View Full Version : Collaborative Songwriting
06-16-2007, 09:30 PM
Okay, so I and a couple friends have talked about getting a band together this summer and yadda yadda yadda yadda you've heard this a 1000 times before. Here's my question. I know how to write a song (with the whole riff/chords/verse/chorus/bridge/lyrics/ singing thing figured out, done it dozens of times. Supposedly pretty good.) But my real question is, how does one approach writing a song as a band? I mean, obviously a song must have a backbone, but how does a band build off of that backbone? My real problem is that I can’t seem to find any musicians “talented” to invent or add onto a song themselves, leaving me to believe I’ll have to write a bass/guitar piece for them, as all they’ve ever done is memorize tabs. So, basically, I’m just asking, do most bands usually have one main songwriter who invent parts for each of them, or, as I suspect, are they usually 4 or so equally talented individuals who can add their own part of a song as needed?
06-16-2007, 09:51 PM
well first you need to establish what you would like to sing about. Politics (haha), Fun times, etc. You want to get this down to a "T." For example, your topic is the coolest kid in school and how his life is compared to yours. I know, that may be gay, but its an example. Now, this is where is varies. Sometimes music will come first before your lyrics. This is good as songs will tend to write themselves this way.
Here is what usually happens to me. Ill usually have a full song in my head or even just a riff and if I don't forget it, after work ill transpose it to music and write everything down and show my mates after work/school. Now if your lyrics come before your music, this is a little bit tricker to me as your writing music to fit your lyrical parts with can tend to be a bit sketchy.
Now acting as a band to make vocals...this is also tricky. First off your gonna want to have someone that knows English. I know, this sounds stupid, but I hear so many young bands screw up there lyrics. This is not a requirement, but you will please people like me. :D
Now, here is my opinion. Note that there is no correct way to do this. In my band, not everyone is lyrically talented. I for one are the opposite but, you dont want your mediocre lyrical bass player to write a stanza that isn't that great. You have to eliminate all the negatives of this. It also depends on the topic, if your writing a song that isnt your "thing" and your drummer is really into it, let him give you some opinion and you can fit them into the song as a working rhyme and rhythm.
After all is said and done, your going to want to make sure that everyone agrees on the lyrics. If it isn't you opinion...why is it in YOUR song? Lastly, include some musical leads and catchy riffs, which is easier said than done.
Hoped this helped!
06-17-2007, 01:13 AM
Well, the whole lyrics angle is pretty much up to me, but I meant more the whole musical standpoint. How can a bassist and two guitarist write chord progression/riffs when only one of them (me) really knows theory and has ever written a song?
06-17-2007, 03:22 AM
I actually prefer to be in bands when only 1-3 members write the material. This is more of a business decision than a creative one. I used to be part of a band that had 6 members and these guys always wanted to co-write together so "everyone has an input." What it ended up being was if a guitarist played a riff that sounded "okay" (notice I didn't say good) they would just jam on that and make a song. But that ended up being a few members getting fustrated and leaving the room, people just playing anything, the singer just grabbing old lyrics that were written when he was 12 off the shelf, etc.
I prefer to work with 1-2 members on a song and then present it to the full band. Then the other members can put their creative input. If you have a lot of clout and want it to be YOUR band. You can say you just want your ideas and if they don't like it, there's the door. There are more bands than you think where this is the situation. I would be willing to play for someone like this as long as I got my paycheck, but it's harder to do when you are in "Begineer Band" stages. (Notice that I'm more business oriented?)
Back to the creative part, I don't think there is any band where everyone is "equally talented" What defines talented at that point? Someone could be extremely talented at lead guitar, but write terrible lyrics. Or one guy could be great at running sound, but suck at Jazz Flute. Now if all of your other members REALLY can't write original material, I would recommend writing with an outsider.
I have seriously been considering this with my own band. It's a little frowned upon in the rock community, but they need to get over themselves. Why write with band members who suck at songwriting, when you can write with an outsider who is more talented and it will actually be performed? Professional songwriters have one goal in mind, to have their songs performed as best as possible. It came to the point in one band where I actually refused to play originals because I found out the other guys couldn't write and didn't practice the material I gave them because they were stuck in cover syndrome.
Start your songwriting portfolio and keep a lyric book handy at all times.
06-18-2007, 08:07 PM
in my band i am the main songwriter and musical writer, i write the guitar parts, the lyrics, and the drum parts. We are only a three piece band who plays a lot of everything. We like to dabble in instrumental blues. But all of our originals are very alternative. I write everything except for some of the bass parts and it isnt that bad for me because i am the singer and the guitarist. We are doing just fine with one songwriter. The good thing about this is you can get a lot of different thoughts from the same person in the songwriting.
06-19-2007, 06:45 PM
i agree with dutch apple that its got to be lead by just a few...do not have everybody do their own thing it will turn out crap...your bassist will solo the whole song...and your rhythm guy will come up with nothing. i'm not saying be a controlling bastard about it, take their input, then you go write a song, bring it back to them get more input, then go revise it, then bring it back and play it...do not group write no good band in the world completely group writes
06-22-2007, 01:13 PM
Im no pro songwriter...but if all of you get in a room and "write" not only will all of you get distracted really fast, but you wont really come up with anything good, its best to establish who works for songwriting and who doesnt...
06-22-2007, 06:31 PM
The way my band does it, is that I usually show up with lyircs and a general idea for the guitar parts for hem. Then we just start playing untill we get the other parts. It just kinda falls together as we go.
06-28-2007, 06:26 PM
In my band me, my bassist, and other guitarist work on songs seperately... we then give each other copies of our songs at each band practace, we discuss whether we like them, and what should be changed, changed them for next band practace, then play them for our drummer, who makes drum lines for it, then our vocaist makes lyrics on top of that =]
It works pretty well for us.. as long as the whole band learns what thier told to =]
06-28-2007, 07:34 PM
It would be pretty hard to collaborate as a group of four, youll find its easier to find maybe 1 or two people to work with. When you find the right person you will know.
I write songs with our singer and the other guitar player writes songs with the drummer. Then we show each other the songs and if one of us has an idea of something we could add/change we try it out.
06-28-2007, 09:05 PM
pretty much its just me, a drummer and a bassist now since my guitarist friend (who has the slightest bit of songwriting talent) is leaving for turkey for a year. So my plan is to write a part for my bassist, and hope that my drummer (who’s only been playing for a few months) can come up with some at least competent meg white-ish beats. Thanks for the replies.
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