giant article, so if you have any tips, post them!! this will not only be super-helpful it'll clean up all those "how do i write super depressing etc." threads that everyone hates.... so keep em coming -- thanks to ben for lifting this off

jacob

monkeyguy629
02-04-2003, 09:39 PM
Hey I like this guy :D

He's right, there are no rules. Thsi is just to help people write in a certian way, not content wise but general gist of songs. This is just some help. But I think we could learn some hints from this guy.

Wuv,
Jacob

monkeyguy629
02-07-2003, 05:27 PM
KICK ASS LESSONS MAN!!! NICE!!!

Also, I'm working on a "Writings of Weezer" article for those geek/emo rockers out there (wow I sounded like a fag...) any other bands that I could feature an article on?

monkeyguy629
02-08-2003, 12:09 AM
Originally posted by buzzlikeafridge
erm well the guitarist in my band keeps on talking about this nirvana-writing technique his guitar teacher told him and he's made some decent songs out of it so maybe you could look up that?


Do that I will

monkeyguy629
02-21-2003, 05:10 PM
Hey kids, no fighting.

monkeyguy629
03-09-2003, 07:40 PM
Alrigth, well I'm going to post a redirect from here to the "Archives" forum just so people can read this in there too, cause this is on of the "best threads" that belong in tehre... I think... I hope...

Wuv,
Jacob

Slut
01-26-2003, 05:41 PM
Read and write poetry.


I think a good song should be poetic, and to be
a poetic song you need poetry.
So read and write poetry.

I make alot of my songs with lines from my poems,
like Kurt did, I steal from my poems.



Look at art.


Art is a great inspiration, drawings, paintings, etc.
You can see a picture and write about it, just like
writing about whats out your window.


Listen to songs with lyrical talent


YOU NEED THE INSPIRATION DANGIT!

phobeus
02-04-2003, 03:24 PM
Ok that's it I'm sick and tired of people saying that there are rules to wrighting lyrics. The truth is there are no rules. thats what makes song writing so good. I can be about personal problems but no one wants to hear a punk sing about " just how bad or good life is." put some real feelings into it. I don't care about your day or an old freind. I'm not a heavy metal junky but as an example Mudvayne's lyrics are extraordinary. But they talk about the end of the world and abondoning all hope. that doesn't mean the world has ended for them... in fact life is good for them. they play those songs because its there style and its good. and Kid rocks new duet with country sound. He hasn't cheated on any wife to say its just an idea that produced a great song. The lyrics in these forums are lacking. This is a challenge to all you writters to try different things with your lyrics and post them. Hell my lead guitarist is from napal so we sing a song in napoli and damn do they have a great language.:mad: :mad: :mad:

phobeus
02-05-2003, 12:04 PM
Thank you monkeyguy629... ;) some times I have trouble getting that statment through. I've been writing songs for about 8 years now and I'm going to be posting some of them at UG here pretty soon so look for them. I always take critism.

*Def*
01-19-2003, 05:07 PM
some lyrics can't be written with rules and guidelines, but this sure helps.

It takes me ages to finish lyrics, especially since I don't want to create terrible lyrics.

most of my stuff is emoish/hardcorish, I don't care about rhyme to much.

but I do want to thank you for putting this up, it will probably help me.

lacklustre
02-18-2003, 03:33 AM
Non boxed, I completely agree with your statements about originality and creativity, because I think anyone with half a brain can write a coherent song about their ex-girlfriend and how it made them sad. My only problem is with what you said about abstract lyrics. When you write using words that only my english prof is going to understand, you lose alot of your audience due to their not attending your concert with a dictionary. When a person writes at such a high level it comes across as rather pretentious and somewhat arrogant. What person thinks to themselves "I'm feeling rather melancholy"? Not too many. I've always thought that music was about establishing a bond between artist and audience. The level of lyricism you use should reflect on your audience.
Blues music is relatively simple but it can really pull at your heart strings, so don't assume that to be a good songwriter you also have to be a human dictionary.

