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Old 07-13-2006, 02:23 PM   #1
jallas
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Lightbulb The Songwriting and Lyrics Tips Thread (Updated: 24/08/07)

So this is the new lyrics tips thread, here i've organised (not re-written, edited or changed) all of the old articles, or the ones that remain the most help, i've also added some extra ones written recently...

here is the FAQ I suggest you read this before you continue.

If you have any questions about writing lyrics, poetry, your journal entry or your letter to Santa Claus, please ask them HERE!


Also if you wish to submit an article for this, please PM them to either The Hurt Within, Pooch0072 or Mascot then we'll put it up for you.

UPDATES - 24/08/07 - New Article

NEW ARTICLES ADDED - See section: Writing a Chorus


Please thank the following people who deserve all the credit for this.

Benjmc (red posts) - The Original Lyric Tips Master.

and

Non boxed, monkeyguy629, Pyr0, MarkMac, buzzlikeafridge, Drummondo, Grovermans, Something_vague, SilenceEvolves, The Hurt Within, pixiesfanyo, Paraboetheo, skagitup and Jallas.



Click the relevant topic to go to the article

Contents
  1. Why write / Writers block / Copyrights
  2. Inspiration
  3. Syllable Counts / Rhyme
  4. Alternate Rhyme
  5. Meter / Further Variants of Meter
  6. Flow
  7. Shaping the Invisible
  8. Originality
  9. Poetry Techniques / Definitions
  10. Cliches
  11. Melody
  12. Lyrics or Music First
  13. Sonnets / Forms of Verse
  14. Catering For Your Genre/Themed writing (i.e. Horror)
  15. Writing Emo
  16. The Extra Spice
  17. Revise Before Posting?
  18. Writing a Chorus
  19. Advice on Critiques


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.


I'd also like to add something to this part, under the heading of writing for yourself, writing is a way of developing ideas, improving your writing, and expelling onto paper those extravagant ideas you get at the bus stop. They don?t necessarily need to be personal to you, as much as you can write for yourself you can also write for the entertainment of others. Well that?s in a way what professional artists do, its as much about the audience as it is about yourself. Writing something so abstract that only you comprehend it isn?t entertainment for others, you need to find the balance.

Writers block

It's not a nice thing, but everyone has been there, you feel empty it seems you'll never write a good song again, your ideas are insipid and your descriptions are bland, but have no fear, persevere with it, here is the time to just write.....write anything...(no other time do this mind).
You have to continue to write as though you were full of ideas, soon enough you'll hit upon something and you'll be on your way again, blocks can last as long as they have to, but during a block is a time to expand your knowledge.....read, listen to a new band, and soon you'll get inspired. For a few more detailed ideas on how to fix it, check this out: The Cure for Writer's Block



Copyrights

and © Usage.

Basic Copyrights - Step 1 - Place your song in an email and mail it to yourself, and without opening it place it into a folder on your Hard-drive. Because it is unopened it will stand as some way to proof of ownership.

Step 2 - Other than that whenever you save a document in word, it has a created date, a modified date and an accessed date. The created date will never change. So as long as you typed it up before it was posted, you're fine.

Step 3 - Another option is to create your own website and host your work there, this not only provides personal copyrights it also creates a creation date. Again working in the same way as Word. Secondly you could post your pieces on a hosting website, there are a couple of free ones, that really provide little in the way of copyright, but some of the fee-sites will provide you with a decent copyright.

Private companies, this is more for serious writing, these companies deal with issuing copyright certificates, and it is that, for a pricely sum, you are given a certificate for each piece you copyright, that will hold in any court of law, since it is signed by an official that carries authority over copyright infringement.

Finally; using Copyright © 2007 does nothing. This symbol can only be used when it carries a certificate of authenticity. While it may be a deterant to some, to anyone with sense its just crap.
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Last edited by The Hurt Within : 08-25-2007 at 09:28 AM.
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Old 07-13-2006, 02:23 PM   #2
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Inspiration?


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, perceive the beauty of the world, the magnificence of people, the self-absorbed cruelty of people, the fake beauty that you?re likely to see all around you?look at the ?fake plastic trees? and always remember them.
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 then 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. A lot 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.

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.


Your Personal Life

this produces good heartfelt emotive lyrics people can realate to, cos chances are they've been through the same thing.

The Natural World

spend time outside, look at whats around you whether you live in the city/country or the suburbs theres always things going on around you, hidden beauty in nature, or fake beauty, peoples mannerisms etc....


Reading

If you read anything you could be inspired, maybe its a comment from a newspaper or a picture that you find intresting. Poetry is excellent 'Edgar Allen Poe' and 'T S Elliot' are among many.....its a very creative form of writing....and just remenber lyrics are poetry with sound. Novels are always worth the read, and there are plenty of new innovative writers about like 'Alex Garland' who wrote the beach, or more classic novels such as '1984' by 'George Orwell'....ask a lecturer or just ask at the local library and they can reccomend stuff for you.

Listening To New Music

so you like rock do you.....just rock? no you don't you like music....try and broaden your listening....even into different genres you wouldn't normally try....you never know you may find so of it a joy to listen to....maybe not but don't niche yourself into a genre fan....be adventurous.

Bands like: Taking Back Sunday, Dashboard Confessional, Coheed and Cambria, Muse, Mars Volta, Velvet Revolver, Queens of the Stone Age, At the drive-in, Bright Eyes, Blood Brothers, Million Dead and plenty more, mudvayne, AFI, Alkaline trio....etc etc. Also Circle takes the square are a great example of a band pushing the lyrical boundries....you must find them and read some...."crowquill" in particular...

TIP: Dont write a list of emotions as a song.....and try and avoid rhetorical questions unless the song finally resolves them...the reader wants to be told what your feeling not guess what your feeling."


Personal Inspirations

This is a new mini-section where a few writers have written a short paragraph on what inspires them, this may be of use to you or it may not. But its always worth the read.

(The Hurt Within)
I personally find that American T.V. series inspire me the most, I'm one of these sad bastards that gets really into certain series. Most recently was MillenniuM. Where each episode is based on a killer, and a serial profiler. The writers of the series were genius, every story was gripping, and most taught me alot about myths and folklaw, many of which have appeared in my pieces. A decent site is The Millenial Abyss. Lost is the second, I am a losty and I am engrossed in the theories, just by browsing The main lost forum theres hundreds of ideas. Thirdly I would recommend Cold Case, I doubt many watch this, but its based on a team of detectives that reopen old unsolved cases, some semi-recent others delve into the realms of period pieces, this is an amazing way of writing fact based pieces based on certain decades.
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Maybe you've heard what the ladies say: "Once you go 77mm you don't go back"

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Old 07-13-2006, 02:23 PM   #3
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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 3½ hours)

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.
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Old 07-13-2006, 02:24 PM   #4
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Alternate Rhyming

These tips are based around the ideas of rhyming and how to take advantage of them. A problem that I see in a lot of amateur music and poetry is the rhyming. Sometimes people get themselves in a rut and add words that make no sense just so they can rhyme. The reason why rhyming "sounds good" is because it has the same stress sounds as the word it rhymes with. Here is an example:

With a rhyme scheme
They kissed and danced in silent snow
Warmth from his eyes made her heart grow


Without a rhyme scheme
They kissed and danced in silent snow
He had disguised his heart of black


The sn- in snow is the stressed syllable and so is the gr- in grow; this is why it sounds good.
Finding the same balance in a non-rhyming word you have to think of a word whose first syllable is stressed as well such as the bl- in black. You will find it sounds just as good and you have more of a variety of words you can use. Also both of these lines have the same total of syllables, helping with

They-kissed-and-danced-in-si-lent-snow
He-had-dis-guised-his-heart-of-black
Both lines of 8 syllables


Contrary to popular belief, not every rhyme has to be AABB or ABAB. There is no rule that says all songs must have the same number of lines that rhyme. People just assume this. Try making your own scheme up maybe AABAAC, or perhaps even ABBAC. Variations in rhyme scheme will help make your song stick out incomparsion to the typical ABAB songs.

