#1
Please note that I put this here instead of the "Songwriting and Lyrics" forum because I'm talking about the composing/musical side of things as well as lyrical.

What is the general consensus on books about/concerning songwriting? I am a bit sceptical as I feel that if I were to follow the advice given in such books, the results may not be 100% "me". Does anyone else share this concern? I'm also thinking that conversely, that these materials may make me a better (whatever that means) songwriter so that I can express myself more eloquently than I can now.

So what do you guys think? If you know of any good books on songwriting, I'd love to hear your recommendations.
New To Town With A Made Up Name

In The Angel's City

Chasing Fortune And Fame
09/03/2012
#2
I don't know. I have a copy of Ricky Rooksby's highly-regarded "How to Write Songs on Guitar" and I'm somewhat ambivalent about it. I think there may well be better songwriting books out there, but I haven't read them. There are a few useful nuggets in the book, but a lot of filler.

That being said, your specific fear strikes me as largely unfounded. It's about the difference between craft and art: a book can help you learn how to craft your songs, how to take a musical idea and turn it into a functioning song. But it can't teach you to create that musical idea to begin with. But you don't lose your connection to songs by crafting them well, rather, you deepen it because you are using craft to put your musical ideas in the best context to appreciate them - it's like framing a picture. Picture isn't made less original by the frame.
#3
Thanks for your response, and I'm beginning to feel that I agree with your second paragraph. However, the elusive concept of "better songwriting" still has me a bit on the fence. I mean, is there anything that I could gain from these sort of books that I couldn't gain from just writing heaps of songs? I doubt Bach, The Beatles of Bob Dylan read "get better" books, but became the masters the are through a whole heap of practise.
New To Town With A Made Up Name

In The Angel's City

Chasing Fortune And Fame
09/03/2012
#4
Quote by HotspurJr
I don't know. I have a copy of Ricky Rooksby's highly-regarded "How to Write Songs on Guitar" and I'm somewhat ambivalent about it. I think there may well be better songwriting books out there, but I haven't read them. There are a few useful nuggets in the book, but a lot of filler.


I've got it too, really covers chordal based song writing more than anything else. Really depends on what you want to know.

May just be best to learn general theory and try and apply it to song writing.
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#5
Well, look, Lennon and McCartney were *overt* in their comments that they studied, for example, Goffin and King's work and tried to emulate it.

What good instruction does is help that process along. It doesn't say, "Do this."

Rather, it points to an example and says, "Look at what this song does here. Notice how it contributes to the whole in this way. This is why it does that. Here are some other examples of the same principle applied in different ways."

Yes, you could learn that on your own, perhaps, if you stumbled across the idea and figured it out. Or you might, on your own, eventually notice the idea in songs you liked and figure out how to start applying it. But good instruction speeds the process along by helping you to see the techniques at work.

Dylan studied Guthrie extensively and immersed himself in folk music in general as he learned to put together songs. He was deeply immersed in the New York Folk scene (eg - studying the music) before he recorded his first album. Which, by the way, included only two original songs (neither of which is particularly highly regarded).

Bach? He studied and trained extensively as a musician before he was a composer. He was deeply aware of the music which had come before him.

So I don't think you're likely to learn anything from books that you CAN'T learn from studying songs and writing songs ... on the other hand, it's quite possible that you'll learn it must faster and deeper with the aid of proper instruction.
#6
Step 1: learn how to play very well technically on your instrument and always stay in time

Step 2: learn as much FORMAL and TRUE theory as you can

Step 3: analyze you're favorite songs and figure out WHY they sound to you the way they sound

Step 4: take those characteristics that cause those feelings and use them when you want. music isn't like "oh he used the same chord as the other guy, how unoriginal" its more like "oh he knew when that chord sounded best, i like this guy."
#7
Quote by HotspurJr


So I don't think you're likely to learn anything from books that you CAN'T learn from studying songs and writing songs ... on the other hand, it's quite possible that you'll learn it must faster and deeper with the aid of proper instruction
.

This basically answers my question. Thank you to everyone who responded. Again, if there are any recommendations on some good songwriting books, I'd love to hear them.
New To Town With A Made Up Name

In The Angel's City

Chasing Fortune And Fame
09/03/2012