lacklustre
02-18-2003, 03:39 AM
nothing to do with what i just wrote:
I would tend to disagree with the statement that a song must be based upon some strong feelings. Most songs are based upon a feeling of anger, lust, sadness, greed, etc. but inspiration can come from a totally inanimate source. My fave example would have to be "Good Morning Captain" by Slint, or most of anything by Liars. It may come across with a certain emotion attached, but that's due to the listeners perception. Write about your favorite book, take a concept and create something from it.

lacklustre
02-23-2003, 02:16 AM
Ben, your "syllable counts" tip was great, but with music you really only need a rough syllable count versus a strict one which is necessary in poetry. I know most songs are effectively poetry set to music, but you get a little more leeway in regards to syllables/line in a song vs. in a poem.
i don't have an example (And i'm not going to make on up, because it will be terrible), but i think you all get what i'm trying to say.

MarkMac
01-28-2003, 10:12 AM
My biggest tip: If you start on a song, finish it. It'll give you the discipline necessary to be a good writer.

Thing about creative people is that we all have one thousand ideas. In fact, if you don't have one thousand ideas, you're probably not cut out to be a writer.

But getting an idea, a catchy melody, an interesting lyric is easy, it's a dime a dozen. The men are separated from the boys once you get the ability to see the idea through to its logical end, and not just a hurried one.

MELODY

Since many have already touched on lyrics, I'll touch on melody writing. Now I will admit up front that I write with a sort of pop sense in my head. If its not catchy, I don't care. I've met folk singers who deliberately sing monotonously and out of rhythm because they say that in this way, the lyrics come out more since there's no melody to dominate the tune. One common criticism I get from these people are my melodies are "too strong", I have to remove the catchiness from them. Well, to hell with that. I never liked wearing black and hanging out in Starbucks anyway. Plus though I won't eat tuna, I won't write a song about it.

Alright, so you've got a progression and you want to make a song. First thing to do is listen to it. Does it already dictate a melody? Can you already tell that it should have a high, lilting line rising above the intrumentation, or is it gruff and near discordant?

Now I play with an acoustic guitar and one of my first rules with prgressions is that you always have to make it sound interesting, even without words. Take your progression and see if you can use alternate grips. I've always said that you should know three different ways of fingering the same chord, that way you can really create feel with different holds of the same chord.

Only difference with electric and acoustic with regard to this practice is while with the acoustic, I prefer having more open strings so they ring more, with an electric, you can actually use three strings and mute the rest. Pedal effects will give you fullness.

Once you've got your progression straight, commit it to memory then you can start making a melody line. My advice to the beginner is always to just hum or better yet, create nonsense words. I use only L, H, N and T with the vowel sounds sometimes to explore melodical possibilities.

Generally, I like to imagine myself writing classical music. You know, no words but just notes that impart the feeling you want. Sooner or later, words (or even gibberish) will just flow, don't mind first if it makes sense or not. What you're trying to do is build stanzas that properly "catch", and a chorus that properly "releases". Usually, your chorus needs to be the point where the emotion comes together and this should reflect in your melody.

Even as you're eventually finding words, keep changing them to find the vowel or consonant sound that works best. Also, just keep talking and singing, you never know when you might just stumble on to the perfect line that is perfectly connected to your melody.

So there, just start mouthing off melodies but feel the emotion that you want. You'll soon get what the correct onomatopeic sense of your song is. If you're making a punk song, just start screaming but make it sound right and you'll be able to eventually fit in words that will carry that correct screaming sound you want. If you're writing EMO, just let yourself fall into your angst and mumble whatever, but mumble it melodically. Later on, you'll fill those words in correctly too.

And don't be afraid to use simple words to say big things. Don't listen to people who say that talking about your girlfriend, or your heartbreak, or your family problems are boring and cliche. These are the themes that have held true to people for thousands of years and will continue to hold true for thousands more.

You have to write what you know and keep at it. To create lyrics about arbitrary matters simply for the sake of using flowery words is a mistake. Just be one of those wordsmith poets. If you feel your lyrics, you'll feel a melody as well. This is why the best writers are all tortured in mind in some way, shape or form because they bleed for what they do. And even those who write simpler pop, still have the ability to connect to an aspect of themselves that lesser writers don't.