In Jeff Buckley?s Grace we see this used very effectively:

And she weeps on my arm
Walking to the bright lights in sorrow
Oh drink a bit of wine we both might go tomorrow
Oh my love
And the rain is falling and I believe
My time has come
It reminds me of the pain
I might leave
Leave behind


As you can see the rhymes in this song are placed almost randomly when the rhyme scheme really goes ABBCDEFGEE.

You don't have to rhyme at the end of a line either which is also illustrated in Jeff?s song, he rhymes believe in line 5 with leave behind on line 10. It really creates for a very interesting reading and helps make Jeff?s songs stick out more then a standard one.


The last thing I?d like to touch on is experimenting with half rhymes. A half rhyme is a type of rhyme, which shares usually one or two similar sounds in a word. For example:
Bleed/See: These both share the 'ee' sound, but See does not have the 'D' sound at the end.

An example of half rhymes can be found in the Pink Floyd song ?Pigs on the Wing (Part 1) ?

Occasionally glancing up through the rain
Wondering which of the buggars to blame


As you can see, blame and rain are not perfect rhymes but they do share the common link between the ?ame? and ?ain?.

In conclusion, various techniques can be applied to your rhyming style to make the songs much more interesting and I suggest everyone try some of these ideas out. The stereotypical ABAB songs get very annoying in my opinion and tend to turn me off, where as experimenting with rhyme schemes can always create a more original song.
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Old 07-13-2006, 02:24 PM   #5
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Meter

Far be it from me to limit the creative bounds of would-be poets, but I do think one must draw the line somewhere, and accept that a certain set of lyrics may just be prose with too many line-breaks, rather than actual poetry.

In the preface to the 1800 edition of a collection of poetry called Lyrical Ballads, the poet William Wordsworth wrote that the difference between poetry and prose is not the language you use; classed "poetic diction" - a change in tone indicative of modern poetry. Poetry should rather be seen as prose told with a Meter .

Dictionary.com defines the word "meter" as "the measured arrangement of words in poetry, as by accentual rhythm, syllabic quantity, or the number of syllables in a line." Basically, writing in "meter" gives your poetry a rhythm, and if you stick to it throughout, can do wonders for the flow of a piece. There are a number of different ways to write in meter; let us consider the word "meter" as meaning the composition of a poetic line, made up of "feet".

A "foot" is "a unit of poetic meter consisting of stressed and unstressed syllables in any of various set combinations". There are many different types of feet, including iambic, Trocaic, Dactylic, Spondaic and Anapaestic . You can look them up to find out what each is, although I?ll probably focus on them more in the future. They all have a different combination of stressed and unstressed syllables; for example, an iambic foot has an unstressed syllable followed by a stressed syllable.

For this lesson, we're going to look at Iambic Pentameter as a metrical form of poetry (because it's been mentioned quite a lot in the past few days, especially in the competitions forum). It?s one of the most common meters to write in, and is used at one time or another by most poets. First of all, let?s break down the term "Iambic pentameter".

"Iambic" indicates the feet we will be using; one unstressed syllable followed by one stressed syllable. "Pentameter" is formed from the Greek word "penta-", meaning "five", and "meter" which we've already discussed. So "pentameter" indicates that we'll be using 5 metrical feet in each line. Five iambic feet would give us 10 syllables per line, giving the pattern:

U ? S ? U ? S ? U ? S ? U ? S ? U ? S

Where "U" indicates an unstressed syllable, and "S" indicates a stressed syllable.

I hear you thinking "What's all this about stresses." When we talk, we accentuate parts of words naturally, it's just the way people talk. The accentuated parts of words are "stressed" syllables. For example, take the word "together". It is a three syllable word, and follows the pattern ?U-S-U?.

A famous example of a line in Iambic Pentameter is this, taken from Christopher Marlowe's play, Dr Faustus:

Was this the face that launched a thousand ships?

Say it to yourself. Notice how certain syllables are accentuated;

was THIS the FACE that LAUNCHED a THOUSand SHIPS?

This is the rhythm of a line written in iambic pentameter. You?ll find once you?ve made the effort to write in iambic pentameter for a prolonged period of time, everything you write will start to take the same rhythm, almost naturally.

Exercise - Blank Verse

As a simple exercise, try to write short poems in blank verse. William Wordsworth wrote many a poem in Blank Verse (Check out "Lines Composed A Few Miles Above Tintern Abbey"). Basically, every line of Blank Verse is in Iambic Pentameter, but there is no rhyme scheme whatsoever, and your poetry can be as short or as long as you want it to be. It's like prose, but with a meter.

If you are sitting lonely, late at night,
And find yourself in want of things to do,
Then simply find yourself a pen and pad
And write in meter, for this exercise.
Please post your work for others to peruse,
For many are in need of lessons, or
They?ll find their lyrics getting no critique
From me, or any other poet here!
But seriously, take the time to write,
For this is but a simple task, it?s just
A case of writing prose, while in your head
You say each line, and make sure that it fits
Into the pattern of whatever type
Of meter that you chose to write in, and
There are no rhymes to make it difficult,
So place your pen to paper, and unleash
The creativity you hold within.


Further Variants of Meter

While often defined as a meter consisting of five iambs, historically, iambic pentameter was generally lenient in the number of syllables which were presenting, allowing for nine or eleven syllables to occur in a given line, should the poet decide that both the content and meter of her/his line is more important than actual number of syllables. Also, on occasion, the lack or excess was more than just a mark of meter, carrying a representation of the text?s message in its actual constitution.

Dactylic Hexameter

Dactylic hexameter, easily defined in English as a meter featuring six dactyls, long-short-short feet, was greatly employed in Latin and Greek poetry. While the name of the meter would certainly lend a cut-and-dry definition of the meter, in reality, dactylic hexameter was a flexible meter. Generally, any six feet of dactyls or spondees, until the final two feet, was considered an acceptable line. The final two feet, however, generally would end on either with a dactyl-spondee or dactyl-trochee combination. Vergil?s (or Virgil?s, if you prefer) The Aeneid was written dactylic hexameter in which the general pattern was dactyl-spondee for the last two feet. Homer used also used a hexameter that, in practice, was a close ancestor of Vergilian meter, that is, in using dactyls and spondees as the most common form of feet.

Hendecasyllabic

Would you consider hendecasyllables hurled at you a threat? Well, Catullus certainly did in his comic, colloquial, and often irreverent poetry. Another form originating in Classic poetry, hendecasyllables have also become popular in Italian poetry. Denotatively, hendecasyllabic verse consists merely of eleven syllables. However, used by Catullus, hendecasyllabic poems were versatile poems that offered the ancient poet numerous options in beginning each line. Of the eleven syllables, the first two could either be organized into a spondee, a trochee, or an iamb, followed by a trochee, three iambs, and ending in either a long or short syllable, which translates into accentuated verses as stressed or unstressed.

