#1
Just looking for some advice or to see how other people do this.

TL;DR: Long-term band looking to start writing as a group through jams as opposed to as individuals, usnure of how to proceed and looking for some pointers.

Here's the situation:

We've been together as a band for probably 6 or 7 years now. We weren't active the whole time because of attending college in different cities and the such. Three of the four of us graduated in '07 and since then we've gotten together (or tried) once every couple weeks to work on material. In general, one of us writes an entire song and presents and teaches to the rest of the band. People add in some parts of thier own here and there and for the most part it works well and we're all very comfortable with each other as far as having a feel for each others style and having no fear of saying we don't like something.

The problem is we all have very distinct styles, which is fine, but it really shows up in the songs and it's usually blatently obvious who wrote what. Having variety is wonderful, but some of these songs are jarringly different and it doesn't even sound like the same band sometimes.

Our solution to this has always been to write more as a group by presenting ideas (as opposed to a nearly complete product) and parts and then jamming on them. Unfortunately, when you only practice once every other week (or less), it's tough to do because we spend the entire time just trying to remember what we did the last session so we've never been able to, until now as we've finally gotten our own dedicated space. We'd like to move into writing as a group and jamming parts out more, but are unsure of how to proceed.

We have a dry-erase board to record ideas and song structure on, but what else should we be doing? How do you judge when to let something keep flowing or when to stop and say "ok, that was good lets focus on getting that part formed?"

Alot of times we jam there will awesome parts and then we keep going until we get bored or it falls apart and then we sit there going "man remember that one part that went like this?" but it seems like we can never quite recapture it, would buying a cheap recorder be a good idea?*

Thanks in advance for any advice, and I'm sure we could figure it out on our own but I figured why not tap UG's knowledge pool and see if I can snag some pointers :>


*On this note, my other guitarist is going on a trip in Sept and when he gets back plans on buying a macbook to use with his recording interface that we'd just set up in the room anyways, so it might be a moot point.
And maybe we can fly away from here, surf on the debris of a broken scene...
#2
recording while you jam is a good idea, my band sometimes forget what we were doing the practice earlier.

when we jam usually is what happens is one of us comes up with a riff or a drum beat or something and the rest just slowly come in when they feel comfortable. its usually an unspoken group thing when we stop, we just know when. then we practice it again and again until we get it so it actually sounds like a song.
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#3
ok first of all it's essential to record the sessions

its also very benificial to write out the format first, and possibly the chord changes or just modulations

but usually it's just someone playing some beat chords or bassline and everyone drops in, so sometimes the beginning is sketchy cus everyone's finding the key but intro can always come later

writing while jamming is great and with 7 years as a group you'll surely be able to communicate properly
#4
If your problem is forgetting what you played, then some kind of recording device would help. Thing is, my band has tried this, and recodring guitar, bass, drums and vocals with a cheap recording device will be an absolute mess. I would recommend what I do, as soon as you get home from a rehearsal, record any good ideas you might have had. That way, at least one of you knows what you did, and you can recap everyone next time.

I also have the same problem with too many styles in the band. It can be very hard to accommodate 4-5 different styles into one song, so just pick 1 or 2 styles and write within those styles. Not everyone will be fully pleased about it, but you'll get a coherent song. For example, if my band tried to accommodate all of our tastes, we would end up with Ethereal Blackened Death Indie Punk, and no-one wants that. Choose the bands style between you and stick with it, little influences of other genres are OK but if you don't focus on one sound, you'll never get any coherent songwriting done.
#5
Define cheap. A good digital recorder runs about $150 and up. We use a Zoom, but there are other brands with similar features. We can download songs as mp3s, and e-mail them to each band member.

The Mac+interface would be fine, if you can keep it simple. We basically touch a button and go. You can also take a portable with you to record gigs.