In the end, it's just a matter of being able to say what you feel. But the fact is, most people cannot do this.

MarkMac
01-28-2003, 09:15 PM
One more thing you'll want to do as you start writing songs: Figure out your strengths.

Take a good long look at you, or your band, and be very honest with what you have to work with. What your band likes to play should definitely dictate what you write. If that's not what you want to write, then you should really think about going to another band as this will only create turmoil if you keep writing stuff they don't like.

If your guitarist is good, then make stuff that gives him room to create strong arpeggios. If your drummer and/or bassist is good, make stuff that is beat-driven. My own band has a really talented fiddler (he got into Julliard) so a lot of times we let him dictate the instrumental movements and I don't make melodies that are too rough as to counter the symphonic power of a violin.

But most important is to study the voice of the singer. That will dictate your overall sound. Is it rough and grating? Then you'll sound heavy. Is it mellow and melancholic? Is it happy and fun? Your singer's voice will also determine much of your instrumentation. You don't want to drown out a singer with a soft, warbly voice inasmuch as you don't want to hamstring a belter with quiet undertones.

I like to think that its songs that look for certain singers so its useless to force someone whose voice doesn't fit the melody to sing it.

MarkMac
02-09-2003, 02:38 AM
Originally posted by phobeus
Ok that's it I'm sick and tired of people saying that there are rules to wrighting lyrics. The truth is there are no rules.

Of course there are rules you can follow. That's why there are things such as basic chord progressions. There are musical truths that can be broken, but they do exist.

If there's one thing i couldn't stand when i was a beginner, it was big headed guitar players who never gave any helpful advice. "There are no rules" "Write what you feel." "Just sit there and let it come to you." NONE OF THIS HELPS A BEGINNER. He's still just as lost as when he first approached you and you just made him feel more stupid because nothing "just comes to him."

It's like when I read the guitar instruction forum, whatever the question, you'll always find someone who'll say that you should just practice more. The thread about singing and playing was like that. Everyone just said practice, practice, practice...

Yes, of course that's true but I think most of the beginners already know that they need to practice. What a Sherlock Holmes you must be to say that you need to practice to get better at guitar... What beginners need is someone to sort of point the right direction, that's all. A little focus. Something more substantial than, "There are no rules." That doesn't help at all.

You can talk that way with other more accomplished guitarists and writers since you all already know the basics. When you're trying to help people out, give them something they can understand and go with so that eventually, they can figure out their own way, their own style.

MarkMac
02-11-2003, 02:28 AM
Yeah, I was the one that said that you should always finish your songs, but that's the trick, isn't it? It's tough to finish a song without forcing any lyrics but that's what you have to do. It's all well and good to be creative and stuff but music is full of people who don't, or honestly can't, finish what they start.

But Agincourt illustrates my point perfectly. An idea is easy. You can come up with tons of ideas. To see that idea to completion is another matter.

If you have any true talent, you've got to be a closer and have that ability to finish a cohesive entire piece of work. Because a hundred half-songs doesn't mean squat.

The fact of the matter is that if you have good ideas, there is a way to finish each one. In those hundred half-songs (assuming they have a good musical idea) there lies a hundred full songs. Real ability is when you can find the rest of it, that which isn't so obvious.

And Jackpot, that is the most arrogant thing I've heard a musician say. So if music doesn't hit you on day one you should quit trying to be a songwriter? I mean, even if you don't write well it doesn't mean that you shouldn't write. You need to encourage people to do better all the time. After all, if it ever reaches the point that they can't go any further musically (be it writing or playing), they'll decide for themselves if they want to stick things out at their talent level or not.

stargirl
02-17-2003, 03:54 PM
Your writing will really benifit if you can relate your feelings to a very abstract object instead of a same old same old every day object. Again, people are used to same old same old every day objects... so you might get a "cool", but never a "whoa..." with same old same old objects. If you think of an object, ask yourself if you would encounter it in a normal day. If the answer is yes, try to think of a different object.