Terza Rima

The terza rima is a meter originating, as its name would have it, in Italy. The form has been imported to England and used by such poets as Milton, Shelley, and Byron, but, undoubtedly, was made most popular, and proposed as being invented, by Dante in The Divine Comedy. There is actually no set accentuation in terza rima, naturally making iambic pentameter the most popular in English verse, as the style is marked by its rhyme scheme. Following an "ABA - BCB - CDC - DED - et cetera" scheme, the terza rima can contain any number of these stanzas, which may or may not be organized into actual separated stanzas, but generally ends on either the middle rhyme of the last stanza, as "E" of "DED", or a couplet of the same middle rhyme. The use of terza rima is, naturally, closely related to the use of any rhyme, as the interconnected rhymes surely present another interesting scheme for any writer to employ. However, there is also a common notion that, used as separate stanzas, the terza rima, as used by Dante, mimics the Holy Trinity in its own three-line stanza.

Alexandrine

Perhaps more directly defined in the English world as iambic hexameter, an Alexandrine, in English-language verse, is a line of twelve syllables with alternating short and long syllables, respectively. While much more common in French poetry, the Alexandrine was used in England by such poets as Alexander Pope. To no surprise, the major use of the Alexandrine meter is to lengthen lines. Often coupled with the more common iambic pentameter, a comparatively longer Alexandrine implies a distinct effect of the verse growing longer with the extra iamb.

Thanks goes to Paraboetheo for submitting this article.
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Last edited by The Hurt Within : 12-19-2006 at 03:05 PM.
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Old 07-13-2006, 02:24 PM   #6
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Flow

Right, I was sent a PM (from luke89) asking how to make lyrics flow without overdoing rhyme. Well I hate to admit it, but it?s a damn good question, which left me stumped for a while. So I asked some people in chat (Ry, Dave).
The first thing you need is good rhythm, because as Dave said, even with rhyme your lyrics won?t be effective without good rhythm. I?m a strong believer that any aspects of flow, which don?t work out on paper, can be easily fixed when put to music; so don?t be deterred if you find your flow has some hitches. Rhythm is helped by the amount of syllables in each line being near enough constant. I?m aware that the ?guidelines? in song writing are more lax than the ones in poetry therefore this doesn?t matter so much when you?re putting it to paper but you should still follow the rule. I already have a post about this entitled ?syllable counts? which explains everything pretty well. Now?the next point?
Everything should flow smoothly, and this is where rhyme can be used. I?ll make up some sort of lines now, erm? ?Seems that after all this time / you still can?t be on your own / I think you should know / nothing?s set in stone? Ah **** it?I?m not inspired so I can?t think of anything (and that?s like pop/punk ****). That stanza type thing I just made up has a loose fitting rhyme scheme of ABBB. Now that?s one way of rhyming without having anything looking superficial (I mean a loose fitting rhyme/not that stanza I made up, ). For example ?constellation/taken? is a pretty good rhyme (I?ve already used it ), or let me think??emancipation/salvation? (I?ve used that one too). See these are complex rhymes that aren?t ?alone/stone? lol. Basically I believe in ?good? rhyming?there?s an informative thread in the main section which asks ?Why Rhyme? and the answers are basically that it helps flow (which is true). I feel the main problem with using rhyme is that if the rhyme are obvious and cheesy then your song will come out sounding like some sort of nursery rhyme (yup Mark, you?ve taught me well ). It?s the same deal with conventional rhyme schemes?things like AABB (otherwise known as rhyming couplets) remind you of a nursery rhyme. Exotic, nicely balanced rhyme schemes are the epitome of cool in song writing . Let?s see, I?ll think of some rhyme scheme? try ABACC (that one is one that I?ve used) or ABBAC or ABCABC or ABCDEC (that one is one that June thought of?pretty genius). You could of course have something really strange like ABCCDEBD but that might just get confusing, lol. Another tip is to alter your rhyme scheme slightly throughout the song because this adds some variety and nearly always keeps some of the cheesiness at bay. Though beware of altering it too much because it may seem like you're wandering...
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Old 07-13-2006, 02:24 PM   #7
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Shaping the Invisible

There are times when you'll be at a total loss for inspiration that seems worthy enough to be used for a song...but nearly all inspiration is worthwhile. If you write about it in a new, different, interesting way then it should work. In fact just write about it in a good way (forget about different) so that no one is able to notice whether it's clichéd or not. Ultimately you should be able to combine the old perspective with the new one in an effective manner.
In order to explain how you can twist words into something I?ll us one of my latest song as an example. So...let's start by saying you have a line...it could be something simple or it could be something quite complex; it really doesn?t matter. The line I had was ?15 serious minutes of my life just flashed by? and I thought about this one line for at least 4 hours. But for some reason I didn?t write down anything at all until the next day. I just let that line simmer in my mind until I felt I was prepared to do something useful with it. And the one meaning I was able to derive from it was that 15 minutes is roughly the same time as an interval in a theatre. So now I had at least one thing to elaborate on during my song. Mind you, I didn?t really elaborate that much, I just explained that 15 minutes passed by and I was feeling empty after them.
The next idea that came into my head for this song was the famous Shakespeare quotation ?All the world is a stage, the men and woman merely players?? There is more to the quotation but that?s the only part I took to have any relevance to my song. I decided that as 15 minutes was roughly the same length as an interval, I could combine both of these ideas so that I had something to write about. I agree however, that deducing that concept simply from a line about 15 minutes flashing by, slightly odd to say the least. That?s why I know that no one will get the chorus of the song (the 15 minutes thing) due to the subtleness of it placement. So what more do I have to say about inspiration? I think I?ve covered it all?you can get a whole idea and make a song which flows perfectly and is written in 5 minutes, and modified in 10. Or you can get a line and then find certain complexities within that line that can?t be easily found. This should give your song a profound value, whilst maintaining the simplicity with which your listener can connect and interact with. Really, song writing is a personal thing, which you then open up so that it has a deep meaning to you but also to your listeners who can easily relate to the lyrics you produce. I was glad that the song I?ve described to you was well; let?s say powerful to some people. I guess now that I?ve gone as far as explaining the whole song to you then I might as well provide the lyrics for the song and then go into detail on a few stanzas.
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Old 07-13-2006, 02:25 PM   #8
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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%.

Although id like to add something here, the truth is by using a word given to you by an electronic device that has the ability to remember every word in existence, you are saying something you don?t fully comprehend, if you do find synonyms then you may not be using the word in the right context, and so detracting from the overall effect of the piece, plus it comes back to the issue at the top ?Write for yourself and the entertainment of others? if they don?t understand the word then perhaps they cannot fully grasp what the writer intended.
This on the other hand is easily avoided, use a synonym by all means, but provide enough detail around these higher uses of diction so that the reader can still follow the storyline.
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Old 07-13-2006, 02:25 PM   #9
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Poetry Techniques/Definitions

Allegory - a work in which characters or things represent moral qualities

Alliteration - the repetition of consonants in words and phrases to give particular emphasis; for example "violated vineyards", "faced by frivolous facades in which the plan is to sulk until the sadness is a stain that fades with the fire and frees and flows and strives further away", Now there was a nice long one that I just made up.

