#1
I've always been interested in knowng how a song goes from being a vague idea to a completed song you hear on the radio. If any musician here has done this before, could you list specifically step-by-step what you did to do this? I would just like a template to follow so I have some idea on how to do this. Thank you!

For example:

1.) Song Idea
2.) Song Form
3.) Lyrics
....
....
....

Etc....
#2
I find a nice riff or two after noodling around to base it all off of, then go from there.
Very rarely do I set out to specifically write any particular song.
I write the lead guitar part, then bass, then rhythm guitar, then drums, then lyrics, if there are to be any.
We've drained full confession booths, polluted drinking wells with our repentances, and then stood grinning with our arms around the shoulder of a rotting child.



If you resist change, you will be here forever.
#4
It differs a lot; I've written a song within 20 or so minutes, entire thing: drums, basslines, keyboard parts, rhythm guitar, lead, lyrics. But other times it takes months to get one song down completely.

I usually go:
-Idea (i.e. a feeling or an event)
-Main riff
-Lyrics
-Chord progression/bass line
-Lead guitar playing on top of that

Drums can go anywhere in between.

Writing lyrics is pretty basic; for writing riffs I'll usually just harvest one from a good jam session, or it'll suddenly pop into my head somehow. But after lyrics + vocal melody + main riff/chord progression is done, the rest sort of falls into place.
#5
this is how my songs get written.

-write poems in my songwriting book, at the back of aincent history class.

-noodle on guitar untill i really like something, find some coresponding riffs.

-try singing the poems over the riffs, if they dont work, i change them a bit. (this is how i get the vocal melodies.)

-play the song over and over for about a month, continuously changing bits of music/lyrics.

-play to my drummer (who plays everything) and get his opinion on everything, i then go and finish it with his opinions at heart.

-i then either guitar pro* it and send to band mates, or play it to them at practise, IN FULL so they get the feel.

-we then go through each bit, making drum beats and bass lines, all putting in points.

-Song is made. =)

*my drummer who records our songs, often uses the guitar pro for a click track in recording our seperate bits. works well, with tempo changes and stuff.
#6
It varies a lot for me.

Typically we'll just mess around until we like a good sound. Sometimes we'll get a good guitar riff and then gradually add other parts and instruments until it sounds decent. After that comes the lyrics. The song is constantly evolving until we're satisfied with the results.
#7
Don't try to write like the stuff you hear on the top 40. Write whatever is in your head. Write something that makes people say "oh did he just play that chord progression?" As another UGer said, something that "grabs you by the balls, juggles them around before giving them back".

Now to the actual process. It doesnt matter what order you write it in. Sometimes, if I get a cool chord progression going, I'll improv over that and see what comes out, sometimes it's the other way around. But once you get a general theme, build up on it. Use contrasting keys ect. Keep it exciting.
#8
I havent written much but I'm pretty sure how to approach it. Get a rhythm going. Once you have a rhythm to base words to it becomes easier. From then on its just editing and working stuff out.
#9
One of my friends is insane..He writes all the time..and I play all the time.
He will just come over and ask me to play new riffs i been workin on...
he'll nod his head for a while..then he will stop me and just say..
hey!!..that one right there ..then he will just start singing to it.
Then he builds chords around my riffs..We do a chorus and i back track
and do fills...then the solo's...

People that have witnessed it say its the oddest thing they ever saw..lol
For some reason we just fit together...We do alot of improvs as well...
I just have no idea how he can just imagine everything coming together
just by listening to my throw riffs around for about 10 mins..
sometimes we just start jammin and make up a song on the spot...
and he flips through his notebook and makes one of his writings fit...
I bet Charlie Brown's teacher's name was Mrs.Hammett
Last edited by Washburnd Fretz at Mar 10, 2008,
#10
I usually start with idea or genre.
Will it be metal? hardcore ? punk etc.

Then I try and write one good riff, one that can be repeated often throughout the song.