i think this is a good tip...but i think you can still elicit a 'whoa' from using everyday objects. i try to do this more because it makes people think about things in a completely different way. or i use something so completely mundane that no one else would think twice about using it for a song. if you take something ordinary and put in an extraordinary situation or give it an extraordinary significance then it can make a song awesome.


about being original and creative...i was talking to my expressive arts teacher once and i was explaining how everytime i write i feel it's something new and then i read it through and realise it's pretty much the same message as every other time, and he told me that can be a good thing. just because you're writing about the same thing, doesn't mean everything you write about that subject has to be exactly the same. he told me that great writers sometimes write the same books over and over again, just as great songwriters will write the same songs over and over again. it's just because they're written in such different ways, even though the underlying theme is the same, people see them as completely separate, new and original pieces of work.

Jerkee
01-22-2003, 08:56 AM
Nice thread, thanks!

Question, have you got any tipps about connecting lyrics with music, and how they have to fit and stuff ?

Agincourt18
02-10-2003, 02:17 AM
Hey, I'll throw in my two sense. Someone said in this thread to always finsih your songs. That's something I rarely do. Sure it's good to finish what you start, but that'll also force the lyrics. I have hundreds of half-finished songs sitting on my hard drive. When inspiration gives me a line or two I'll write it down, but I won't try to force a song around it. I'll play with it in my head until I get something that I like or I leave it sit, come back to it, or possibly never use it again. A plus for this "method" is that I can sometimes combine two 'half-songs' and get a good song out of it.

One more tip I have. For a psychology class I did a review paper on mental illness and drug abuse in prolific authors and poets. Turns out, a majority of them aren't quite all there or they're lumpy drunk most of the time. What the author suggests, and I totally agree with, is that a mental illness (e.g. Panic disorder, manic-depressive) or drug abuse tends to alter the perception of the reality for the writer. In fact genius of one sort or the other is usually coupled with a mental disorder. Now I'm not suggesting you become an alcoholic, drug addict, or go insane, but your song writing could improve if you look at the world in a different way, rather than just trying to describe it in a different way. Maybe you've already got a really unique perspective on the world - capitalize on that. You might end up writing a really good song on why everybody is upside down and you're the only one who is right standing on your hands. That's probably a really horrible suggestion, but I hope you get the idea.

Agincourt18
02-11-2003, 03:29 AM
I see your point as well, and hopefully there exists somewhere a happy medium, which of course is different for everybody. I don't mean to say I have hundreds of half written songs. I'd call them more -ideas that didn't make the cut. If I get a good idea, it'll get written, but I try not to waste time forcing something that probably won't make it. But to each his own.

Non Boxed
01-17-2003, 07:35 PM
Nice post.

I know lyrics are going to differ from genre to genre, but that doesnt mean punk and emo songs all have to be about your girlfriend breaking up with you. Get creative! You could write a song about the taste of pepsi.

Now I'm not talking about writing:

Pepsi is the best drink ever
I love it with all my heart
Stop drinking Pepsi? Never
This soda and I won't part

It soudns funny, doesnt it? To me it sounds exactly like blink182 and most other pop/punk bands.

Why? Because they are both literal, and uncreative. Wouldnt it be more interesting to hear something like this:

refreshing soul and mind
within the sweetness you will find
i crave that energy burst
empty can of life is worst

Doesnt that sound more catchy? It grabs you, and actually makes you THINK about what the song is saying. In this case, it is about the great taste and sugar high of pepsi, and dissapointment when you are all out. It is still emotional, just with a whole new perspective.

Writing about pepsi the first way is definitely easier, but ask yourself this: Do you want to write a song easily, or write a song well?

Non Boxed
01-17-2003, 08:08 PM
Yes. If you TELL the listener what to think, it is boring. If you leave it to metaphors and creativity, the listener has to actually listen and interpret the song.

Non Boxed
01-19-2003, 05:00 PM
Sure punk and pop/punk is mostly non-metaphorical and simple, but that doesnt mean people should limit themselves to writing punk songs that are simple and uncreative. It is EVER so possible to write creatively about even love/punk songs..

I just thought of a better way to explain "Get Creative!"

Instead of TELLING me something, I want you to make me SEE it in my mind. Good lyrics will make you SEE and FEEL things. Strive for that when trying to convey your message.