Allusion - A reference to a person, character or event often by way of a parallel, i.e. a similarity could be reinforced by an allusion.

Aphorism - a terse saying embodying a general truth, or astute observation, as “Power tends to corrupt, and absolute power corrupts absolutely.”

Apostrophe - this is when the writer talks to an absent person, inanimate object or idea.

Archetype - An original model or type after which other similar things are patterned; Either in content such as piece revolving around horror could assume this chain through the stanzas; "'Frankenstein' . . . 'Dracula' . . . 'Dr. Jekyll and Mr. Hyde' . . .Or Archetype can refer to structure say S.1 Is a shakespearean sonnet, the following stanzas will each take on one charateristic; S.2 Rhyme, S.3 Meter. Depending on what form varies its specific name; one example being "Dorsimbra."

Asides - when words in parenthesis (brackets) further elaborate on a point, and usually have a very distinct tone (ie a more personal tone, or a sarcastic tone etc)

Assonance - the repetition of vowel sounds to gain special effects; for example "losing your longing", "baiting then waiting" or "bleed and swede".

Bathos - a ludicrous descent from the exalted or lofty to the commonplace; anticlimax. Or a general triteness or triviality in style.

Consonance - It is the repetition of consonant sounds in a short sequence of words, for example, the "t" sound in; "Is it blunt and flat?" Alliteration differs from consonance insofar as alliteration requires the repeated consonant sound to be at the beginning of each word, where in consonance it is anywhere within the word. Dissonance Is the opposite, i.e. avoiding using a vowel sound in succession.

Compound words - double-barrelled words made by combing two existing words. They are sometimes used to pile effects in descriptive poems; for example "wind-wandering, weed-winding bank"

Diction - the poet's language, the words that he chooses. It may be simple, modern, old-fashioned, love-related, metaphoric and doomed (hey Non, ) et cetera.

Enjambment - the use of run-on lines which are not end stopped. e.g. - I am not prone to weeping, as our sex / Commonly are; the want of which vain dew / Perchance shall dry your pities; but I have / That honourable grief lodged here which burns / Worse than tears drown.

Euphemism - The use of roundabout language to replace colloquial terms that are considered too blunt or unpleasant; for example: "God" (when oaths are modified, as when "God damn!" becomes "darn!"); "death" ("passed away" replaces "died"); "sex" (as in the Elizabethan use of "French velvet" for "prostitute"); and "bodily functions" (as in Gulliver's "natural Necessities" in Swift's Gulliver's Travels).

Figures of speech - Similes, Metahpors, Alliteration, Onomatopoeia

Hyperbole - The obvious and intentional exaggeration.
Or an extravagant statement or figure of speech not intended to be taken literally, as “to wait an eternity.”

Images - sense-impressions which poets use to set their readers, or listeners imaginations to work. Images contribute to the mind's eye but can also appeal to the other senses; for example "the golden ray's of soft light, yielded potency to enlighten our visions of the shimmering pain" (clearly image), "her skin so smooth when caressed curved high into the night" (first tactile/touch, then image again), the "crude smoke drifted through our brains and smelt of high voltage fires" (olfactory/smell), "I doubted your quivering voice could contain such firm authority, strike it down with a slam of your fist" (auditory/sound). Much of the impact of descriptive lyrics is made in particular through manipulating the reader?s senses in this manner.

Imply - to hint towards something but not say it directly. The reader or listener is then to make his own inferences (read between the lines) to figure out what the poet/songwriter is insinuating.

Malapropism - The accidental use of a word which resembles the one intended, but has a different, often contradictory meaning. "moral/amoral" "spired/aspired"

Metaphors - used frequently by poets, they make us think of familiar objects in a new way (Non has become a priest on this subject). They suggest similarities by describing one thing in terms usually associated with another and not literally true; for example "the drowning ship of youth collides with time, always". Some metaphors can be sustained over several lines, or even throughout the whole song. This is an analogy because it draws a comparison.

Mood - the overall feeling generated by the lyrics. It may be happy, sad, optimistic, disillusioned, bitter, et cetera. Mood can also be defined as "tone".

Neologism - The creation of a new word or phrase, usually by combining two existing accepted forms. E.g. Autosynapse....Autopsy and Synapse

Onomatopoeia - Is the use of words whose sound echoes the meaning they are conveying; for example "sizzle, crackle, snap, hiccup, slurp" et cetera.

Oxymoron - placing contradictory words together (ie cold warmth)

Paradox - Like the oxymoron, a paradox is a seemingly ridiculous or contradictory statement which is actually meaningful and describes a truth. Paradox is frequently used in literature, and was an especially important element in the metaphysical conceit; it is common in the language of both love and religious poetry.
John Donne combines both in these lines at the end of Holy Sonnet 140 (the work "enthrall" is used here in the sense "surround" or "imprison"):

"Take me to you, imprison me, for I,
Except You enthrall me, never shall be free,
Nor ever chaste, except you ravish me."


Pathos - its meaning is usually narrowed to refer to tragic emotions, describing the language and situations which deeply move the audience or reader by arousing sadness, sympathy, or pity.

Personification - the term used when something which is not human is given human characteristics; for example "the chair stood upright, and talked to the darkness, while waiting for it's master"

Parallelism - two or more lines of poety similar in length, structure and meaning. An example from a poem about an irish airman (an irish airman foresees his death) is "those that i fight i do not hate / those that i guard i do not love"

Pathetic fallacy - this is where nature mirrors the feelings of someone, like if someones crying, its raining outside.

Points of View - DIfferent perspectives that lyrics can be written in. These are 1st person, 2nd person and 3rd person.
First Person - Using "I" Writing, allows your audience to identify with you.
Second Person - Using "You", can be used to disguise the peronal nature of the song.
Third Person - Using "He","She", "They" etc. Can be used to distance oneself from the material. Good for songs with multiple characters.

Refrain - a line or set of lines that is repeated, possibly with slight variations throughout the song (can also be known as the chorus).

Rhyme - the repetition of sounds, usually at the end of lines, though not always. There are also internal rhymes...for example ?relinquished shame, and extinguished flames?. Remember it is the sound, which determines whether words rhyme and not the spelling. In song writing certain syllables can be drawn out, or accented in order to give the effect of a rhyme without actually having a definite rhyme. You can also have rhyme schemes, where there is a definite rhyming pattern like ABBAC.

Satire - this is when the writer uses exaggeration or humor to criticize.

Similes - Are direct comparisons between two things that are alike in one particular way. Similes are used to add an extra dimension to the work of the lyric writer, especially if the simile is an original and unexpected one. Similes differ from metaphors because they use the words "like" or "as". This is an analogy because it draws a comparison.

Symbols - are objects that are chosen to represent ideas of abstractions on a higher level.

Theme - the central idea of a lyrics, the ?message? the poet may be trying to put across.

Verisimilitude - this is the use of realistic details to make the impossible seem possible.
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Old 07-13-2006, 02:25 PM   #10
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Please take note these aren't officially cliches, and you dont have to avoid them, they are mearly examples of overused ideas....

Clichés


What are they?


Clichés are overused phrases or, in this case, metaphors, similes or other uses of techniques of writing. They are often called cliché because they are predictable and have been used so many times that they have lost all their impact.


What are some clichés?


