Poll: Music or lyrics first?
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View poll results: Music or lyrics first?
25 35%
16 22%
31 43%
Voters: 72.
I find that writing lyrics are actually harder for me if I already have the music. I usually write my lyrics first, then write the music around the tone of the lyrics.

What do you guys find easier? I mean, I know it's different strokes for different folks but what do you all think?
I was always told music 1st...but if you have lyrics you should do them 1st and change them based on the music...doesnt really matter....most metal bands do music 1st, not sure how other styles work...if you like lyrics 1st do it
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I usually write music first, but I'm experimenting with lyrics first, and it's hard for me, since I don't know what the instrumentation will sound like it's hard to get good sounding vocal melodies.
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I start with one to push the other along. Like sometimes I'll put together a couple chords and then just improvise some (usually shit) words to get a feeling for how I want the tone of the song to be.
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What I usually do is I'll write lyrics with a riff in my head. I won't actually play the riff out on my guitar, but I'll know what it may sound like (although usually I change it). Although if I come up with a good vocal melody I'll just think of the music later.
Music should always take precedent since it is far more important. We don't listen to lyrics, we listen to music. Lyrics just happen to be involved on occasion.
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Quote by AllJudasPriest
Music should always take precedent since it is far more important. We don't listen to lyrics, we listen to music. Lyrics just happen to be involved on occasion.

That is such a dumbass thing to say. Indeed, music does take precedent in some genres of music but I personally think lyrics are massively important. I can't be doing with some pretentious arsehole singing pseudo-poetry at me. Singing so much but saying so little. I'm looking at you, lead singer of the Editors! And you Brandon Flowers! And I hate to say this one, but yes, you SOMETIMES Josh Homme!

EDIT: Listen to Joy Division if you haven't already done so... The perfect symbiosis of great music and great lyrics. Bob Dylan I suppose relies MORE on lyrics, he's a musical poet!

And finally, what do you mean when you say "we"? "We" can only mean everyone else who isn't you or the person you directed your comment at. I don't know about everyone else, but I don't like the fact you feel inclined to speak on my behalf sir.

Good day to you and your assumptive opinions.
Last edited by Bag'ed at May 23, 2011,
+1 ^

Generalizing the tastes of others, stating firmly that no one listens to the lyrics in a song is just plane stupid. It's among the first things I listen to when I buy a new album. I take out the album sleave and read the lyrics as the songs go through them. It's great.

I often judge how much I like a band by how good their vocals/lyrics are. Devil Sold His Soul, for instance, are - or, I should say WOULD be - a favourite of mine, except the lyrics are pants. The music is very intense and very emotional, but the words are just plane dull and cheesy. For that reason they'll never be my favourite band.

Deftones, though, have a somewhat similar sound (particularly in their production) but have really interesting and opaque lyrics, something I love about the band. That is one of the many reasons why they are my favourite band.

To be honest, your name, AllJudasPriest, tells me enough about you to know that you're not interested in music that has a heart. You're just interested in musical noise. I like Judas Priest if I'm in the mood, but it has no heart and no soul to me. It's just dance music with distortion and long hair.
Lyrics first for me. I don't want to compromise what I have to say. I'll adjust lines to fit in with the music afterward, but there's so many more combinations of words and syllables to make fit than there are chords in a key.
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I voted lyrics, because, out of the 80 or so songs I have written in the past 6 months, probably for 90% I have written the lyrics first, so I think that's more than 'depends'. If you look at songs, I think it would maybe fair to say that music aimed at musicians tends to have the music written first, whereas music aimed at the general public tends to have the lyrics written first.
i tend to do them at the same time. for example im here riffing on my guitar and kinda improvising strings of words to try and make things fit. thats how i come up with a rough draft of a song then i revise it later.
I voted depends, Honestly I think I've written more lyrics than songs but most of those lyrics haven't put into song, but as far as working collaberatively with my band, we do music first, and since were a metal band no one really cares what were saying, neither do i Haha

Someone said something about no one listening to lyrics, I'd have to disagree, though I will I have never listened to music for it's vocal skill or whatever, ive always been about instrumentation. But a good example of music that relies on lyrics is that stupid pop stuff (or relatively speaking Ive heard more intelligent lyrics out of death metal bands).

I suppose to each is own, but I've never been a fan for music that relies on catchiness or over simplicity, with cute lyrics that essentially all mean the same thing
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Usually I write the melody first, but I find myself waning in the lyrics department that way. If I write lyrics first, the whole process becomes sluggish, so the newest song I've been writing combines both. I write a verse, I play random riffs over it while singing/whispering the lyrics softly to see if it fits. Works the best for me.
Lyrics first, always. As a vocalist, music to me has always been about the lyrics and vocals, so I'm not going to force out some random bullshit lyrics just to fit a melody or chord progression; I make the instruments compliment my lyrics and vocals.

More often than not, I'll take a poem I've written that flows particularly well and sing it out until I get a solid vocal melody, then imagine the instruments behind it. Actually figuring out how to play the instruments I imagined can be hard, but it turns out amazingly for me.
I voted 'depends' yet most of the time I write music first. I've tried writing lyrics first, but in most cases I struggled to get a melody or a chord progression that I liked. I will most definitely look to change things up in the future though to see if this changes.

I think the reason why I prefer writing music first is probably 'cause I like fitting lyrics to the music instead, rather than the other way round. For me, I just sense out the mood of the music, and then work from there. But no it shouldn't matter which way you do it, although I suggest to try both methods just to experiment!
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music first, i sometimes will come up with lyrics first but it never ends as well as when i write a cool, sick sounding riff to start a song
I say it can go either way.

Sometimes you have a really sweet piece of music you've come up with and you have to find lyrics to meet the needs OR lyrics will come to you as you play the music over and over...


sometimes you've got an idea or story in your head that you put to lyrics and in that case it's way more important to tell the story/express the idea than play catchy riffs or whatever.

Personally I prefer the latter idea. If you've got lyrics in your mind you tend to think of different ways of playing the guitar. Some, like that poster a few places above me, don't listen to the lyrics but I find them to be highly important.
I've never actually had any trouble with lyrics, so I've always written them first, although sometimes I find it harder to add the music to the right tempo and things as the lyrics followed originally in my head, in those cases I generally write the lyrics and add the music to it along the way, so I can keep it all fresh in my mind.