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#1
Ive been writing songs in the last year and kinda getting a hang on it.
I usually just find chord progressions or movements that i like and think are different.
Then i record them, and find a melody to go over with a second guitar layer, then i work on counter melodies and basslines.
I'm not a singer, i like vocals, but i just can't sing, i sing to myself when i learn songs or play blues but I wouldn't sing on stage because my voice just sucks.

I like the songs i write and they are usually normal/fast paced indierock songs with some jazzy and bluesy progressions and parts.
The melody is always played by a guitar and would not adopt to being sung.
I like the sound of them and frankly think that they don't need vocals, it's not complex music but quite catchy.

What do you guys think about that in general?
and
Is it a instant no go without vocals, in a sense that it won't appeal to a audience out of principle?
Last edited by Ignore at Oct 21, 2012,
#2
Cutting out the vocals means cutting out the interest which comes from the lyrical content*. That means that all of the interest in your piece has to come from the musical material itself. Whether or not that works out depends on the style of music you're writing in. I can't speak for anyone else, and I know it's probably brash to judge without having listened to any of your work, but I'd say right away that you should either get a vocalist or write in a genre other than 'indie rock' (Preferably classical or jazz), otherwise your material won't appeal to anyone.
.
Last edited by Nietsche at Oct 21, 2012,
#3
theres aot of music that doesnt have vocals if its good music its good music

having said that though alot of people like having vocals becasue they like having something to sing along to
personally i like alot of music without vocals instrumentals and clasial and jazz and such

maybe post some examples of what you write somewhere and see how people like it
#4
yeah thats what im thinking, as long as its good music it doesnt really matter.
I dont post any of my stuff because its just not done, ive been working on several songs in the past and they're all at around 90%

Nietsche, i think we might have a different understanding of the term indie rock or something, does meolodic guitar rock music that doesnt use alot of distortion mean that the musicial material used in it is automatically not able to appeal to anyone ?
Last edited by Ignore at Oct 21, 2012,
#6
If your audience is normal people, then no lyrics means no audience.
In my experience, for the most part, only musicians tend to be able to listen to music without lyrics that goes on for longer than 20 seconds. So, having half a minute intro is a good thing, having a 4 minute song with no lyrics is not going to impress anyone other than people with trained ears.
#8
most of this thread contains matters of opinion, but they're still mostly correct on a larger scale. that said, there are only two objective truths in this thread thus far, and they are as follows:

Quote by AmalgamOfMeat
It's not a song if there's no singing.


Quote by macashmack
If your audience is normal people, then no lyrics means no audience.


if you want to write instrumental rock songs with appeal, you'd better not only be able to play well, you'd better know your shit, and i mean REALLY know your shit. you'd better know how to construct interesting material, and how to derive further material from that. your playing technique had better be damn good, and i'm not talking about running scales, i'm talking about composing melodies and working from that - composing counterpoints (perhaps in other instruments, but keep in mind that the guitar is capable of producing more than a single melody), variations on a theme, or many, many other techniques related to style and form.

if you want to write instrumental rock for the sake of writing instrumental rock, just go ahead and do it. don't let limitations stop you, and don't concern yourself with the advice given (but do learn from it, regardless).

whichever your choice, i can safely say you're probably not going to get it the first few times.

here's a little personal insight: in my opinion, the two most important tools you can use to create interest in your music are repetition and variation, and the two need to be in a great balance. music that has too much variation tends to be more popular among experienced musicians (see: some jazz), and even then there are those among us who don't find it as pleasant as others. music with too much repetition tends to be popular with novice musicians (usually because it's easier to write/perform) and a much larger audience, because very little effort goes into knowing the piece (see: pop music). now, i love both jazz and pop, but the key to really good music is a fantastic balance of these two concepts. everything should be related somehow (unless a certain effect is to be employed).

if you can utilize that concept, you'll be able to write some good music.
Anfangen ist leicht, Beharren eine Kunst.
Last edited by AeolianWolf at Oct 22, 2012,
#9
Quote by Ignore

Is it a instant no go without vocals, in a sense that it won't appeal to a audience out of principle?


There's a lot of interest in music without vocals - particularly if you look in the world of soundtrack music for movies, TV, and video games.

But if you're talking about popular music, stuff that gets played on the radio, that people pay to go see live, that sort of stuff ...

While there are occasional instrumental songs that succeed in that arena, they are rare indeed.