"Diamonds" - Honestly, one of the most cliché words I can think of. It's just been so overused... Diamonds represent beauty and rarity, and it used to be very romantic or good. It used to mean a lot, but now that it has been used so much, it has just lost all its impact. "Eyes like diamonds", "Like diamonds in the sky"... Unless you can think of an original context to use this in, then don't use the word "diamond". Try and think of something else...

[i]A more creative way of saying this would be something like "eyes like opals" or "like candles in the sky". Those definately aren't the most creative ways, but of course, to be creative, you kinda need to write them yourself...



"Broken heart" - Although this is really cliché now, it can be used effectively. As long as it's not used in a really cliché context, it should be fine. Watch out for this one, though, because it can ruin a piece if used improperly. Really, it's just the context.

It's really all in the context... If you use it like "you broke my heart" then chances are, it's cliché. If you use it like I have used it sometimes (not all the time; often when I use it, it IS cliché) it can turn out alright. I don't think it was too cliché when I used it in this stanza that I just wrote yesterday:

"Our broken hearts
They fell apart
They burned to ashes
By my front door
Our heartstrings and minds
Intertwined
So perfectly"

I dunno, correct me if I'm wrong, but I don't think that's too cliché.



"Fallen angel" - It used to represent when all hope is lost. Now it just represents uncreativity.

When I use it, I either say "when angels cry" or "fallen heroes". I used something similar in the same song as the previous example:

"With eyes of red
To represent
The bloodstained wings
Of our fallen heroes
Our pieces they
Fit in place
So perfectly"

Again, correct me if I'm wrong, but I don't believe that is too cliché.



"More than words can say" - What can I say? It's been used so much that it isn't really more than words can say, it's less than a lot of words can say. It means almost nothing...

There are much better ways to say this. Something like "words cannot express" or "if only I could find the words to say".


"Lost without you" - It's been used enough to lose most effect. That's all I have to say. However, this isn't the biggest cliché in the world; you can still use it, just be careful...

There are more creative ways to say this, like "you were my map, my compass, my north star; now that you're gone, I'm lost". And that is probably still cliché because I just made that up this second, but I don't care...


"Cry alone at night" - I write a lot of emo lyrics and stuff, and let me tell you that this is one of the most cliche things you can say in an emo song, next to "broken heart".

There are more, but I'm too lazy to write them up. And no more come off the top of my head. If anyone wants to suggest anymore, then I'll add them.


Why can't I use clichés?


Because it gives the listener/reader the feeling that they have heard all this before, and that they are hearing the same thing all over again. It makes them feel that it is nothing special, therefore, they will not want to read/listen to your piece.


More Clichés from Something (Matt) Vague

Here are some clichés that I find a lot in this forum and in lyrics and poetry in general that I read. We've all succumbed to these and still occasionally do for their metaphorical power, but the fact that they've been used so much, makes it diminish in impact. Here are some:
Daggers, ugh, don't get me started on daggers, I really don't see the big deal here, and it represents betrayal, mainly because of Shakespeare?s Julius Caesar, in which Caesar is stabbed by Brutus (his best bud) with a dagger. Again, usually used in emo poetry representing a hurt loved one, or just straight up, cold-blooded, betrayal. I personally think this is one that should be thrown out for a very long time; it has no redeeming qualities and is very lame and cheesy. Unless you're actually talking about prodding someone with a dagger, then go right ahead.

Drowning, these goes back to the ship thing, if it can be done originally, then do it, adding original spins and old clichés, is a sign of creativity and pure talent. It basically represents what the ship does, except on a smaller scale.

Razorblades, wow, this should be a give, razorblades aren't really cliché, they're just so lame/cheesy/teenage emo-ness that doing it takes guts, ignorant guts. Basically don't ever succumb to writing about razorblade suicide. It's pretty bad in terms of writing.

Demons/Sin/Devil, ugh this one actually pisses me off. I can't stand when people refer to Satan, Lucifer or any of his counterparts in poetry, of any kind, I don't even care if it's a poem about the devil, people who mention those freaking' names, should be banned from writing all together. It's just about the lamest thing someone can do, and it automatically puts their piece in the crapper for me, that is. The only time I can imagine using a word such as: sin, devil, demon, etc. is if you're using an amazing metaphor, which I really doubt if you're writing about that anyway.

Butterflies, uhhh you can thank, "Atreyu - Suicide Notes and Butterfly Kisses" for this one. I suppose if you're writing about a butterfly coming out of its cocoon, then that'd be pretty original, but metaphorical, a butterfly does nothing, except butterfly around and get eaten by funky traps. It's just a lame metaphor for beauty, because I find them hideous.

Burning City, Crashing City, Falling City, Exploding City, and City being sucked into a black hole. Anything with "in flames" is automatically put on my emoxcore list as bad. There are so many songs and bands that use this god awful metaphor, and even I have succumbed to using this, it's almost impossible to not use it, because it's so easy to just stick in there, and Walla, a decent line. Seriously though, stray away from using this because it's loosing its originality fast.

Falling.....need I say more?

Sleep, this one isn't as used as it used to be, because it was quiet easy to make a decent dream/nightmare piece back in the day, nowadays using this a thesis for a piece just means something....mediocre at best, it's hard to pull off because every bit of this subject has been explored so extensively, that trying to trend new ground is almost impossible. I have about 10 sleep/dream pieces in my vault of 70+ poems, so they can be done, but it's tougher now that they've been written about quite a bit.

Political Issues.......... HOT DAMN this is my most hated cliché in all the land, I honestly can't stand people who have super opinionated views on either government or politics. unless you're the freaking' mayor of some city, then go right ahead, but if you're some pre-pubescent boy who connects with "American Idiot" because it talks about "our" generation, then don't freaking' bother. Seriously poems/lyrics about, Iraq, Bush, or anything political gets a 7 seven thumbs down from me. Fast. Be creative, not a douche.

These are just a few, and I'm expanding on the article above me, and here's some advice. If you say to yourself, "this sounds like it's been done before by.... (Name about 12 bands or poets)." Then don't freaking' do it, unless you're being original.
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Old 07-13-2006, 02:25 PM   #11
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Writing a Melody

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.

.
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Old 07-13-2006, 02:26 PM   #12
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Lyrics first, or music first??

Try it both ways, write a few chords down, find a rhythm and then hum along to the tune, and repeat it over and over then just sing whatever comes into your head, it will fit, and will most likely be ****e, but in doing so you have a basis for the number of syllables per line...then you just edit it, change them or write the lyrics to fit the syllable count.

The alternative is writing the lyrics first, and then adapting the tune around them, this takes a little more skill and you must have a gd ear for what works and what doesn't...often though this can make for more alternative sounds...the chords often end up being randomly thrown in and finding a rhythm is hard, so you often dont find one at all, you end up with a juttery rhythm which can sound cool if it works...so just experiment and find what suits YOU best.

You just have to decide if you want to be more musically oriented, or to have really strong lyrics. I think to be recognized as a great lyricist, you have to start with the lyrics. I think to be like a pop-punk band or something else really catchy, music should come first.


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.
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Old 07-13-2006, 02:26 PM   #13
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Sonnets

After last week?s *cough* lesson on Iambic Pentameter, I thought I would use your newfound metrical talents to write in a recognised poetic form; the sonnet.