Non Boxed
02-15-2003, 11:32 PM
Originality
I find myself saying "its unoriginal" or "its uncreative" a lot in the lyrics forum.. Let me try to elaborate what originality is and where you can find it, and how to use it in your songs.

First of all, you definitely want to avoid cliche lines and concepts, such as the "falling" or the "walls are closing in." Listen to some Linkin Park and Korn, to find out what NOT to do. Pretty much every Linkin Park and Korn songs say the same freaking things, and they are so typical. You DO NOT want to write typical and the same thing.

Simple, easy to understand lyrics arent always great. You aren't writing for anyone else except you. If you are, perhaps you are writing for some sell-out pop crap and it doesnt matter if what you write is good or not. Otherwise, you should not be concerned if anyone else understands your writing, as long as it has meaning to you. If it is complex and has no meaning to you, thats just as pointless as having simple lyrics with no meaning.

About simplicity, let me rant a bit on this. I am no fan of blink-style stuff. I think its a load of crap. Why? The simplicity of the lyrics leave no room for interpretation. They tell the listener what to think, rather than the listener finding a meaning in the song themselves. While you dont need to use big words and insanely complex metaphors to have a non-simple song, you should definitely stray from the same old same old every day language. If you use same old same old every day language in your song, I guarantee that no one will get the "whoa..." feeling after they read your song. You might get a "cool," but you wont leave anyone in awe, because everyone is used to same old same old every day language.

Where do you find something original to write about? Right inside of you. Feelings are with you at all times of the day, so why not listen to them? Once you have a feeling you want to express, think of an object that reminds you of that feeling, and then make that object come to life. It takes lots of practice, but the results are amazing. You could even just sit down whenever you have a moment and write down exactly how you are feeling, then later go back to the list of feelings and work on it from there. Your writing will really benifit if you can relate your feelings to a very abstract object instead of a same old same old every day object. Again, people are used to same old same old every day objects... so you might get a "cool", but never a "whoa..." with same old same old objects. If you think of an object, ask yourself if you would encounter it in a normal day. If the answer is yes, try to think of a different object.

Word choice can have a huge impact on a song. The same old same old every day principle applies here as well. If you say "the glass broke" or "the glass shattered", which is more likely to get the "whoa..."? Definitely "the glass shattered" because broke is such a common, overused word. If you notice an abundance of every day words in your song, head over to www.thesaurus.com and find some new words. I never write anything without my thesaurus at hand, and I use it at least 10 times when writing a song. I guarantee that using abstract words will improve your song quality by at least 100%.

Well thats some things I can think of right now. :cheers:

Non Boxed
02-16-2003, 10:24 AM
You can even combine geneticalerror's tip with mine. You could try to come up with objects that remind of you of death or whatever, and then come up with feelings that the object inflicts upon you.

This would make your work more creative and interesting than same old same old every day songs.

Non Boxed
02-17-2003, 06:46 PM
Yeah, I wansnt really getting at writing about NEW things... its finding a new original style of writng and not same old same old everyday language

Non Boxed
02-18-2003, 06:53 PM
Originally posted by lacklustre
Non boxed, I completely agree with your statements about originality and creativity, because I think anyone with half a brain can write a coherent song about their ex-girlfriend and how it made them sad. My only problem is with what you said about abstract lyrics. When you write using words that only my english prof is going to understand, you lose alot of your audience due to their not attending your concert with a dictionary. When a person writes at such a high level it comes across as rather pretentious and somewhat arrogant. What person thinks to themselves "I'm feeling rather melancholy"? Not too many. I've always thought that music was about establishing a bond between artist and audience. The level of lyricism you use should reflect on your audience.
Blues music is relatively simple but it can really pull at your heart strings, so don't assume that to be a good songwriter you also have to be a human dictionary.

I don't think it sounds like I was really trying to get at... its not using BIG words that counts, just DIFFERENT and NEW and EXCITING and more descriptive words.

