#1
Okay, so I am the lead singer and guitar player in an indie rock band. I've been writing music for about 4 years and I've always had trouble writing for a band. If I write a song it usually starts out on an acoustic and later on I'll bring it to the band. I write good songs according to what people have told me and what I think.. But the other members of the band (bass, guitar, drums) have never written music before. So here I am with a room full of unsure eyes looking at me with no idea what to play to my songs. I want the band to be a collaboration of more than one mind but it seems like I'm the only one that knows what I'm doing. I've tried writing parts for everyone but I find it a very overwhelming and stressfull thing to have to do on top of teaching the other members their parts. I don't know what to do right now, if anyone had some advice that would be great.
#2
Well you're really talking about two different things here;

1. Collaborative Songwriting

Involves more than one member getting together and writing the song. This would be chord structure, arrangement, melody, lyrics etc. Very rarely would you get the entire band contributing equally to a song, usually the chord structure and lyrics will come from one or two people.

2. Playing a song

Requires competency on instrument. You get told the chord structure, and play along as you see fit. If you can't, well, err, learn how to. You shouldn't need someone else to write your parts if you can play your instrument. Other people can give you ideas for sure - like "can you do a dropping bassline here?" or "can your guitar play the same melody as the vocals in the verse?" but if you need someone to write your parts you're really not up to scratch.

Your main problem seems to be the second one. They aren't competent on their instruments, at least when it comes to foreign material. I'd actually not let them into the band to start with, but if I were to advise someone who asked "how do I play another person's song?" I'd tell them to learn some theory.
And no, Guitar Hero will not help. Even on expert. Really.
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#3
It doesn't seem that collaborating on writing is an issue. It's getting the band to interpret your songs for a band setting.

"I have the song written. I just need to flesh out how it will sound in the end." This is called production.

You're a guitarist in your band. You should be able to come up with a guitar part or two to share with the other guitarist. If you can't, then he should be able to come up with one that he can share with you, based on what the song is doing. If neither of you can, then your band is really lacking a decent guitarist.

Now, not being a drummer or a bass player, you have a great excuse for not being able to come up with drum and bass parts. After all, that's why THEY play drums and bass, and why you don't. If they can't listen to your song and come up with parts that work, then your band lacks a decent drummer or bass player.

CT
Could I get some more talent in the monitors, please?

I know it sounds crazy, but try to learn to inhale your voice. www.thebelcantotechnique.com

Chris is the king of relating music things to other objects in real life.
#4
Quote by PartyLikeRyan
Okay, so I am the lead singer and guitar player in an indie rock band. I've been writing music for about 4 years and I've always had trouble writing for a band. If I write a song it usually starts out on an acoustic and later on I'll bring it to the band. I write good songs according to what people have told me and what I think.. But the other members of the band (bass, guitar, drums) have never written music before. So here I am with a room full of unsure eyes looking at me with no idea what to play to my songs. I want the band to be a collaboration of more than one mind but it seems like I'm the only one that knows what I'm doing. I've tried writing parts for everyone but I find it a very overwhelming and stressfull thing to have to do on top of teaching the other members their parts. I don't know what to do right now, if anyone had some advice that would be great.


I know you're situation because I've been it the same one before and yeah it's stressful as **** and it's annoying to do everything, the whole 360. But have you explained to them exactly how stressful it is and why?

Dude, it's all about communication! Tell them, "I can't keep doing your part. I'm only a guitarist, I'm not the whole band. Please help out."
#5
sounds to me like you're in the same boat i was in a little while ago when i was searching for a new band. these guys may be a good bunch of people, and might be able to play instruments well if given tabs or covers to learn (like a lot of people are) but writing original music takes a higher level of talent and skill. i find a lot of people just aren't at that level, and even less are compatible with what you want to write.

-what you should do is currently think of yourself as a "band" with a single person (forget the rest of the guys for a second). think about exactly the direction you want to go with your music and figure out what they want to do. (if they want hard rock covers while you want acoustic originals for example, it wont work out.)
-start examining each member individually now. do they posses the necessary skill/theory to write along to your music? (my problem before happened to be a classicly trained guitarist that didn't know what to do with my modern acoustic riffs that were reminiscent of a perfect circle/10 years/evans blue).
-figure out if a band situation is actually the right step for you. may a solo career actually benefit you? would a duet benefit you? (this is what i chose - just me on guitar, and my girlfriend on keyboard)
-would moving to a higher level of musicians be beneficial? ones that know a whole lot of theory and know how to work with your stuff?

there's a tonne more questions you must ask yourself and figure out. but its obvious that from this situation you're in, its not working. you cant keep writing parts for everybody. and they cant rely on you to write parts for them. they either need to learn to write their own, or you may be forced to move on (or replace individuals).

is the problem communication? do they not see the vision that you see? maybe incorporate them within the writing process and not just show up with a bunch of riffs/lyrics. if they know what you're feeling and where the background of the lyrics came from, they may be able to understand the feel you want of the song. if they understand the theory behind the music and why you chose everything you did musically, they may be able to better play along and write their own parts to the songs. try to either explain all the parts, or write with them.

i'm sorry about rambling. i'm only trying to help...
#7
Well you could ask the other members if they want to try their hand at songwriting. For example, The Doors. Jim Morrison wrote all their music, and when they needed another song, he told the band that they should try and write some stuff. The next day Robby Krieger (the guitarist) comes to the band with this song he started. That became "Light My Fire" the band's biggest hit, and it was his first time writing a song. Could be a similar thing with your band.

