#1
Ok, here's the thing. There's going to be some line up changes in my band. We talked about things a lot and we want to play simpler music so there's less stress during performances and we can have more fun. Think Cancer Bats, Killswitch Engage, other high energy music with simple but good sounding riffs.

Now, I write most of the music and being a prog metal (ish) band (Protest the Hero, Fall of Troy type stuff), I'm more used to writing engaging riffs and odd time signatures. I think minimalist riffs and song structures that are well executed can be just as brilliant (if not more) as these progressive efforts. The question is, if I'm used to composing as such, how do I write in a more minimalist style without copying others? How do you get into such a mindset? Should I just make the guys jam more and see what comes out? Anyone ever made a change like this in their sound?

Thanks so much.
#2
I would think you'll be accidentally coming up with riffs that already exist a lot more often. I don't mean to say that you're unoriginal or anything, it's just a probability thing.

In saying that, "simpler" riffs are theoretically easier to create, so if it's not as original as you'd like it to be, you can quickly and easily tweak it, or scrap it and move on to the next thing.
#3
I would actually recommend starting with a good, catchy melody instead of writing riffs if you want to make simpler songs. You need to get a great chorus, then from there you can build your song, if you listen to KSE, you'll notice that often their riffs are very similar, but they all have the chorus the listener will latch onto. A big part of making simpler music is shifting the focus from the instruments to the singer, and the best way to do that is to shift the focus in the composition process.
#4
In a case like you described, I don't think simpler would be better. (I hate "less is more" in music.) Frankly, if they joined the band knowing you guys had played prog metal, why exactly do you have to dumb it down for them?
#5
When composing simple songs, I like to think about the audience. About their expectations. I imagine I'm standing on a stage and performing the song. And as I write the song, I keep checking whether it has a chance to satisfy expectations of my imaginary audience. Of course, this trick works for complex music as well.

About writing simple music without copying others. Is such a thing even possible? If the musical ideas are conventional enough, the chances are that you're not the first who came up with them. In general, I wouldn't worry about reaching similar/same results as other composers.
#6
Yes simple is better for a band in it's infancy or in your case, a line-up change. I don't understand how some people get their complicated projects off the ground... and many times they don't.

It's difficult enough just getting a four piece band together to perform variations of I-IV-V songs because everybody wants to play the complex songs first. But when only one person in the band can perform that song, and unless he can play every instrument in that song or explain it, there is going to be problems.
MARTY FRIEDMAN--"It’s a lot easier to be technical than it is stylized; it really is... But I think it’s a lot more rare to have someone who’s really got their own sound because that’s something you can’t practice."
#7
So if I start reorchestrating a bunch of acoustic/piano based songs I should be in the ballpark... not a bad idea, actually... Cheers
#8
Like SandalledSteve said, with "simple" music it's increasingly harder to be original. The more you restrict yourself the harder it is to be "original". It's a maths thing. But that's cool, you just have to shift the focus to something with more freedom. An awesome vocal melody, or a lead, or a hectic drum beat, and so on.

Also, I believe the more you restrict yourself the more you get stuck in the tried and true, because they work the best. Thinking 12 bar blues and the like here. Why do you think so many songs have the same "four chord song" chord progression?
#9
Quote by Grimm312
Also, I believe the more you restrict yourself the more you get stuck in the tried and true, because they work the best. Thinking 12 bar blues and the like here.

Arguably, they don't work the best so much as are the easiest to utilize.

Why do you think so many songs have the same "four chord song" chord progression?

Simple. Ease of use.

But don't confuse ease of use with "working best". What works best is always going to vary.
#10
"Works the best" and "easiest to utilize" are very similar, don't you think? I could say something works the best because it's easiest to utilize, or something is easiest to utilize because it works the best.

And I just wanted to say that if you have simpler stuff going on, you'll want to have something that stands out in the song. A catchy riff, or an awesome drum beat, or really good vocals in the chorus. Something that stands out. In pop music it's called the "hook", and there's even some heavier bands that do it, too. I watched a Queens of the Stone Age concert DVD last night, and most of their songs were very similar to pop songs. Same structure, usually had a nice hook in it, etc.
#11
Do you write the lyrics aswell?

Push yourself. Write a song that only includes two chords. It sounds stupid, but I do think that "less is more" is true in music.. especially if you're talking about appealing to a mass audience.
#12
Quote by Peaceful Rocker

Write a song that only includes two chords.