Non Boxed
02-20-2003, 08:33 PM
Alright, for those who would want some examples of what I've been talking about in my last few posts, I have some right here from descendent1's song "Gone"

Gone

This was all so unexpected
This was all so unpredicted
Didn?t know that you?d leave so soon
The darkness terrifies me
The darkness helps you to see
The sun comes up but shadows still loom

Sprinting away from eternal sleep
It wants to devour you; it?s longing to eat ▀Chorus
End was in sight but you had to stop
Washed up, absent, dead, and gone

Memories loiter at my door
Memories that are nothing more
You left entangled in depression
You should?ve told me about this
Didn?t think you?d go through with it
There was no source of your rejection

Sprinting away from eternal sleep
It wants to devour you; it?s longing to eat ▀Chorus
End was in sight but you had to stop
Washed up, absent, dead, and gone

You just can?t be gone
You just can?t be gone
Please don?t say you?re gone
Please don?t say you?re gone

I know about you leaving it?s all true
But I just need one more chance to
Get a good look at the things you planned to do
I want to say there?s no one like you
Didn?t have to end it this way
At least you?re going down in flames
There?s a good chance I?ll break down today
There?s no hope that this feelings going away

Sprinting away from eternal sleep
It wants to devour you; it?s longing to eat ▀Chorus
End was in sight but you had to stop
Washed up, absent, dead, and gone

and here is my reply:

Hey dude, *high five* for trying something new. And I must say, this was very good, especially for your first of the style. You had some incredible lines:

The sun comes up but shadows still loom That line wasn't great until the last word. That was a "whoa..." word. I never saw it coming.

Sprinting away from eternal sleep I like that one. "Sprinting" gives it nice action.

But then you also had some lines that just werent up to par with your good ones:

It wants to devour you; it?s longing to eat Now this one started pretty good, but "eat" messses it all up.. How about replacing "eat" with "feed"... eat is such a common word... Would you be more afraid of a monster going "I WANT TO EAT!" or a monster going "I WANT TO FEED UPON YOUR FLESH MWHAHAHHAA".... you get the picture..

Washed up, absent, dead, and gone The commas seem to mess up the flow... That would be really hard to sing.

Didn?t know that you?d leave so soon Thats a line from your other style.. doesnt belong in this one
You should?ve told me about this Same.

Alright, a creativity suggestion. Instead of speaking to "you," I think it would be so much more interesting if you were speaking to an object, a harmful one in this case.

Something like, a razor. But dont use a razor, its lame. It was just the first thing that came to my mind:

Memories loiter at my door
Memories that are nothing more
razor left bleeding of depression
something like that, and continue the whole razor thing throughout the song. But like I said, razor isn't too creative so I'd think of something cooler.



The parts that I really want to highlight are:

The sun comes up but shadows still loom That line wasn't great until the last word. That was a "whoa..." word. I never saw it coming.
That is what I'm talking about the "whoa..." thing for. He could have said "shadows still remain" or soemthing, but remain isnt a "whoa..." word. Its not a horrible word, but definitely doesnt leave you going "DUDE!!"

It wants to devour you; it?s longing to eat Now this one started pretty good, but "eat" messses it all up.. How about replacing "eat" with "feed"... eat is such a common word... Would you be more afraid of a monster going "I WANT TO EAT!" or a monster going "I WANT TO FEED UPON YOUR FLESH MWHAHAHHAA".... you get the picture..

Here is a great example of common words turning a line bad. "Eat" does not belong in that line... It is such a common word... it doesnt suprise even a 4 year old. I'm not trying to bash his song, just trying to make a point :cheers:


Hopefully this makes all of my jargon more clear.

Non Boxed
02-27-2003, 10:30 AM
Revise Before Posting

You wrote what you think is a killer song. Do you rush to your computer to type it up and post it right away??? Noooooooo way.

A few weeks ago I wrote a song... and it was about 1:30 in the morning when I finished, and I thought it was the greatest thing ever. Last night, at around 1:30 in the morning again (lol), I wrote another song, and then I looked over the other song. I started marking up the whole thing with notes such as "find new word", "doesnt flow", "wtf?", "nothing to do with anything", and just plain old "delete."