So if you don't want to learn to sing (and don't assume you're no good at it if you're never tried to be good at it - taken lessons, etc) then find a singer who you have similar tastes with and who you get along with and work with them.
#10
Quote by HotspurJr
There's a lot of interest in music without vocals - particularly if you look in the world of soundtrack music for movies, TV, and video games.


absolutely, and a lot of it is beautiful, but there's a biiiiiig difference between that music and classical music (and other instrumental genres). the difference being that the music composed for movies, TV, and video games is meant to provide a background to something going on. even if nobody is talking (take the introductory movie to FFX, for example, where "to zanarkand" played, and while it was a very nice piece of music, it was composed to complement the scenes in the clip), it's meant to provide background. classical works and works like TS is aspiring to write are complete in and of themselves, and are particularly meant to be listened to and enjoyed without any complement. while much of the fantastic music composed for the outlets you're talking about is complete in and of itself, it wasn't intended to be perceived that way (at least not overtly).
Anfangen ist leicht, Beharren eine Kunst.
#12
A lot of music I enjoy has no vocals. If you have heard of four80east they are a jazz group out of Canada that just do layering type music. I feel like if you can't sing well, try to get your melodies across on guitar. The best leads are the ones that feel like you can sing them. Vocals add another element that only needs to be there if you don't feel like your instruments can it get across.
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#13
Quote by fenderbassist12
Vocals add another element that only needs to be there if you don't feel like your instruments can it get across.


that's a very restrictive way of thinking. "use vocals when your instruments can't get the message across."

there are many things vocals can do that instruments cannot do. it's not a matter of feeling like one's instruments can get it across - it's about musical sense (which i find more and more musicians these days have less and less of...).
Anfangen ist leicht, Beharren eine Kunst.
#14
That's true I understated the power of vocals. But if you are not feeling confident in your own vocals you don't necessarily need them in a song.
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#15
Like it or not, most people will judge a band's quality on the quality of the vocalist. If a vocalist isn't present, then they'll likely not even pay enough attention to even bother whether a band is good or not.

Whilst one could point to the top 40 and say "well I'm not making that type of music", it's not about type. Stuff is on the top 40 because it sells. It's pretty clear, the average listener wants a vocalist present or they loose attention. Even me, a guitarist, prefers songs with a vocalist.
And no, Guitar Hero will not help. Even on expert. Really.
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#16
Quote by fenderbassist12
That's true I understated the power of vocals. But if you are not feeling confident in your own vocals you don't necessarily need them in a song.


that's more fair to say, and you added the qualifier "necessarily", so it's all good.

personally, i can do well as a jazz singer or a pop singer, but when it comes to rock and metal, i'm usually out of the loop. i think my best move in those situations is to feature a singer on a few tracks (unless i decided it was best without vocals, which can sometimes be an effective solution).

Quote by AlanHB
Like it or not, most people will judge a band's quality on the quality of the vocalist. If a vocalist isn't present, then they'll likely not even pay enough attention to even bother whether a band is good or not.

Whilst one could point to the top 40 and say "well I'm not making that type of music", it's not about type. Stuff is on the top 40 because it sells. It's pretty clear, the average listener wants a vocalist present or they loose attention. Even me, a guitarist, prefers songs with a vocalist.


a lot of good points here - mostly the first sentence about quality, and the part about "stuff is on the top 40 because it sells".
Anfangen ist leicht, Beharren eine Kunst.
#17
Quote by fenderbassist12
That's true I understated the power of vocals. But if you are not feeling confident in your own vocals you don't necessarily need them in a song.


I'm curious who here has ever gone and seen a show which consistently entirely of instrumental rock. Anyone?

Don't get me wrong, I can think of some great instrumental rock tracks - Cliffs of Dover or Landscapes or who knows. But in a way I almost think those songs sort of make my point. How many of you have even heard of Landscapes, which is the best instrumental rock song I've heard in a long time. And I can't help but think that Eric Johnson could have been so much more successful (not just a niche artist) if he had found a singer he could work with. I mean, Jimmy Page is great, but he's BETTER when he's working with Robert Plant.

But I think it's important to look at what your goals are, and to look at what sort of music out there gets what sort of audience.

And if you're trying to connect with an audience, you really do need vocals. If you can't point to an artist who is playing the sort of shows you want to play who's doing it without vocals, that's got to be something of a wake-up call, doesn't it?

That is to say, if you're asking the question, don't you sort of already know the answer? Because if you knew someone out there who was doing it, you wouldn't have to ask if it was doable.
#18
Quote by AeolianWolf
...there are only two objective truths in this thread thus far, and they are as follows:

Quote by AmalgamOfMeat
It's not a song if there's no singing.

...

