#1
Hello everyone. Me again....

I'm quite pleased with my songwriting progress so far. But one major barrier that I've hit comes with adding lyrics. Now, I can write lyrics and poetry until the cows come home. The problem is that writing lyrics and applying them to a song are two different things. I have plenty of instrumental stuff (check original recordings for examples) but for some of it, try as I might, I just cannot even hum a melody over the top. For others words seem to come very naturally just by listening to a song. Is some of my stuff just complete without lyrics or is there more to adding vocals to songs?

For those of you who do write your own songs, do you start with the lyrics and build a song around them or do you write an instrumental and then add vocals if needed? Which approach is favourable? When I write lyrics first, I often find that it is very difficult to write music around them, but if I write the music first, it is often difficult to even begin adding words...
#2
a little of both.

When I have the music first I will listen to it and then mumble syllables (vocalize) and sometimes the odd word or phrase will come through. The rest is just noise. That gives me the basic rhythm and melody ideas. I then write the words to them and develop it more fully.
Si
#3
For me it can go either way. I find writing good lyrics is more difficult for me so I like to start with a good hook line and idea of where the story line is going. If I can get two good lines for a chorus I know I can add music to it. Like 20Tigers I will mumble a tune or do la-las to flesh out the melody. I turn on my Tascam DP4 with built in microphones and just let it record as I stumble around with ideas either on my guitar or my keyboard. Often I'll do something that almost works but not quite then 10 minutes later do something else that would work with the thing I did earlier but I don't remember exactly what it was. Because I was recording the whole time I can just go back and listen to what happened earlier and marry up two or more ideas.

I almost always start with a few lines of lyrics first because for me lyrics are very important. I look at it like 50/50. Unless you are doing strictly instrumental stuff good lyric and melody go hand in hand.
Yes I am guitarded also, nice to meet you.
Last edited by Rickholly74 at Sep 8, 2015,
#4
I find it pretty much impossible to not write the lyrics first, because they shape the rest of the song.

The biggest tip I picked up back in the day was that your lyrics need to sound natural. IE, their rhythm should follow the inflections of speech that you use normally. ALterING your INfleeeeecTION or TIIIIIMing DON'T souuuuuuuund right. You dig?
#5
Quote by CarsonStevens
The biggest tip I picked up back in the day was that your lyrics need to sound natural. IE, their rhythm should follow the inflections of speech that you use normally. ALterING your INfleeeeecTION or TIIIIIMing DON'T souuuuuuuund right. You dig?


Point taken
#6
Quote by Serotonite
For those of you who do write your own songs, do you start with the lyrics and build a song around them or do you write an instrumental and then add vocals if needed?


Sometimes one sometimes the other. I tend to go with the feeling, sometimes a piece of lyric needs a certain kind of a riff or a theme and other times the feeling of a song invokes the need for certain kind of lyrics. Really depends on the situation.

Quote by Serotonite
Which approach is favourable?


There's no right or wrong in these matters, just try everything out until you've got the know-how and workflow that suits you the best. Ask for feedback, experiment, rinse and repeat. There are really no rules for songwriting.

Quote by CarsonStevens
The biggest tip I picked up back in the day was that your lyrics need to sound natural. IE, their rhythm should follow the inflections of speech that you use normally. ALterING your INfleeeeecTION or TIIIIIMing DON'T souuuuuuuund right. You dig?


Might work for some things and not for the others.
#7
Without vocals, a song is not a "song". A song is something you sing, ie wth your voice.

I.e., you don't "add vocals" to a "song". You start with the vocals.

OK, you could "add vocals" to an instrumental piece, making a "song" in that way; it's been done lots of times.
But this is not just semantics! Songwriting is much easier, a more organic process, if you begin with something you want to sing - even if it's only a short phrase. You have to start with that kind of idea: a singable phrase (even if it doesn't have good words to start with), so you have a "seed" to grow it from. Chords and the rest can come later, and should slot in easily enough if the melody is working.
Last edited by jongtr at Sep 9, 2015,
#8
^ Well, I guess people still refer to instrumentals as "songs". It may be technically incorrect, but really, who cares?