So maybe sometime today I will go back to those notes, and make all of those changes that need to be made. I'm sure if I hadn't made those notes, and I posted it, I would receive almost no replies because no one could understand my blabbering, or people would bash it because one verse was really random. So I am going to delete that verese, probably save it for another song, and fix some words in places.

The lesson? I don't write a song in 5 minutes and then post it just as fast. If you don't want your song to get bashed here, YOU need to bash it a LOT yourself before you post. It works best if you write it, leave it for a day or 2, then go back to it and tear that sucker apart. Where you make a note of "need new word", grab a thesaurus and find a new word. Read it aloud and see if its a mouthful to read. Keep asking yourself, "Does this go along with the message I want to say?" After you mark it up and edit your song, THEN, you should post it. Don't post it before you revise it, though, unless you want to get bashed.

[edit: :o :o :o :o ]

Non Boxed
02-28-2003, 11:25 PM
I found this interesting site. This section has a great tip on revising.

http://www.poetry.com/techniques/techniques.asp

Non Boxed
03-02-2003, 10:59 AM
Yeah, looking out the window is great. I've done that one more than once.

Another thing I did yesterday is I went outside to run, and after I finished running I was walking around outside to cool off, and its amazing the things you see and think about while you are by yourself and walking around outside. Just be sure you actually remember it all, because when I got back in I found a paper and my mind went blank :o

geneticalerror
02-16-2003, 02:17 AM
Well first of all all these suggestion are good and will work, but there is one problem you can come across sometimes when your writing is that you'll want to say something but u don't know how.

like say you want to write a song about the horrors of war and your happily writting along and then bamm writers block.well i have a trick i like to use.

What i do is that i'll pick my topic and them i'll write down all the little things about war that pop into my head and make a list of them.

and then you should get a list like things

- death
- pain and suffering
- loss of life
- innocence killed
- ect
- ect

and then when you've written down all the things you can think of you start writing and when you can think of a line to put in you can look at your list and see if anything you've written down will fit or give you and idea of something that will fit or work ect ect ect.

anyway thats my little trick and i find it really works and hepls me alot and hopefully it will you too and if i don't well then ****

solutiondevices
03-02-2003, 04:54 PM
listen to a song that u kno is upseting, or gets u thinking, this will give lots of things to write down and make a song out of, it certainly works for me

JoshDaMan
03-05-2003, 11:43 PM
hey, im just a newb i know and im newb at songwriting, i dont like my songs either, i know i need to get better, but i was wondering about some of the ways a few of you critiqued it...well for one thing, my song is over here and i already know it isnt that good http://www.ultimate-guitar.com/forum/showthread.php?s=&threadid=31530
but my questions are these
1. Alot of you talk about, "it has to be different and you have to make them think" i know i like that to...but not all songs do that and they are still good, and here im going to use Staind alot for my examples, Aaron Lewis very emotional songs that are straight forward and say what he feels, which i did in my song, i didnt make you think of the meaning or anything, I told you so you can go "Ya, i can relate to that" and then sing along, alot of the time i see songs as sort of a story with music...by story i mean they either make you think (so its like a crazy story) or just hand it to you and come out and say it (some other stories) and thats what i did and like every staind song does that and they are good songs that are meaningful, deep, and popular. I like em alot. But then there are people like the Beatles who do half and half, and ozzy is half and half, and then there is red hot chili peppers who are mostly not just striaght forward, im just asking why straight forward is bad
I also do something that alot of people probably do but i will use Aaron Lewis as an example, he and I and many others id like to think use the word "you" alot because it can mean more than one person, so a certain lyric doesnt just have to apply to one person, and then the person listening and or reading the song can relate to it if its happen to them (they would know if it does or not cuz it is straight forward, they dont need to think) and the "you" can mean what ever person has done it to them, which allows them to relate even more as if they said it themselves, maybe thats exactly how they feel, well theres my two cents, im not trying to say any of you are wrong so dont get mad at me, just say if you agree or disagree and why, well bye fer now!

JoshDaMan
03-05-2003, 11:56 PM
forgot to say, that yes i know not ALL of aaron's lyrics are straight forward, im just asking why cant some of them be, especially your first songs?