...if you want to write instrumental rock songs
Si
#19
Get a singer, occasional rock instrumentals in an album are great, but an album or a gig with no vocals... I wouldn't go to the gig and I wouldn't listen to the album, it would be dull. That's why I can't listen to all these guitar virtuosos for longer than a track, because I get bored.
#20
Thanks for all the answers, with an audience i dont mean a really broad audience, im mean smaller groups, people that are into music a bit more. These tracks are not virtuoso playing, they are more the usual but interesting 3min poppy rock songs with the melody played by a guitar instead of vocals. It's basically often 4 themes played in a row and then repeated once. with an extra part the second time around and thats usually it.
But i will get a friend vocalist to see if she can make up parts to the songs though, or ways one could rewrite, to see if it works.
Last edited by Ignore at Oct 22, 2012,
#21
Quote by 20Tigers


wow, so this is how it feels when you're the one trying to help out and the other party can do nothing but nitpick at semantics...feels good man. i'll edit my comment so the peanut gallery is happy.

back on topic, i often hear of people getting bored at satriani shows (even guitarists). take that for what it's worth.
Anfangen ist leicht, Beharren eine Kunst.
#22
Quote by HotspurJr
I'm curious who here has ever gone and seen a show which consistently entirely of instrumental rock. Anyone?


Well, I went to see Joe Satriani supported by Paul Gilbert, which I thought was going to be an instrumental set, but Gilbert did a couple of pieces with vocals towards the end of his set. It was the tour on the back of the Professor Satchafunkilus release as well so Satch opened with 'I just Wanna Rock' which uses a talk box I think?

i often hear of people getting bored at satriani shows (even guitarists).


When I saw Satch I went with a mate who plays drums and neither of us got bored particularly
.
Last edited by Nietsche at Oct 22, 2012,
#23
I'm curious who here has ever gone and seen a show which consistently entirely of instrumental rock. Anyone?

I have several times. Balmorhea and Explosions in the Sky most recently. They certainly connected with the audience. Just look at how frequently people describe Explosions in the Sky as emotional or cathartic. It may not be as easy to connect with people without using lyrics, but it can still be done very effectively.

I think you can definitely do fine without vocals. As has been said some people won't like it or won't know what to think about it, but I don't think it's really that many people. There are plenty of bands like Mogwai, Balmorhea, and Explosions in the Sky which have little to no vocals and they can find an audience. "Telstar" by The Tornados was even an instrumental number one hit I think.

Like AeolianWolf said, you really have to know what you're doing to have any success, but good instrumental music is better than forcing vocals where they don't really fit. You said the songs don't sound like they need vocals and the melody you have in mind wouldn't work with them. So I don't really see the point in adding them. Besides, there are also people like me who generally prefer instrumental music.
#24
TS, if you're into that kind of thing, check out post-rock. Its usually a bit more relaxed (slower-tempo), but I really enjoy it from a listeners perspective. As said before, repetition and variation are very much present, and there is usually always a crescendo in the latter half of the song. The songs themselves seem to have a purpose, and the artists usually use dynamics effectively, and there are no vocals ~90% of the time. I find that the adding/subtracting of an instrument makes a song a little bit more interesting.

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=JzIK5FaC38w


http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=ZyZ4z662v5w
Caution:
This post may contain my opinion and/or inaccurate information.

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#25
Quote by AeolianWolf
wow, so this is how it feels when you're the one trying to help out and the other party can do nothing but nitpick at semantics...feels good man. i'll edit my comment so the peanut gallery is happy.

back on topic, i often hear of people getting bored at satriani shows (even guitarists). take that for what it's worth.

I just thought it was funny how language is flexible and meaning can be understood in context even when the strict definition doesn't really fit.
Si
#27
Quote by :-D
five times

what's the followup question here


I think he meant how many of us were interested in things like that.
And we don't count. We aren't the "normal" audience. We all have trained ears. We hear more than just the sounds.
It's more interesting to us, if you will.
#28
If you want to sell out, don't play instrumental music. But there are lots of people who enjoy listening to instrumental music. I play in an instrumental rock band (if you want to check us out http://artists.ultimate-guitar.com/hosttrio/) and we aren't really trying to sell our music, we just play it for fun. I think some time we are going to get a singer and start writing songs with lyrics, don't know. But I'm pretty sure there are some people that like instrumental parts. But it's not going to be on top 40 list. Metallica, for example, has some instrumental songs and long instrumental parts in their songs and they are still very popular. But if you want the average guy that listens to radio pop to like your music, instrumental rock isn't the way to go unless it has something very special (and if it had, you would be famous already). Steve Vai and Joe Satriani are good examples of instrumental artists who are famous (though they also have some songs with vocals). Also Jimi Hendrix had some instrumental songs and long instrumental jams in his gigs (though it was the 60s and people were stoned and wanted to hear those hippie jams).