I?m sure you?ve all heard of sonnets; they?re one of the most recognisable forms of poetry, and have been used for many styles of writing in the past. They are commonly associated with the theme of love; they originated in Italy, and were used in Italian romantic poetry. Shakespeare used sonnets a lot too; I think, in the end, he wrote 153 of them, but if someone would like to correct me on this they can. Poetry from the First World War was often written in sonnet form; at first this was to show love for one?s country, like in Rupert Brooke?s The Soldier. Towards the later stages of the war, however, it was used with a satirical tone to reverse the effect and show contempt for war and unnecessary death.

I?m sure a couple of you are thinking, ?What exactly is a sonnet?? I?ll define the term as well as I know.

A sonnet is a poem consisting of fourteen lines, usually written in Iambic Pentameter, although they can be written in other meters. One of the main defining aspects of a sonnet is that they must contain a ?volta?. This is an Italian word, meaning ?to jump? (As in a pole-vaulter!). This kind of jump, however, is more of a jump in perspective or tone within the poem. They follow a set rhyme scheme, which differs depending on the sonnet form in which you are writing. The most common modern sonnet form is the Shakespearian sonnet, which follows the rhyme scheme ABABCDCDEFEFGG.

*Digression*

It is, at this point, that I realise a fundamental flaw in this lesson; I?m not sure you are all aware of rhyme scheme notation. A quick example;

With these six lines, I hope to demonstrate
A simple rhyme scheme, so that I can show
How I use pairs of letters to notate
Two lines that rhyme. So now, I hope you?ll know
Exactly what I?m saying when you see
This rhyme scheme is ABABCC.


In this small ?free-write?, so to speak, there is an obvious rhyme scheme involved. I notate it with the letters ABABCC. Each letter stands for a line; so line 1 rhymes with line 3, line 2 rhymes with line 4, and line 5 rhymes with line 6, as denoted by the pairs of letters.

*End Digreession*

Sonnets originated in Italy, and the oldest form is the Italian Sonnet, also known as the Petrarchan Sonnet. This form used the rhyme scheme ABBAABBA for the first eight lines, which was difficult for many English writers to follow. The Italian language is naturally easier to rhyme with than the English language, so English poets struggled to use the form effectively. The English, or Shakespearian form gradually evolved, making it much easier to follow the set rhyme scheme using the English language.

Sonnets normally consist of an octet; the first 8 lines, and a sestet; the last 6 lines. It is common for the volta to be found between these two groups of lines, but it can be placed at other points throughout the poem. Shakespeare sometimes withheld his volta until the final line of the sonnet.

I think that?s enough information on sonnets for now; I?ll leave it up to your own creative geniuses to produce some of your own.

Exercise

Write a Shakespearian sonnet. That?s fourteen lines, in Iambic Pentameter with the rhyme scheme ABABCDCDEFEFGG. I don?t think you should be expected to incorporate significant voltas into your pieces, but give it a go if you can. Just try and learn the structure of them, if only so you?ll recognise when someone posts a sonnet here!

A couple of examples of my own; the first was written for a girl, and the second was written shortly after her response. Also notice the extended rhyming in the second; ABABACACADADEE

I
Twelve chimes, one hundred ticks, and twenty more,
And modern time displays your fatal name,
Which stops my breath; an effort to restore
My thoughts leads only to your face, the same
Resplendent beauty keeping me, less bold,
From reaching out at once to hold your hand,
Or offering my arms against the cold,
Upon that night that you and I did stand,
Awaiting signs of romance. Who'd have known
That one such night, alone, could symbolise
An interest more serious than shown?
For even as I looked into your eyes,
And longed to hold you closer, (I still do...)
I couldn't say a simple "I like you..."


II
The blooded curses, worsening the air,
In wooded, green tranquility, rage free,
While branches in the wind sway with despair
Around the figure of the youngest tree.
An elm, to signify an untold pair,
With intertwining roots and banded heart,
And colours that the leaves and insects share
Whilst hiding from the sudden form of art
Of death in nature's grasp, without a care
For peaceful silence, lonely with the birds,
Where thoughts of you dare not covertly flare,
And I can live without your weary words.
"It ends tonight," I scream, and with cold hands,
I fell the helpless elm tree where she stands.


Further Forms of Verse

Acrostic - A poem written in alphabetic script in which the first letter, syllable or word of each verse, paragraph or other recurring feature in the text spells out another message vertically.

Ballad - (Not what you think) A ballad is a narrative, or story within a piece. Ocasionally it is combined with an alternating "four and three" stress lines (and simple repeating rhymes, and often with a refrain/chorus.

Blank Verse - A piece written with a strict meter usually iambic pentameter but without any rhyme scheme whatsoever.

Epigram - Is a short poem with a clever twist at the end or a concise and witty statement to provide insight and wit.

Free Verse A form of poetry that is still recognised as poetry despite its lack of any form of meter or rhyme, but is still regarded so through the virtue of using multiple poetic devices to attain the reader.

Ode Usually a three piece lyrical verse broken into strophe antistrophe and epode

Strophe - In short a chorus of sorts, this stanza usually employs more than one structure and or rhyme scheme.
Antistrophe - A return or retort to the Strophe usually a direct opposite reply, to answer or debauch the original stanza. Again with its own structure and or rhyme scheme.
Epode - The part of the Ode that is written as a resolution, usually employing all forms of the previous two stanzas. And is commonly voiced as though both sides were in unison.

quatrain - Is a poem or a stanza within a poem that consists of four lines.

Tercet - A tercet is three lines of poetry forming a stanza or complete poem. Haiku is an example of an unrhymed tercet poem.

Mirror Loop - (please note this is used courtesy of Paul McCann - The creator of this style) - A poem that can be read from beginning to end, and then back from end to beginning. Paul McCann's first published example

Epistolary - A poem or prose written in the style of a letter, usually directly referencing a certain individual.

Monologue - A piece that combines many ideas through one persons train of thought, often a rambling muse on a characters opinion. Often used to deepen the disposition of a character.
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Old 07-13-2006, 02:26 PM   #14
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Catering for your Genre / Themed Writing

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.

Horror
Um, well. Horror has changed over the years. Originally it was all the monsters like Dracula and Frankenstein, and not it comes more into the thriller genre. Always go for a dark mood and the best bet to do that is set the main parts of the story at night, preferably foggy. A nice big ol' house as well.

Many horror stories I've read have an obscure ending and don't have an introduction of sorts like other stories would. It tends just to miss it out completely, and they don't necessarily need to have a back story to fall back on. Many stories involve shadows or people moving in them also.

Try and write something obscure if you are to have a go at modern horror. I have a collection of horror stories - I'll tell you the name later, the book isn't at hand right now - that has a brilliant story by Neil Gaiman. He is fantastic at modern horror writing and if you can find anything by him, I'd recommend it. I admit I had his story in my head when I wrote my own but it was sufficiently unattached to pass as my own. I suppose I could send you mine, but I doubt you'd really like it all that much, although it may help with ideas.

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Old 07-13-2006, 02:26 PM   #15
jallas
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Writing Emo

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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Old 07-13-2006, 02:27 PM   #16
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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.
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Old 07-13-2006, 02:27 PM   #17
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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 verse, 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.

WHEN TO REVISE YOUR POETRY

Okay, the first thing writers get mixed up in is, practice and revision. Revising your pieces does not mean you're practicing, it means you're taking time out of writing to fix something that you've already lost passion for. It?s not even losing passion, it?s just a lack of caring, you?ve already expressed what you needed to say. I usually never revise my pieces, I?ve started recently, because I?m an established poet on this site, and I?ve been published a few times, but usually revision is rare for me because that means I dwell on an old subject, I fixate my mind on a specific topic for to long and that is all I can write about for a short period of time. I used to revise everything early in my writing career, and when I look back it today, it is still so awful; revision is pointless, redundant and trite.

