In my band, we have a member that writes lyrics. But only one of us is taking a music course. They know how to write music but can't seem to get a song started. We have a key all planned out but have hit a brick wall. Can anyone give us tips?

And in case it helps, we are a band consisting of, a drummer, a bassist, a guitarist and a keyboard player. None of us have too much experience and haven't been playing long.

Please help!
If youve already got the lyrics, i would assume you had a melody for them to follow.
Listen to the melody, play around with the scale of the key your in until you find a good starting note for the guitar and work around that.

I know it seems rediculous to start on one single note, but it helps me.
if that makes sense?
Come up with a riff. Or a chord sequence and work your way round that.
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and if you don't have a melody, get one...it will be hard but try.
otherwise it's easier (at least for me) to write guitar part first.
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Also think of how you want the song to sound, Happy, sad etc. and fit it into that, but yeah making a riff is the best way to start.
The voice is a more natural instrument to most of us, simply because we've been using it longer. Hum or sing the melodies until you've found the one you want, then use your guitar or a guitar tuner to find the notes, figure which scales all the notes are in, and find where your melody resolves and tada, you've got your scale.

Write a chord progression in this scale and resolve it to the same note, then work from there.
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Theory is descriptive, not prescriptive.

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theory states 1+1=2 sometimes in music 1+1=3.
^That's a generalisation.

Sing the melody and match the pitches one by one if necessary. This is my favourite part.

Then play the melody once you have found it. Note it down so you don't lose it.

Then look at your melody and see if it spells out a key - just for a rough guide.

Think about the lyrics and what they say. What kind of mood they are creating. Then find chords that fit that mood. Usually it's a matter of playing around and finding the right chord.

You can use theory to harmonize the melody but sometimes your melody might be non diatonic or include a "colour" tone that is outside the normal triad or even outside the key.

The main thing is to think about what you're saying and find chords that fit the context and create the right mood. It takes practice but just keep at it.

Good Luck
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Q: How do you write music for lyrics?

A: You don't. You write lyrics around music.

that why led zeppelin had a book full of lyrics that they had first and then wrote songs for right....?

the guy before me said exactly what I do, I always right lyrics first. It gets me focused into what mood I wanna right my guitar and bass **** in.
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Write a chord progression, and fiddle around on top of that.

Write a riff that goes with the lyrics, and write a vocal melody above it.

Write a bass line, then write a vocal melody above it.

Sing the lyrics randomly, and see what you come up with.

Rap the lyrics (no, really) and improvise a riff to go under it. Then write the vocal melody on top of the riff.

Get a good drum beat going, and write melodies on top of it. I find it the easiest to write musical lines if there's a drum beat already in my head.
Analyse the lyrics and seperate each syllable of each word

Label each word as stressed or unstressed. Stressed words are nouns, verbs, adverbs, adjectives and negative auxillaries (DONT, CAN'T, SHAN'T, WON'T). For simplicity, every other word and it's syllables will be considered as unstressed.

De - mon of the night real - ly is a cool guy
Note: I might also stress 'is', as there's a vague pattern which suggests it. I might also stess the first syllable of really, as although it's an unstressed word, that syllable is more stressed than the other syllable in that word.

Label each syllable of these stressed words as stressed or unstressed. You should be able to hear whether a syllable is stressed or not, it's louder, longer and will never be left out when in those bad english accents.

Ex - am - ples with long - er words are hard be -cause my vo - cab - u - lar - y sucks
Note: I stressed the last syllable of because for the same reasons I contemplated stressing the 'is' syllable and the 'real' syllable in the first example. A pattern suggests it and cause is more stressed than be.

As a rule to help you out, the first and last (if the word is 3 syllables long) syllable of nouns, adverbs and adjectives will usually (90% of the time) be stressed. The first syllable of verbs will usually be unstressed, unless it's a single syllable word.

Now the musical part. Assign each syllable to a melody (melody writing is a subject itself which requires an EPIC post to fully explain, I'm currently halfway through such an epic post and will post it in a month or 2).

Stressed syllables must go on stressed beats. 1st beat (in 4/4, 6/8 and 3/4) of the bar for the most important syllables of the most important words, 3rd beat (in 4/4) or 4th beat (in 6/8) for the not so important syllables. This is a must for music flow. This will require some logic and problem solving.

If you end your melody on an unstressed beat (any beat but the first beat), you must finish on an unstressed syllable.

Don't use high notes on dark words and don't use low notes on bright words. Bright words are things like, sun, angel, flower. Dark words are things like moon, night, demon. The melody should have some relevance to the lyrics, unless you're Amanda Palmer.

Don't climax (this is where your melody hits a peak and starts coming down) on unimportant words.

Okay, I've missed a couple of important guidelines and didn't explain the ones I did list, but that's only because you should learn that^ after you learn how to write single line melodies. BTW, these aren't my ideas, these are the most common melody writing ideas I've found from a couple of books.

Sorry if I've confused anyone, I just got annoyed at some of the obvious suggestions. Like telling T/S to write a melody, no ****.
Last edited by demonofthenight at Nov 28, 2008,

EX amp LES??????????????????????
It's obviously ex AM ples.

Good advice, except stressing unstressed syllables might be an effect worth noting. Lacuna Coil does it in at least one song, though my drunk brain can't think of it right now. Also, I'm seeing them at Soundwave!!!
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EX amp LES??????????????????????
It's obviously ex AM ples.

Good advice, except stressing unstressed syllables might be an effect worth noting. Lacuna Coil does it in at least one song, though my drunk brain can't think of it right now. Also, I'm seeing them at Soundwave!!!
Take another look.

Also, I suggested stressing unstressed syllables when you need to follow a pattern

Like if you see a pattern of S,u,u,S,u,u,S,u,u and the next syllable is unstressed, it might be a good idea to use it as if it's stressed just because.

Also keep in mind you can extend and contract words. Lovely can become love-e-lee or just lovl. Or you could try a gregorian chant sort of thing and keep singing the same syllable, like how Rob Halford sings some stuff (AHHHHH-AAAAA-aAAAAA-AAAAAA-AAAAA *resolves*). Fairly common in classical music and metal. Using these ideas you can force more stressed syllables on stressed beats.

though my drunk brain can't think of it right now.
At least I'm sober more times than not when on MT. Right now, I don't think I've ever been more sober. Time for a drink me thinks, I hate being this sober.