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Old 12-17-2012, 07:30 AM   #1
zack7521
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How do I get started at writing songs?

After picking a scale and getting guitar riffs, how do you think of chords and the melody? What about drum parts? I want start writing music but don't really know how.
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Old 12-17-2012, 07:42 AM   #2
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your first start is to scratch the "scale" and think of music outside of the scope of only your instrument. just because you play guitar doesn't mean you shouldn't be able to feel out a natural drum or vocal line when you're going into writing a cohesive piece.
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Old 12-17-2012, 07:42 AM   #3
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Old 12-17-2012, 08:15 AM   #4
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You can get deep into theory and stuff, but my advise would be:

Just play on your guitar/bass/piano/drums and doodle around. The first things will be or:
Superunoriginal
Just awful

As with a lot of things it takes practice. Analyzing your favorite songs can help you a lot though.
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Old 12-17-2012, 08:51 AM   #5
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Best thing to do is to just write down/play how you feel, If you're writing lyrics then the best thing to do is to literally pour your heart out on to paper, the piece I am most proud of that I have wrote is about my ex-girlfriend cheating on me with my best friend and how I can no longer trust people, another one I wrote not long after was about how they kept following me from circles of friends to other circles of friends as I tried to avoid them, this song consisted of the lead lyric "I've been in too many Circles to call anyone a true friend" Once you've got your lyrics, and even when writing them just jam about on your guitar, if your in a sad & down mood you'll naturally play minor notes, If your angry at something you'll naturally play agressively, just make sure your guitar can take the strain.

Just remember to have a recorder recording you and to write absolutely everything down, I recorded myself doing this once and there is a riff in the middle I really want to use but I can't figure out what the hell it is.

Songwriting can be a method of Self Therapy and it is for a lot of people, this is the easiest way to write a song, to use your own experiences and emotions and let it all flow out. If you want a really good example of this listen to Animal I Have Become by Three Days Grace it's written solely by the singer and its about how much he hated himself and how he thinks he must've been when he was deep in taking drugs and abusing alcohol, its really personal
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Old 12-17-2012, 10:58 AM   #6
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Dude. Screw the theory. Just let Music take you. If you focus on the notes and not on the Music you will get a whole mess of scales and uninteresting bullshit. I recommend you read a book by arguably one of the best bass players of all time Victor Wooten called The Music Lesson. It changed the way i play and write forever. It taught me to forget the theory and just play because most of the time it sounds better. If you focus that much on keys and scales and everything you lose the art of it. Any computer can write Music if you feed it scales and keys. The human element is what makes Music live.
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Old 12-17-2012, 11:35 AM   #7
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First hear something in your head, then figure it out on your instrument. If you're in a band, it takes a lot of pressure off because you can just focus on your instrument and let the others take care of the rest and also help write more parts. If you're not, you have to also keep in mind what you want the other instruments to do.

I used to write stuff by playing a scale and making a riff off that, but it became boring, unoriginal and stale after like the first 2 times. It's better and less restrictive if you hear it in your head and figure out how to play it and if it sounds good you can break it down theory-wise to figure out why, or even to think of the many many ways to go from there if you get stuck.

Also, listen to a lot of music. The more varied it is, the more you'll learn about how to generally develop ideas into full songs, because different genres do it differently (and if it's metal or rock you're interested in, since they generally have few limitations in terms of song structure, you can always get ideas from other genres in that aspect).
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Old 12-17-2012, 11:54 AM   #8
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When I write a song I usually start with a chord progression that is also a riff. Like my latest song I came up with a progression that is (not sure on proper names): C#m7, B4maj7, Emaj7 and play it in a swung feel.

After the basic chords are down the rest will come with a bit of playing around.

As far as vocal melody goes, just play around. Improvise and when you've got your melody, you'll know it.

I partially agree when people say don't pay attention to theory for songwriting. After the song is "finished" I like to go back with theory and think up some interesting rhythms for one bar in the song or adding in diminished notes underneath as well as intricate harmonies. Love doing vocal harmonies with fourths and ninths just because it sounds unusual.

