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Old 06-19-2015, 11:26 AM   #1
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How do YOU write songs?

Lately i have been curious about how other people write their songs, so i guess this is the best place to have a discussion about it. Anyway, i found out a few of my friends write songs completely in guitar pro, without actually making up riffs on the guitar first and then tabing them out in gp. I found this rather odd, and im gussing that this is why their songs and riffs always sound so generic. And others only write songs together with their band, never separate. Some start with the lyrics first, but i do them last.

Anyway, the way i write a song is, i think of a cool riff on the guitar, practice it until i like it, and record it. Then i record one that fits next to it, and when i have enough riffs i just arrange them into a song. Once its done, i write drums for it, re-record the rhytm parts and add all the harmonies and other two guitar parts. After thats done, i change some minor details, sometimes figure that i can add different instruments to it and whatnot, like strings and such, and then do that. If i get riffs from other bandmembers, i listen to them and try to incorporate them into the song. SOmetimes its just a single riff, sometimes i get like half a song, and i try to write it into my idea. But usually im on my own, and i guess i write like 85% of all our stuff.

After all the instrumental parts (except bass, i leave that for out basist, because he is way better at making bass lines as i am), i write the vocals, usually melody first and then lyrics. However, when i arrange the instruments, i always think about where the vocals are gonna go and put the instrument parts acordingly, so that it doesnt clash.

The weird thing is, i always finish one song at a time. I never have like 3 songs that i write simultaneously. I do re-use the riffs that i cut out of older songs, and i may figure out a firr that wont fit into the song im working on currently, so i record it in a separate project, but i never actively work on more than one song at a time. Does anyone else do that? I have a feeling if i was working on a bunch of songs, that they would sound more similar, and that i would have a hard time finishing them.

Anyway, im curious, how do you people write?
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Old 06-19-2015, 12:37 PM   #2
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I do the same thing as you.
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Old 06-19-2015, 03:32 PM   #3
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I've only been playing for around a month or so (not in real time but a month in accumulated hours :P) but I do it kind of like you. Or I'd do it excactly like you,except I haven't started to experiement with drums,bass or other instruments/vocals yet.

But what I do is,I fiddle around with some chords I know,and figure out some kind of chord pattern I like. Then I try to add in a couple of variations of said chords to make it more interesting,sus,an added note here or there (ofc. notes that would fit the chord lol,I noticed earlier that a regular C major chord in open position with the added low e string F note makes an Cmaj11th,I didn't know at first but then I looked it up since it sounded so good it had to be some kind of chord and it was). That was a fun discovery

But after the chord progression I add a second guitar in the background,the melody line. I only know the C major scale and some chords from Cmaj,Emaj,Fmaj and Gmaj but nontheless,I've figured out alot of cool progressions. I've only recorded 2 yet though.

But yeah....Progression--->Melody line/solo/intro/outro w/e ----> profit.

Btw,how would you go about putting in virtual bass/drums/synths w/e? I'm at a loss here,I currently only have a cheap android app for recording..."Audioevolution". Got any suggestions?

EDIT: The chord I wrote that was Cmaj7 was wrong,it's actually a Cmajor11th lol...corrected the mistake

Last edited by Oddly_Phrygian : 06-19-2015 at 03:45 PM.
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Old 06-19-2015, 04:29 PM   #4
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For me its always different with what I start. For example, I make up some cool lyrics first. Then I work on them till some random point. Thats when I pick up my guitar. Eventually I have some sort of riff as well but mostly Ill strum some random chords until I get something to stick on. At this point Ill add some lead bits and fancy up the rhythm. Finally I mess around with the drums but this doesnt bring me far since Im not good at creating drum beats.
All this could also start with a riff or a chord progression but I cant tell how I decide that.
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Old 06-21-2015, 09:30 AM   #5
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I get a musical idea first. It can be a riff, a chord progression, a rhythm, a melody, whatever. I usually hear it in my head before playing it. Sometimes I get inspired by something I play on the guitar (or piano or bass or whatever).

I have lots of song ideas, but not that many full songs. I have written most of my full songs with my friend.
Originally Posted by AlanHB
Just remember that there are no boring scales, just boring players.


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Old 06-21-2015, 05:17 PM   #6
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I usually just hit the record button, start with a chord progression or riff that I like, and then just improvise until I've got like 3 or 4 minutes worth. I find it more fun to try to think of it on the spot (coming up with verses/choruses, etc). Then I listen to it, re-record, listen, re-record, etc. Until I can see where the song is going. I do this with either the guitar or drums first. Whichever one I happen to be playing. Once I've got drums, I'll add guitar, or the other way around. Then I'll play it through a few times and just start singing random words until I find something I like. It usually leads to some inspiration for a topic for lyrics. I'll then write as many lyrics as I can think of, then trim them down to fit the song. The lead guitar/harmonies come last for me usually.
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Old 06-21-2015, 07:24 PM   #7
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I do more or less the same thing as you - The extra songs normally being formed of riffs that just didn't fit with the original, and were used as a framework for something that wound up totally different.

I can't imagine writing straight into Guitar Pro! Sometimes I write using Mixcraft if I don't actually have an instrument with me, but that's only to jot ideas down on an emergency basis!

Sometimes I start with lyrics and build all of my instruments around whatever vocal melody I happened to hum whilst writing them, but that's less frequent.

Last edited by -Maridia- : 06-21-2015 at 07:26 PM.
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Old 06-21-2015, 07:32 PM   #8
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I write things down, curse myself for being bad at music and then throw it away.

