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Old 04-04-2013, 05:26 PM   #1
artfulmusic
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Join Date: Apr 2013
Exclamation Singing vs. Songwriting- Help?

Hi guys,
I have some questions about songwriting. Its always been difficult for me.
You see, I can sing, play piano and guitar well. I do lots of covers and can pick up music really easily.
The thing is, I have problems trying to write music independently or try to figure out new melodies. I have never written a song before, and have tried really hard. It usually ends up as a really cheap version of one of my favorite songs.
I listen to lots and lots of music, I especially love indie, folk, and some rock.
Tips and ideas would be really appreciated; I will answer any questions you might need about my musical background. I really need help with this...
Thank you so much!!
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Old 04-04-2013, 05:47 PM   #2
pushkar000
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you might want to try broaden your genres?
i dont sing, i dont play piano, i dont do covers.
all i do is play guitar and write music and steal lyrics and mash them together.
[disclaimer : what follows is only related to the music. there isnt a hint of lyric writing in this. i consider the lyrics and music both to be a part of what we call songwriting]
for me, how it works is cause i feel like i sound original, and how that works is cause i listen to metal, prog rock, dubstep, psytrance, jazz, rock, punk, classical, blues...anything. different eras of music, different traditions of music(im half japanese half indian and i live in israel, thats 3 different stylistic aproaches there)
dont listen to things just for the sake of listening to them.
but always keep an open mind, and be quick to pick up and explore any new genre/style in music that interests you.

i ingest each genre, learn to copy them and my brain mixes and mashes them in whatever way it sees fit, and it all comes out in a messed up jumble that leaves me feeling proud...sort of like when a baby is really proud he puked all over his moms shoes.

but IDGAF this is who i am, the puke represents me.
part of it is the attitude too, i think.
some of it is what directly inspires you to write/the conditions that you write in.

for me great songs come in two ways.
one is when conditions are placed on me : deadlines, specific scales/chords. you could just seem totally lost with 234(54)*sin90 chords available to you, but as soon as your band tells you to write a song TODAY, suddenly the first chord you play just becomes the entire basis of a great song.

the second is when you stumble upon something - anything - that just hits you with an image so profound and you're just unable to do anything else but make a song. you might just be randomly riffing and you discover this cool new chord or riff and you're like fk it, this is my chart topper.

another thing to do is to sit down and analyse your favrourite songs/albums/artists. really sit down and listen to every single beat of every single bar, write it all out. from basic things like song structure to more involved things like is the bassist playing that note on the 3rd string or 4th string?
try to ask yourself : when is the percussion coming? when he/she starts hitting the snare, how do you feel?when did the strings come in? how did that change the song?

in this exercise, you cant exactly answer the question "why?" because theres no reason to music. there is no "why does that sound good?" so just try to be aware of the fundamental structure of the songs you analyze, and once you have them in your head somewhere, you'll have an understanding of how to use it to your advantage.
just roughly know that, for example, the drums come in at the second verse on ballads for no particular reason but that they sound good, and then in the future, you can do the same for no particular reason but that they sound good. in that specific example, the entry of percussion is of course, used to control the energy level of the song in a particular way...but the main point for that too is that it sounds good.
that was a rather broad example. an example of a more detailed/minute/small effect that you can pick up and use later(again using the drums, sorry cant think of anything else lol) could be how the snare drum is played in more than one way. sometimes people do that weird tapping thing on the rim of the drum during other parts, and hit the full snare in the chorus

learn new songs all the time. listening is only half the job. and whenever you learn a song, learn the song COMPLETELY. learn the harmonies. learn the bass part. learn the strings part. learn the name of the studio it was recorded in.

whenever you're stuck, you feel like "ah this line sucks, this'll never be a good song" or "ah these chords are too overused, F and C? how bland", just shut up and stick to something. often some great stuff can come from something not so great - an average riff can develop into a massive chorus that you can keep aside.
I once wrote an entire song with two chords(the above mentioned F and C). its a memorable song for me because it really tested my understanding and control of a songs energy flow. since i couldnt change the notes, i had to change the sounds, add/remove instruments/effects, use the drums wisely, think of very different melodies in the same scale for each part etc. etc.

the most important thing about writing music is that you have to keep doing it. every day you have to come up with something or the other. keep pushing yourself in new ways every day. pick a random scale and a random topic and just get going. force yourself to get creative. lock yourself inside a cage and find the key, and if you cant find it today, wake up early tomorrow to find it. challenge yourself or you'll never improve.

most of what i said is a mix of my opinion and the advice that others have given, and much of it is about the music, because in my songs i focus on the music and write every part of every instrument and then just rip off some other persons lyrics.
so having said everything, i hope it helps.

Heres a free online course that introduces songwriting and its basics:
https://www.coursera.org/course/songwriting
the course is almost over now, but you can still sign up, download the videos and keep them for yourself.

look up songwriting lectures on youtube

heres one by a very nice man called larry dvoskin.

To summarise : analyse, listen, study, practice!

good luck!

Last edited by pushkar000 : 04-04-2013 at 06:56 PM.
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Old 04-26-2013, 04:31 AM   #3
lukepcheel
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Most singers don't really write their own music. Don't be too harsh on yourself and force yourself to write your own songs.
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Old 05-02-2013, 10:50 AM   #4
HarryDwyerTabs
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When I first started trying to write songs I found that I kept making crappy versions of songs I liked, but I kept at it, and then after 6 months it started clicking and 2 decent original songs after that I could write songs that I actually liked the sound of. It takes time and commitment, but you'll know when you get it!
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Old 05-04-2013, 09:53 PM   #5
Emperor's Child
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Quote:
Originally Posted by lukepcheel
Most singers don't really write their own music. Don't be too harsh on yourself and force yourself to write your own songs.
Yeah, maybe if you're Beyonce or Robie Williams... Writing new music is the most artistic/important part of music.

I found that a good way to get used to composing is to tab out another artist's work by ear. It's an important skill to develop when you're trying to visualise chords and will help you grasp song structures better. Diversifying your musical taste might help as well. You normally listen to folk, indie and rock? Maybe you should have a listen to some jazz fusion or some world music? This will help you write music that sounds less generic, as your ear will be opened to different styles of composition.

EDIT: This may sound obvious, but learning the basics of music theory will help you out as well. You only have to learn what you feel is relevant. Start with chord progressions perhaps?
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Last edited by Emperor's Child : 05-04-2013 at 09:56 PM.
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