Do you play in a band? If you don't then find a band. Not all of the music you write should be published. I do songs for myself and the songs we want to play with our band, we write with our band, at least edit our own songs to fit our band. Everybody brings their own style to the song and it starts to sound different. It's always good to write with somebody who can give you ideas and advice. Also you can use ideas from your old instrumental songs and transform them into a song with vocals. You don't need to publish everything you write. And you can always edit your songs.
Quote by AlanHB
Just remember that there are no boring scales, just boring players.

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#29
^^^ Selling out...I have so many issues with the phrase/concept/negativity associated with it I'm tempted to write an article on "selling out" at different levels, the main myth associated with it and how it can help you generally by just getting over yourself.
And no, Guitar Hero will not help. Even on expert. Really.
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#30
Quote by AlanHB
^^^ Selling out...I have so many issues with the phrase/concept/negativity associated with it


This so much.

Quote by AlanHB
I'm tempted to write an article on "selling out" at different levels, the main myth associated with it and how it can help you generally by just getting over yourself.


Do it!
#31
Quote by AlanHB
^^^ Selling out...I have so many issues with the phrase/concept/negativity associated with it I'm tempted to write an article on "selling out" at different levels, the main myth associated with it and how it can help you generally by just getting over yourself.

Yeah, I was lacking a better term. I don't like to use it either. I wasn't meaning anything negative with it. I meant that if you want to sell many albums, instrumental rock is not the way to do it.
Quote by AlanHB
Just remember that there are no boring scales, just boring players.

Gear

Bach Stradivarius 37G
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#32
if you don't want vocals in your music, the end result will probably be a lot better instrumental than trying to jam a vocal line over it.

plus, plenty of electronic music (which is becoming increasingly more significant in rock/metal) goes without vocals, as well as a very large portion of jazz.

i don't know where you guys get the idea that only vocal music is big (outside of the top, like, 2% of bands that get the big checks)
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#33
Quote by Hail
i don't know where you guys get the idea that only vocal music is big (outside of the top, like, 2% of bands that get the big checks)


Well, you might notice that some of us started by asking him what his goals are.

#34
Quote by HotspurJr
Well, you might notice that some of us started by asking him what his goals are.



you should know by now i don't actually read threads and address specific problems, just address vague ideas that don't require much of me
Quote by theogonia777
Hail killed MT

Quote by jongtr
I want to be Hail when I grow up.
#35
Quote by Hail
you should know by now i don't actually read threads and address specific problems, just address vague ideas that don't require much of me


I want to sig that
#36
Well, as a guitarist with a terrible voice, I think you should get a vocalist. I have songs with melodies written out for a singer, and I believe that they'll be much better once there is a singer and lyrics. Don't get me wrong, I love instrumentals, but vocals usually capture more interest.
Skip the username, call me Billy
#37
Quote by AlanHB
^^^ Selling out...I have so many issues with the phrase/concept/negativity associated with it I'm tempted to write an article on "selling out" at different levels, the main myth associated with it and how it can help you generally by just getting over yourself.

Sometimes the term is appropriate. Lee Child.
Si
#38
Quote by 20Tigers
Sometimes the term is appropriate. Lee Child.


Well it usually means "artist changes style on advice from big company in order to make money", but just think of it from a logical standpoint. If big company wants artists that sound a certain way, why don't they just find an artist who sounds that way already? Answer is they do.
And no, Guitar Hero will not help. Even on expert. Really.
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#39
Quote by aerosmithfan95
Well, as a guitarist with a terrible voice, I think you should get a vocalist. I have songs with melodies written out for a singer, and I believe that they'll be much better once there is a singer and lyrics. Don't get me wrong, I love instrumentals, but vocals usually capture more interest.


I'd say that largely depends on the genre. "So What", "Freddy FreeLoader" - not a word spoken or sung. Grabs my attention every time.

Alicia Keys - many notes, lots of vocals. Radio on? Alicia on? Radio off.

Vocal music != interesting music.
Quote by Hail
oh shut up with that /mu/ bullshit. fidget house shouldn't even be a genre, why in the world would it deserve its own subgenres you twat
#40
Quote by Sleepy__Head
I'd say that largely depends on the genre. "So What", "Freddy FreeLoader" - not a word spoken or sung. Grabs my attention every time.

Alicia Keys - many notes, lots of vocals. Radio on? Alicia on? Radio off.

Vocal music != interesting music.

Thank you for stating the obvious.

But, if you want to appeal to a mass audience (a perfectly reasonable thing to aspire to), you're going to either need a singer or have some seriously interesting music.

Fact of the matter is, I, and most other people, find instrumentals to be a bit boring - especially in large quantities. What is there to sing along to? Sure, you could always hum the notes but it's not the same, which is why you rarely find instrumental bands that are successful in front of a live audience.

TS, don't feel obliged to get a vocalist but realise that it would open up your options. You could still use your instrumentals anyway, the odd one on an album is great.
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