Practice on the other hand, is where you say: I'll write this down, and I'll see where it goes, fix up some things during the writing process, like grammar mistakes, punctuation and either add or take away some structure for some beauty, and if it doesn't go over well, on to the next piece. If you fixate on one piece for three months, you're not going to change how you write, and I think that is why a lot of regulars here, never change their writing style, or ever improve. I think that if you revise your stuff to much, it halts your writing progression, because you spend less time writing, and more time reading what is wrong with that one piece. What's wrong this piece, may not be wrong with the next piece, and if it is, if you see a constant pattern of wrongs and rights, then you know what you're doing right and what you're doing wrong. I mean, if everything came down to one song, we'd all pick our newest, wouldn't we, not one of us would go back to an older piece other people said was genius, because when you look back at what you've wrote now and 8 months ago, there is such a drastic change between how you write. Except if you've revised every one of your pieces there will be little to no difference. People always give the same advice, because personally that is how they want every song to be. So if you take the same advice from the same damn people, you've have 80 of the same damn poem.

Basically this comes down to, stop wasting time revising, and just write your ass off and get a feel of what you're doing right and wrong.

Of course there is also a certain amount of creativity you have to have to be a decent writer, some people have it, and others don't.
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Old 07-13-2006, 02:48 PM   #18
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Writing a Chorus

The chorus is where the Hook should be, in my opinion. I rarely just write
a chorus, I just wait for a hook. That's how it's normally done, for me.

If you look on my profile, [skagitup's -
http://profile.ultimate-guitar.com/skagitup/], the song "Do You Agree?" is a
strong example of how, in the verses, I've just thrown a talkative type of
storytelling melody with a basic progression, and then on the chorus there
is a definitive melody. Although the chorus in the song is horrifically sung
(mic broke after one [bad] take) you should be able to notice the strong
definite melody. Kind of descends down and around on the "And it started
raining, I saw the street light fading" and then ascends back up. I got that
in my head just while I was messing around on piano, and thought yeah I'll
write a song around that. That's an example of what I think is a hook.

I don't think there's any way that you could possibly TELL someone how to
create the melody for a chorus, that's just something that you do naturally.
If there was a certain method to follow, then a computer could make a
catchy melody, and songwriting would be a lost art. Lets all be grateful
for that. I do believe, however, that there are certain things you can do,
to try to push your mind into finding one, and to try and emphasize it, once
you've found it. That's what i'm going to try to explain.

First of all, to push your mind into finding a melodical (or other) hook, I
think it's essential that you're inspired. Look at some of the greatest
songwriters, people like Bob Dylan, John Lennon, David Bowie (of if you go
into heavier music, Jimmy Page). You'll find that they are all constantly
changing their style, or getting influenced by different types of music. I
know that once I've listened to a certain style of music for a certain time,
and keep writing the same type of songs, I'll become blocked. Uninspired.
Eventually I'll just disappear. That's when I look for a new artist to
inspire me. Luckily, today, we have so many great songwriters that you can
get into, that you can dig, and that will throw inspiration at you. Now is
a time for me to recommend some. First of all, if you're taking musical
songwriting seriously, get into Randy Newman. Go out and buy The Randy
Newman Songbook. That record changed me as a songwriter forever.. Inspired
me so much that I wrote song after song after listening to it. It's because
of all of these weird, but beautiful melodies he uses, they just unlock your
mind. Also, if you're not already into Bob Dylan, certainly get into him,
he's just in another world, but I won't go on about him too much. One of
the reasons Bob's writing is so inspired, I believe, is because of how far
back he dates as a listener. Through his autobiography I learnt that he
listens to folk records dating back to the 30s. I checked this out, and a
couple of my best songs were written whilst listening to some of these
records. If you're interested, go out and get into The Carter Family and
Woody Guthrie, as a start. Listen to those melodies and manipulate them
into your own. Listen to the way the vocal lines flow. I could go on with
artists to inspire you all day, It's a big part of my songwriting, and if
you find it helpful, PM me [skagitup] on the above profile and I'll be more
than happy to recommend you some more records. Just remember that good
songwriting is good songwriting, from the Spice Girls to Metallica, they all
have one thing in common, and that's a good melodical line, whether it be
through guitar or through vocals. I've been listening on the radio to the
Spice Girls before, and heard a melodical line that I thought was beautiful.
I put it on guitar, and now it's part of an intro to what I've been told
is one of my best songs. It's unrecognisable, but equally beautiful.

OK, so that's how I get inspired.

As I said earlier, I normally find my best melodical lines singing, whilst
I'm making something to drink or whatever. That's something that will just
happen, usually if you sing alot and have a decent voice. If you don't,
though, there are other ways that I have come up with great melodical lines,
which I will share with you.

Firstly, something that I'll do if I've got a fantastic verse, and need a
chorus, but haven't found anything that could suit it. This may or may not
work for you, but on the guitar, get on the chord you're playing in (say G
for now), and get ready to play a simple progression, for example G then D
then C. Try and sing a melodical line that stands out deliberately, and try
and hit a weird note. Hit a note that has no purpose being in that melody.
A lost note. Sometimes you'll just come out with allot of rubbish, but I
once did this when I was on Am, and came up with probably my favourite
melody ever. It's sort of like the melodical line in The Terminator theme
music. Just sounds strange, but at the same time so beautiful. Just try
and hit a lost note, and sometimes it will sound great, and there's your
hook.

Actually, that makes me think. I've been talking so far about melodically
catchy choruses, but as you know a large majority of songs (especially in
more rock styled genre's) have hooks from the guitar, bass or even Drums (I
think In The Air Tonight by Phil Collins really shows a drum hook, that bit
at the end where the drums come in blows me away). David Bowie does this
allot as well with Rebel Rebel, Ziggy Stardust, etc. Actually yeah, David
Bowie is a great person to get into if your taking songwriting seriously,
but I think you need to be careful with Bowie, because allot of his work
either works fantastically or just fails totally. He did something
interesting with Starman, taking the melodical lift from "Somewhere over the
rainbow" or whatever that songs called, and stealing that then adapting it.
Great idea, I've done that a few times, but tried to make it less
recognisable, but anyway, back to the instrument hooks. I think the way you
find them is similar to the way u find melodic hooks, your just playing and
stumble across them, but this is when being a good guitar player comes in
handy, because the amount of great riffs I've found where I tried to record
them and they just sounded... thin.. Because I can't kind of play them in
the correct way, just note for note. That annoys the hell out of me. I
normally take them to one of my friends who are a much better player than me
and get them to work on them, and then kind of collaborate with them, but
it's still annoying.

Another way to create choruses, the only way (I think) which doesn't feature
around a melodical hook, is one that I did in one of my songs ("Down, Over,
Out"). Do something really weird or creative. On this one, I came up with
this really weird strumming rhythm, and kind of put a melody over it that
went along with the rhythm, and got the drums doing the same. It made for
this really catchy kind of stick-out point in the song, that I THINK is
probably one of the strangest choruses written in a while, but if it works -
it works. Something Rhythmic.