Recording is the best way we have found to work on things, especially if there are long gaps of time between practices. Plus if someone can't make it, the rest can practice and still keep that person in the loop.
#6
By cheap I mean something like this: http://www.amazon.com/Griffin-Technology-4020-TALK-iTalk-Recorder/dp/B0001WW398

thats not the right one, but I don't have time to really search for it. a friends band uses one and ti record right to the ipod and has something that cuts out the extreme high and low frequencies and if your room is well balanced and you place it properly it produces serviceable demo cuts. I mean, it's nothing you'd want to post online or anything, but more than enough to track ideas and the such.

so just pick 1 or 2 styles and write within those styles. Not everyone will be fully pleased about it, but you'll get a coherent song. For example, if my band tried to accommodate all of our tastes, we would end up with Ethereal Blackened Death Indie Punk, and no-one wants that. Choose the bands style between you and stick with it, little influences of other genres are OK but if you don't focus on one sound, you'll never get any coherent songwriting done.


We actually sat down the other night and started kind of talking about this, trying to pick what we're comfortable with as being our sound. It's tough to balance constricting creativity and variety with chaos. We don't want to choke off what makes us unique, but we need some kind of central focus.

The Mac+interface would be fine, if you can keep it simple.


yeah it wouldn't me anything nuts, just a few room mics to capture ideas.
And maybe we can fly away from here, surf on the debris of a broken scene...
#7
Quote by gald
We actually sat down the other night and started kind of talking about this, trying to pick what we're comfortable with as being our sound. It's tough to balance constricting creativity and variety with chaos. We don't want to choke off what makes us unique, but we need some kind of central focus.


Well, at the moment, you don't even have a style, so I wouldn't worry too much about being unique. Even the most unique bands, like Opeth, start with a core focus of one or two styles, in this case, Death Metal and Prog, and expand on it.
Chances are you will never be totally unique, with every band you can always point out a song/band that the band sounds like. Like in my band now, I can hear bits of Firewind, Axel Rudi Pell and Dokken in our songs, but they are undeniably different to all of those bands, in other words it's OK, and pretty much compulsory, to take influence.
Decide together which bands/styles you all like and stick with them.

Also, something I missed in your original post, about forgetting good ideas, I normally find that the best ideas stick with me, so if you forget about a riff after a while, even if you have it recorded, then it probably wasn't very good anyway.
This can be a good indicator of whether or not an idea is worth using. After a songwriting session/rehearsal, ask the other members which riffs/ideas they can actually remember, those will be the good ones most of the time, for us anyway, some people would probably disagree but it works for me
Last edited by SilentHeaven109 at Sep 4, 2009,
#8
Quote by SilentHeaven109
Also, something I missed in your original post, about forgetting good ideas, I normally find that the best ideas stick with me, so if you forget about a riff after a while, even if you have it recorded, then it probably wasn't very good anyway.
This can be a good indicator of whether or not an idea is worth using. After a songwriting session/rehearsal, ask the other members which riffs/ideas they can actually remember, those will be the good ones most of the time, for us anyway, some people would probably disagree but it works for me


Not really true, just means it wasn't memorable.

The best riffs tend to be memorable, but that doesn't mean other songs, while less memorable, can't be good, even great.

Usually oyu need to repeat something oyu like a lot. Music like Fusion, prog and metal tend to have more then the basic song set up. (intro verse chorus verse chorus solo verse chorus outro, or maybe 3-4 other variations of that)

The basic setup like that is super memorable (especially if they're great licks,) but obviously other styles strive for longer, more stretched out songs, with more then a couple great riffs (There's some DT song with 13 riffs.)

They were all good. But were they memorable? Probably not, because I can't really remember more then two or three of them, and can't even recall the name of the song.
#9
I heard somewhere while I was at UNT that the average person (non-musicians in particular) remembers the last 7 notes they heard when listening to something for the first time. ofcourse, that expands with each additional listen, until you find yourself driving along singing sweet child 'o mine, making guitar noises with your voice during the solo.