It's not an efficient method, but it is my method.
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Old 06-21-2015, 07:37 PM   #9
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I write some words down on a piece of paper and think, "yeah, this is a thing" and then go write some music.
I don't know what music theory is.

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Old 06-22-2015, 12:44 AM   #10
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I come up with like a two or three note idea and then develop the hell out of it.
"There are two styles of music. Good music and bad music." -Duke Ellington

"If you really think about it, the guitar is a pointless instrument." - Robert Fripp
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Old 06-22-2015, 05:47 AM   #11
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I usually use Sibelius 7 to write my ideas down.
Originally Posted by AlanHB
Just remember that there are no boring scales, just boring players.


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Old 06-22-2015, 05:50 AM   #12
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I arse about, randomly playing until something happens out of nowhere, at which point i rinse and repeat until I find something that stitches together well, at which point I apply theory and refine.
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Old 06-23-2015, 03:53 PM   #13
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Generally speaking, trying to write one song at a time is not always advisable IMO... Jot down lyrics here and there and then mix and match them... Something you write today might not fit into a song till 5 years from now.... And something you write today might be the missing link to an unfinished piece from 5 years ago.

This is the method artists like Mark Tremonti, one of my favorite songwriters, uses...Once he began working with Myles Kennedy in AB, Kennedy too began writing in this fashion.
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Old 06-26-2015, 01:39 AM   #14
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I generally just play chord progressions, trying to find something that moves me. I find myself wondering what chords can "work" to create tension & release that are different from the "hits" that I've learned. When I get something I like, I'll record it and then either improvise a solo over it or even make up lyrics. If I make up lyrics and sing them over the progression, they'll naturally fall into a "melody." I find the lyrics a bit easier when I have the chord progression to set the mood, I get a feeling for what the song is about just from that, and then the lyrics take shape.

The progression also has a cadence -- the strum pattern -- that guides me in creating a drum pattern.

I have got myself in some dilemmas like where I had a little progression I liked, and I made up some lyrics to go over it and had that melody which I liked, was kind of peppy, upbeat. But then I recorded just the progression and was improvising a solo over it, and I got something I liked, but it was kind of melancholy, and the lyrical melody and the solo melodic line do not go together at all. I've been conflicted how to proceed, so I've set that project aside. As I write this, it occurs to me to perhaps try to make one melodic line a chorus or even an interlude sort of thing, and the other the verse melody....

My way sort of avoids the problem of writing songs that use the over-used / cliche chord progressions, since I start out picking a chord progression that is new (well, new to me).

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Old 06-26-2015, 04:11 AM   #15
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I right songs when I have inspirations. Since inspirations can occur every time, so I bring a pen and notebook nearly everywhere I go. I even write songs when I'm in the bathroom. Ha-ha.
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Old 07-02-2015, 10:19 PM   #16
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Hi, just like everyone here, I'm also interested to try and write a song. I heard from a friend that lyrics must be meaningful because it makes the whole song beautiful. I have read too that you have to start with a subject and everything follows especially when you are inspired. Begin with lyrics preferably for the chorus and find an instrumental that could match it later
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Old 07-02-2015, 11:22 PM   #17
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Old 07-03-2015, 12:14 AM   #18
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I pretty much use the Michael Ackerfeldt method: dick around until I find something I like, and eventually, after enough of doing that and finding different parts, I segue them together to create a song. Sometimes I do write more linearly, such as the one I'm working on now, where I stick within the parameters of what I want that specific song to sound like, instead of messing around and going "Hey! This would go great with that!" and putting them together. Lyrics come last.
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Old 07-04-2015, 11:35 PM   #19
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depends on the style, and I've written in a number of different ways, even for writing only on a guitar.

But usually, it is very linear, either the guitar or mouse in my hands, though I may start with chorus. I will also often enough go back and modify something to make it so I prefer it.

If it is on guitar, I record on my phone every time I complete a section I like.

There is no way I could ever write on some guitar pro thing, personally, because I don't have enough control on the rhythm. I find the rhythm is a vital part of the magic.

But it's always in control of a music maker. Either a guitar, or piano or DAW. I play as I create, from thought to sound as quickly as possible. Sometimes it is instantaneous, and I think easily into sound like reading out loud words off a page, and sometimes I stumble and hunt for the thought, as though I read at a grade 1 level. But I won't ever think of something first and then go try and make it. Or very rarely, on the odd occasion I need to record it fdrom voice if I do, because what I hear easily establishes what key I'm in in my mind. If I was thinking of something, I couldn't know what key it is in. I would go and play it, hit some other note, the sound of it would throw me off, and the idea is lost.

If I play directly, my mind thinks in the key my guitar is playing in, so everything is good.

For arrangements, if I wrote on an instrument, I record the chorus, build drums from that, and record all of the instrument, using the beat I made as my metronome. Then rough vocals, and then arrange the rest however I feel like at the time, then at the end, re-record the vocals, having done the background vocals before last.

If it is straight in a DAW, I start by programming the beat, usually, and then whatever listening to the beat makes me feel like doing, sometimes straight programming, and sometimes noodling on the keyboard, and sometimes some of both.
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Last edited by fingrpikingood : 07-04-2015 at 11:40 PM.
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Old Yesterday, 05:01 AM   #20
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After resigning to myself that there is ultimately no meaning in life. I sigh, then keep sighing. My hand then moves by itself on staff paper and I get an abstraction a couple of hours later.
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