My two cents
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Old 12-17-2012, 12:46 PM   #9
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I start with the inspiration. A lot of the time i see a beautiful thing, whether it be the crystal clear mountains of the catskills, or the turquoise water of the carribean on my vacation, or a beautiful sunset over my city of new york, or the face of a beautiful girl. These thread themselves into idea's and i try to write them down. I hardly ever write with my guitar in hand (or any other instrument) and i find when i do, they aren't as good as my other works.
Not that my other works are good! I'm just a terrible writer
(I have given this advice before and just copied and pasted it).
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Old 12-17-2012, 02:30 PM   #10
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Quote:
Originally Posted by festivalinhell
Dude. Screw the theory. Just let Music take you. If you focus on the notes and not on the Music you will get a whole mess of scales and uninteresting bullshit.




oh, man, you're funny. yes, theory exists solely because there are people who want music that sounds like scales and uninteresting bullshit.

you can always tell when someone doesn't know theory when they badmouth it.
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Old 12-17-2012, 02:31 PM   #11
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Originally Posted by 20Tigers
The most important thing is to follow the nike rule. Just do it.


Writing songs just because you want to never works.

You have to have something to say. Or at least have a feeling you need to get out.

Then you just go from there.
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Old 12-17-2012, 02:57 PM   #12
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Originally Posted by ouchies
Writing songs just because you want to never works.

You have to have something to say. Or at least have a feeling you need to get out.

Then you just go from there.
True, but it's really difficult to say what you want to say if you have no composition experience.

Sure, writing songs just because you want to won't produce the greatest, most inspired music, but is sure as hell is great practice.
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Old 12-17-2012, 03:48 PM   #13
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Quote:
Originally Posted by ouchies
Writing songs just because you want to never works.

You have to have something to say. Or at least have a feeling you need to get out.

Then you just go from there.

I disagree with this.
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Old 12-17-2012, 08:52 PM   #14
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Old 12-17-2012, 08:56 PM   #15
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Quote:
Originally Posted by zack7521
After picking a scale and getting guitar riffs, how do you think of chords and the melody?


You asked a better question than you know.

You asked how you THINK of chords and melody. And that's the most important part.

You have to be able to listen to the sounds in your brain and figure out what you want to hear next.

To do this well, however you, have to train your brain. You need to develop your ear so you can think in pitch accuracy and with complex harmonies.

You then need to expose yourself to a lot of music in the styles you want to write in. Don't just listen to them, figure out how to play them, by ear. (This will be hard at first. That's okay - you have to train your brain).

And if you do those two things, you'll probably start coming up with musical ideas, which you can start to polish into songs.
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Old 12-17-2012, 10:24 PM   #16
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Quote:
Originally Posted by festivalinhell
Dude. Screw the theory. Just let Music take you. If you focus on the notes and not on the Music you will get a whole mess of scales and uninteresting bullshit.




So Bach wrote "uninteresting bullshit," did he?

Theory exists for a reason.

Quote:
Originally Posted by ouchies
Writing songs just because you want to never works.

You have to have something to say. Or at least have a feeling you need to get out.

Then you just go from there.


I disagree. Again, look at Bach.
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Old 12-17-2012, 11:50 PM   #17
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Originally Posted by HotspurJr
You asked a better question than you know.

You asked how you THINK of chords and melody. And that's the most important part.

You have to be able to listen to the sounds in your brain and figure out what you want to hear next.

To do this well, however you, have to train your brain. You need to develop your ear so you can think in pitch accuracy and with complex harmonies.

You then need to expose yourself to a lot of music in the styles you want to write in. Don't just listen to them, figure out how to play them, by ear. (This will be hard at first. That's okay - you have to train your brain).

And if you do those two things, you'll probably start coming up with musical ideas, which you can start to polish into songs.


+100 great advice.
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Old 12-18-2012, 01:00 AM   #18
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Originally Posted by fearofthemark


So Bach wrote "uninteresting bullshit," did he?

Theory exists for a reason.



I disagree. Again, look at Bach.


i didn't realize the dude from skid row knew theory. learn something new every day!

Last edited by Hail : 12-18-2012 at 01:31 AM.
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Old 12-18-2012, 01:21 AM   #19
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Originally Posted by Hail
i didn't realize the dude from skid row knew theory. learn something knew every day!


Oh, sure. His compositions were ingenious. "Bring 'Em Bach Alive!" was an undisputed masterpiece!


Yes, I did look that up.
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Old 12-18-2012, 01:32 AM   #20
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