But I think I know what you mean. I'm in almost the exact same position now, and have been for a while. Especially with my oh so troublesome drummer. He doesn't have the patience to sit down and listen to what I'm telling him, and ends up playing his own thing, which usually doesn't fit, 'cuz he's confused and doesn't know what to do. But I've been working with him, and the better you communicate, the better they'll pick up on it, get an idea of what you want to do, and start coming up with their own parts that fit your song. So most important is communicating with them, and getting them to see and hear what you do. If you could record demos of the songs, I think that'd really help. You can download software to use for free, record a quick demo, and play it for them, so they get an idea of what it's all supposed to sound like in the end.

Anyway, good luck with it
#8
Play with competent musicians. If you are going through a song and it comes to a chord like B minor or F# major and someone in your band doesn't know what to do... don't play with that person they suck, or are just too new to effectively play coherent music. Its not a problem if they don't write music.... if they have a chord progression in front of them that you wrote and are explaining to them, they should be able to do a basic strum the chord or pluck the root note, otherwise don't even bother wasting your time.
*Official Deadhead*

The times they are a-changin'
#9
Quote by trey-col89
Play with competent musicians. If you are going through a song and it comes to a chord like B minor or F# major and someone in your band doesn't know what to do... don't play with that person they suck, or are just too new to effectively play coherent music. Its not a problem if they don't write music.... if they have a chord progression in front of them that you wrote and are explaining to them, they should be able to do a basic strum the chord or pluck the root note, otherwise don't even bother wasting your time.


When Bob Weir first walked into guitar lessons with Jerry Garcia I doubt Bobby could keep up Jerry. To just say someone sucks and that they are a waste of time is very immature you were at that stage once too. In my band my bass player didn't know anything, so I taught him to follow root notes for the first few jams while teaching theory and song structure. Within 3-4 months he had already written 5 song(though he got rid of 3 of them cause not everyone's first song is a gem). If you want your band to work on the same level build the people under you up to your level then go from there.
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Gear:
MIA Fender Stratocaster
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Fender Hot Rod Deville
Blackstar HT5, HT40

various pedals
#10
Yeah well when Bob Weir first walked in, Jerry was just learning electric guitar as well, just as Phil was learning bass and yadda yadda yadda. Point being, they were all learning collectively. Sure Bob kind of sucked when they started, but they all kind of did. It wasn't till a few years later that they really got it down. Plus, that was almost 50 years ago you're talking about... different times, different circumstances. So if the thread starter is already advanced to the point where he's writing songs and parts for all the instruments, why should he waste his time playing with kids who can't play or don't really know how yet? It will just be incredibly frustrating for him.

I think you are under the impression that I'm saying "don't play with people unless they can rip like Clapton" when thats not at all what I'm saying. The thread starter has said that his "band mates" can't even follow a simple chord progression. He is clearly way more advanced and should be playing with people around his own skill level.

Oh and your last sentence really doesn't make a whole lot of sense, it should read:

"If you want your band to work on the same level, start by playing with people who are at your level, and not people who can't hang with you."

You see, novices and bad players can be in bands too, I'm not saying they don't deserve to be in bands or anything, but if you are a pretty good musician who writes songs, and the rest of your band can't even play them, whats the point? If they could at least just follow the root notes and just strum the chords on the down beat, nothing fancy, I'd say maybe give them a chance, but if they don't know ANYTHING, I wouldn't wait up for them.
*Official Deadhead*

The times they are a-changin'
Last edited by trey-col89 at Aug 7, 2010,
#11
So if I can rip like Clapton but my band mate doesn't have to. But we need to be on the same level? What I'm saying is the TS should take the time teach them their respective parts and tell them why it works. If your such a great song writer it shouldn't be to hard to explain what your doing to people. Anyone can get it down if they work at it for a while. And if they are not determined enough to learn it you SHOULD look for new band mates.
www.myspace.com/thestalkingbutlers

Holy Knight of the Crusading Order of the Stratocaster.

Gear:
MIA Fender Stratocaster
MIA Fender Telecaster
MI? Fender TC-90

Fender Hot Rod Deville
Blackstar HT5, HT40

various pedals
#12
if ur bassist is retarded he can play simple root notes. if he knows anything, he can make his own basslines. if ur drummer is retarded, he can probably almost always play the simple rock/blues beat, if he knows anything, hopefully he can shred the whole time. most people dont like to play with "shredding" drummers but its my personal opinion that percussion shouldnt be just for keeping time, thats what a metronome is for.
ur other guitarist cant be retarded, unless you write his parts for him, he has to know how to play lead guitar and how to sound adequite. with all that, you've got a band. if neither of you know lead guitar, i would suggest you get rid of him.