And there are a lot of people who start with the instruments. The instrumental track inspires them to write a melody - they have something to sing over. But yeah, there are a lot of ways of doing it, and different ways work for different people.

How to add lyrics to your instrumental track? Well, usually songs have a certain kind of structure like verse-chorus-verse-chorus or whatever. So maybe think which part of your instrumental track is supposed to be the verse or the chorus. Do you have lyrics for the verse or chorus?

Maybe find the rhythm of the melody first. Once you got that, it's easier to start experimenting with melodies - you already know when to sing which words, you just need to find the melody. I don't know. This is how I wrote one song. But sometimes you just come up with everything at once.

But yeah, if you have already written an instrumental track and some lyrics, try to think of the mood of the instrumental track and decide if it fits the mood of some of your lyrics (if it doesn't, you may want to write new lyrics to fit the mood of the track, or write change the instrumental part to fit the mood of your lyrics). It would sound pretty strange if the lyrics were about how happy you are, but the music sounded very dark and sad. So yeah, if you already have music and lyrics that you haven't combined yet, think about their mood. If the moods are way different, it may be the reason why it's so hard to come up with a melody to fit your instrumental track.
Quote by AlanHB
Just remember that there are no boring scales, just boring players.

Gear

Bach Stradivarius 37G
Charvel So Cal
Fender Dimension Bass
Hartke HyDrive 210c
Ibanez BL70
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#9
Quote by MaggaraMarine
^ Well, I guess people still refer to instrumentals as "songs". It may be technically incorrect, but really, who cares?
Because I think it makes a difference to how we think about composing.
Melody - even when instrumental - needs to be singable (even if extreme examples would need a very gifted singer).
Quote by MaggaraMarine

And there are a lot of people who start with the instruments. The instrumental track inspires them to write a melody - they have something to sing over.
Sure. I was only trying to turn the emphasis around.
A different perspective often helps.
#10
Quote by MaggaraMarine

How to add lyrics to your instrumental track? Well, usually songs have a certain kind of structure like verse-chorus-verse-chorus or whatever. So maybe think which part of your instrumental track is supposed to be the verse or the chorus. Do you have lyrics for the verse or chorus?

Maybe find the rhythm of the melody first. Once you got that, it's easier to start experimenting with melodies - you already know when to sing which words, you just need to find the melody. I don't know. This is how I wrote one song. But sometimes you just come up with everything at once.


https://soundcloud.com/serotonin-17/new-song-update

How about this track? I've tried adding a vocal part but I just can't seem to, is it just not really fit for vocals? Thanks!
#11
That could work as the intro. Maybe use the same chords for the verse with a bit simplified guitar part. Maybe it doesn't need to be simplified. But I don't see why vocals wouldn't fit that. You would of course need to write some other parts too. But yeah, that could work as the verse progression. Or maybe just use that as an intro/interlude and come up with something else for the verse and chorus. There are so many things you could do.
Quote by AlanHB
Just remember that there are no boring scales, just boring players.

Gear

Bach Stradivarius 37G
Charvel So Cal
Fender Dimension Bass
Hartke HyDrive 210c
Ibanez BL70
Laney VC30
Tokai TB48
Yamaha FG720S-12
Yamaha P115
#12
Okay, I'll try writing some lyrics for it. Though I'm not sure what mood to go for. What do you think in that regard?
#13
^ Well, listen to the song. What kind of lyrics does it make you want to write?

So, is that your verse progression or are you going to write something else for the verse? Have you thought about the chorus? Do you want your song to have a chorus? If yes, I think chorus is the most important part of the song. That's what people usually remember from a song.
Quote by AlanHB
Just remember that there are no boring scales, just boring players.

Gear

Bach Stradivarius 37G
Charvel So Cal
Fender Dimension Bass
Hartke HyDrive 210c
Ibanez BL70
Laney VC30
Tokai TB48
Yamaha FG720S-12
Yamaha P115
#14
Quote by MaggaraMarine
So, is that your verse progression or are you going to write something else for the verse? Have you thought about the chorus? Do you want your song to have a chorus? If yes, I think chorus is the most important part of the song. That's what people usually remember from a song.


Probably the verse. I think the chorus will be a simpler guitar melody (one guitar) an maybe some violin or cello in the background. Still not sure.