I want to see some opinions on how you UGer's write your original material. Perhaps you noodle out a riff, then find what key its in, and find some accompanying pieces for it, or maybe you first put your chord structure and key on paper, then go from there? Also, what do you deem more useful - a trained ear, or a brain trained heavily in theory?
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Ok, I think a trained ear is much more useful, and the way I do it changes a lot, but mostly we come up w/ lyrics, and then chords to go w/ it, and maybe a riff or solo.
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It's different everytime. I mean, I haven't produced any top notch stuff or anything at all really. I've only really just begun - and plan to never top. But usually the process starts with a chord progression, then maybe some lyrics, and then I'll find a place to throw in a solo. I have not yet completeley mastered putting together a whole song. I end up with bits and pieces that have gaps desperately need to fill in. But hey man, at least I got some ****in' crumbs, aye?
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for me songwriting is never technical. instead, it's an audible sequence of colors. the ear is first and foremost, technical theory is used afterwards as an analysis. just know your intervals, and know as many chords as you can.
I come up with a few chords that sound nice together. Then I play them on the piano and come up with a nice rhythm. There, my song is done. I'll play some improvised melodies in the right hand and accompany with the left.

After this I usually end up adding in some bass and drums, synthesized sounds, and organ or guitar if either is needed. If I decide to have any words they come as samples from other audio clips, but I rarely have any speaking in my pieces.
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Ear to write, theory to make it better.
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