That's another thing, I've been going along talking about the catchy
choruses, but there are so many artists that don't really rely ATALL on
being catchy, and are still really catchy, if you know what I mean. They
rely more on kind of the soul of the song, and the melodies throughout to
make it catchy, and there's nothing specific punching you in the face and
pulling down your trousers when you first read it. I think one of these
artists is Randy Newman. I Love Randy Newman. And I love recommending him,
but that’s enough about him!

I think a big mistake people make is trying to make both the verse AND the
chorus catchy. I think only one of them should be catchy; otherwise the song
starts to get annoying really quickly. The catchy parts are generally the
parts that become irritating when they are heard too often. If you think
about songs that irritate you, they are usually catchy songs that you've
heard way too much. Heard so much they now live in your head.

That's a way to emphasize your chorus. To make it stand out even more.
Have a boring verse. By boring I don't mean one that will make people turn
the song off. Quite the opposite. Just try one that's not loud, that's
quite predictable. By all means make it sound good, but just don't make it
sound too big. Nirvana mastered that. They mastered the little verses, and
it made their choruses just look so big. Don't be scared that you'll be
thought of as Nirvana wannabee's if you try to have quiet drum and bass
verse's. As long as you make it your own it will sound great. Bring
everything in for the chorus. Bring in the elephants.

Another way to emphasize the chorus, and let me make it clear that I have
little to no musical theory knowledge at this point, but I find personally
that a way to make a chorus more powerful is to go to the note that builds
it up. I'm sure there is a technical term for that note, but I sure don't
know it. But for A, that note is E. For G, that note is D, etc. It's the
note on the same fret, one string lower. If you stay on that note for a
while before going back to your original one, it will build it up. Great to
use before a chorus. Again, I use it on “Do You Agree”, on my profile.
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Last edited by The Hurt Within : 08-25-2007 at 09:24 AM.
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Old 07-13-2006, 11:16 PM   #19
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Advice On Critiquing

Right so this article isn’t designed to lecture you about critiques, it’s a guide, some easy to follow steps to help you help others. Bare in mind this is how I critique, it might not be the best nor the most helpful way, but it should help nonetheless. If anyone wants to add anything feel free to contact me via PM.

Helpful Sites and Books:

Dictionary.com
Rhymezone.com

Also track yourself down a copy of "Eats shoots and leaves" its an invaluable companion.


Saying ”yeah this is rly gd, I <3 it. Now do mine!” isn’t a critique, and quite frankly I’d give you nothing in return. (N.B. If you're caught again after a verbal warning, official warnings will be made) Critique someone else as you would like to be critiqued. If they don’t return it, stick ‘em in a black book.

I’m going to lay this out in a step-by-step basis:

1 –
Read through the piece at least once, preferably two or three, so as to gauge what it’s about, the writer’s intentions and distinguish the type of poetry/prose or lyrics it is. Upon second read try to look for any techniques the writer has used, things you could comment on later.

2 – Break down each stanza one by one focusing on faults. (detailed below)

• Firstly look for overall tense issues, changes from past/present/future tenses, that don’t seem intentional. It is a common error, and is normally down to using the wrong word format.

• Then look over the basic grammar, are full stops and semi colons (misuse is abundant on these forums) are correctly used, etc. I would like to stress here that while in lyrics it’s possible to get away with, poetry usually benefits from using grammar, it can aid flow, emphasise certain words and generally alter the tone of piece, so try to help with this too.

Spelling mistakes are a minor issue, but sometimes the writer makes a typo or more usually they just can’t spell and wouldn’t normally notice. Hurt those people.

• Next look for clichés, now many newer writers conform to their favourite artists, and thus don’t know any different, try and give them hints on Metaphors and Simile, it’s a good basic start for them, Also if they use cliché words; pain/hurt/falling/shatter/heartbroken etc. Then suggest some synonyms for them. Iterate it’s not a problem to use a thesaurus, but do emphasise that using a word they don’t know the meaning to can effect their usage of it. I.E. wrong tense etc.

Rhyme: I have no problem with rhyme but when it’s used poorly it can greatly diminish a pieces quality, using standard rhymes like; eyes/disguise, pain/vain, heart/part etc. Point out overused rhymes and give a few options to them. Also point out the benefits of not rhyming in places. The fact that rhyming constrains the writer into a few words , whereas if they weren’t rhyming they’d have a plethora of words to convey the message, so it’s a trade off.

Flow. This is a major issue with songs, yeah they look good, but does it really flow, you can have a really clever line ruined by the fact it doesn’t flow with the rest. By flow I mean as you read the piece do you find yourself having to cover your tracks, stop and think too much or just find yourself getting tongue tied. Advise them on certain techniques that aid flow, rhyme is one, but more subtle techniques include Alliteration (words beginning with similar sounds ”In the midst of mist”) Assonance (words containing similar vowel sounds "The balloon floated to the moon") or the more subtle internal rhyme.

Structure is important too, any piece can be ruined by poor structure; songs tend to have a set scheme, 4 line stanzas being the most evident. With songs structure usually isn’t as important as it is in poetry, whereby isolating single words can emphasise the meaning and cutting lines in half so as to make the reader ponder further the reasoning behind it. Does the piece seem too cluttered, or would a certain line sound better away from the main stanzas.

Diction is one of the vital aspects of writing, choosing the right word at the right time is a skill, and the larger your vocabulary the easier it is. Sometimes you will come across a word that seems out of place, point it out and offer an example of replacement. Don’t be shy about looking words up either; after all you’re learning something too.

• Its always worth mentioning the content too, sometimes a piece can be spoiled by a certain metaphor that doesn’t fit, or perhaps a line that takes away some of the meaning, other times parts may seem utterly confusing, occasionally you’ll find words or lines that are just there for show and carry little or no meaning whatsoever.

• Finally add any personal preferences, likes/dislikes to content and/or certain metaphors etc. This is important, but generally not why the writer wants you to critique the piece. While it does carry some weight to the ego, the writer should know that one mans mum, is another mans fantasy.

3 – At the end I like to give a summary; an overall impression on the piece as a whole and how it left me feeling. Ratings out of 10 mean nothing; you’re likely to change the system the very next day anyway. Say why you liked it. Perhaps offer them a general hint as to their writing as a whole, maybe you’d like to see them tackle a more rigid structure, or loosen it, perhaps cut the rhyme. Also if you recognise a style it may be worth suggesting some writers/poets or even fellow users who may appreciate their style.


Approach a song with rhythm and flow in mind, remember that parts may not be grammatically correct, nor will it read like a book. Certain filler words may be left out so as to compensate for structure. Whereas with poetry remember to look at it line-by-line, carefully paying attention to personal inflections or neologism (creating a new word, usually through the combination of two existing words) by that I mean the writer may twist the conventional usage of adages, phrases or words. Not to say that a song can’t but it’s usually poetry which allows this freedom.

I’d also like to add here that there is no harm in giving short critiques, if the piece is pretty solid and there’s little fault to be found then say a few words, pick out the pieces weak spots, even if they are still good, but are generally weaker than the rest, its something. As long as you contributed something the writer should have no qualms with you. You need to pick your full-critiques carefully, so as to benefit the right people. A decent critique should take around 10-15mins.

Hopefully that is of some help. Words in red are found explained in the Lyrics Tips thread found HERE

peACE
Steve
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Last edited by The Hurt Within : 03-20-2007 at 04:41 PM.
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