Yeah, the good old VI,I or I,VI It's become sort of a running joke in the band to spot it in as many songs as possible. But yeah I get what you mean. If it worked for Alexisonfire it can work for me!
#13
It's not easy to make songs that are both simple and original at the same time. That's why I avoid making simple songs and avoid overused chord progressions. One way to sound original is to make music so complex that it's beyond the skill level of the majority. (not talking about myself, as I can't do this consistently yet) Including a lot of modulations and extended chords. It will start to sound like jazz pretty quickly, though

But why do you want to make simple music? If you make complex music and it is good, your audience will find you eventually. You don't have to dumb your music down so that it sounds like every damn pop song.
#14
Quote by Grimm312
"Works the best" and "easiest to utilize" are very similar, don't you think? I could say something works the best because it's easiest to utilize, or something is easiest to utilize because it works the best.

That depends on what you mean by "works the best". If your goal is to write really simple pop songs, then a fairly standard I-IV-V-I progression probably "works the best". On the other hand, if you want to write an instrumental piece, you might need a bit more than that.

What I meant by "easiest to utilize" is that everyone knows very basic progressions that don't have a lot of extra stuff to them. Everyone can play a basic I-IV-V-I progression, once they get past the very basics. But whether that progression works the best or not depends on what you're trying to do.


Anyway, all of that aside, my whole point to TS is that, while it's ok to be fairly simplistic when restructuring a band, I don't think it's very advantageous, from an originality standpoint, to try to write simplistic music in the long run. If TS is ok with not really being original, then by all means he should do what most of you are suggesting. I'm simply saying I think writing more complex music can have more rewards in the long run, in terms of originality.
#15
I still reckon you can be "original" and write simple songs. You just have to move the focus of the song away from the "simple" harmonic structure. You have to find somewhere else to be original.

In the long run, though, I do agree with you. The more you limit your resources, the quicker they run out. In saying that though, sometimes I find restricting myself is a very useful tool when writing music.
#16
Thanks for your thoughts! The reason I'm looking for a simpler sound is because I write basically everything in the band but the other guys are having trouble playing the stuff. Not to slag them off or anything, but the material is a bit steep, plus we haven't rehearsed in a long while. I'm experimenting with making the music a bit more interesting with electronics (I have some experience as a producer). Oh that, and we're tuning down to drop A. I think a pretty basic sound coupled with (as Grimm suggested) some hooks using synths and more developed lyrics has the potential to be original enough. It may not be, but at least it can be fun.
#17
Quote by Elintasokas
You don't have to dumb your music down so that it sounds like every damn pop song.

I have to dumb it down for my band mates.
#18
Quote by xxxyyy117
I have to dumb it down for my band mates.


Well you can reduce the number of notes without breaking the chord progressions and melodies etc. You can dumb them down by removing notes that aren't absolutely necessary.
#19
Quote by Elintasokas
Well you can reduce the number of notes without breaking the chord progressions and melodies etc. You can dumb them down by removing notes that aren't absolutely necessary.

+1 Exactly what I plan on doing. Less complicated riffs, with counter melodies, etc. on synths. Just because the guys can't play it doesn't mean I have to write uninteresting stuff, right?
#20
Write what you hear in your ****ing head you goddamn lunatic it's ****ing music.
Last edited by macashmack at Aug 10, 2013,
#21
Quote by macashmack
Write what you hear in your ****ing head you goddamn lunatic it's ****ing music.

<sarcasm>
Well jumpin' jesus on a pogo stick! I ain't never thougt'a doing nothin' like that!
</sarcasm>
On a serious note, congratulations on the least helpful post ever. When you feel like participating in the future, you know. Don't.
#22
Quote by xxxyyy117
<sarcasm>
Well jumpin' jesus on a pogo stick! I ain't never thougt'a doing nothin' like that!
</sarcasm>
On a serious note, congratulations on the least helpful post ever. When you feel like participating in the future, you know. Don't.

lol
#23
Quote by xxxyyy117
Thanks for your thoughts! The reason I'm looking for a simpler sound is because I write basically everything in the band but the other guys are having trouble playing the stuff. Not to slag them off or anything, but the material is a bit steep, plus we haven't rehearsed in a long while.

So, maybe you should play simple stuff at first and gradually get harder and harder. Of course, talk this over with your bandmates and tell them to speak up if they need help or want you to slow the process down a bit. Just an alternative line of thought.