Then il start to organise areas such as chorus, verse.

Then il write an Intro ( i usually write outros before intros)

Then I'll add stuff like drums + bass (i suck at doing both of these since i dont actually play them), but if you know theory or what sounds good, it should work just fine.

p.s. i find it easier to write rythm guitar, then lead over it.

p.p.s i dont put lyrics in mine since i aint a singer lol.
|-----| Gear |-----|

Ibanez RG(cnt remember)
Marshall MG30DFX
Line 6 Guitar Port


YOUTUBE PR0NZZ
#11
Idea
Rythm/Lyrics
Rifts
Bass
Lead - If There is any am a man of very little action
Don't Think of drums really
I Loved My English Romance
#12
1) come up with a riff while messing around
2) analyze the riff to determine key and time sig
3) further analyze the riff to determine mood and feel
4) create a drum beat that has similar accents that matches the feel
5) analyze said drum beat for rhythm
6) calculate the underlying progression that will best fit riff
7) create a rhythm guitar track that will back the riff
8) create an intro that builds into the riff
9) decide what progression will flow from previous riff into next
10) repeat 1 through 7 for next riff - prechorus
11) repeat 9 - chorus
12) play intro followed by the 3 parts then repeat the 3 parts again up till 2nd chorus
13) get stuck as to the musical direction the song is taking
14) spend the next year on and off analyzing the song's structure and potential
15) move onto the next riff
16) repeat 1-15 with next riff, and subsequently every riff that follows that
17) eventually realize that something is lacking in my music and go on a 'spiritual quest' to find myself in my music, only to return a month later to 'the routine'


generally how it goes, every rare occasion a song writes itself, but a month later i end up hating it.


ive also heard quite often the key to success is to write for the lyrics, get a lyrical pattern in mind and a general structure then go from there. understanding every part thoroughly helps as well (bass, drums, keys, etc)
#13
Quote by Washburnd Fretz
One of my friends is insane..He writes all the time..and I play all the time.
He will just come over and ask me to play new riffs i been workin on...
he'll nod his head for a while..then he will stop me and just say..
hey!!..that one right there ..then he will just start singing to it.
Then he builds chords around my riffs..We do a chorus and i back track
and do fills...then the solo's...

People that have witnessed it say its the oddest thing they ever saw..lol
For some reason we just fit together...We do alot of improvs as well...
I just have no idea how he can just imagine everything coming together
just by listening to my throw riffs around for about 10 mins..
sometimes we just start jammin and make up a song on the spot...
and he flips through his notebook and makes one of his writings fit...
haha, that sounds like me when I was singing for a metal band. It sounds like creativity, not insanity. But as to not toot my own horn too loudly, your friend may be better at it.
Gear:
Inflatable Guitar
Digitech GSP 2101/Mosvalve 962/Yamaha S412V
My Imagination
#15
1. depression
2. loneliness
3. minor chord
4. chord progression containing minor chord
5. vocal melody with incoherent mumbled lyrics
6. second different chord progression
7. write down lyrics
8. record song
9. intentinally delete and forget all about it
#16
Quote by iruka2998
I usually start with idea or genre.
Will it be metal? hardcore ? punk etc.

Then I try and write one good riff, one that can be repeated often throughout the song.

Then il start to organise areas such as chorus, verse.

Then il write an Intro ( i usually write outros before intros)

Then I'll add stuff like drums + bass (i suck at doing both of these since i dont actually play them), but if you know theory or what sounds good, it should work just fine.

p.s. i find it easier to write rythm guitar, then lead over it.

p.p.s i dont put lyrics in mine since i aint a singer lol.

This. I try to write decent lyrics, but everything I write sounds like stuff I've heard before.

Quote by Sabaren
1) come up with a riff while messing around
2) analyze the riff to determine key and time sig
3) further analyze the riff to determine mood and feel
4) create a drum beat that has similar accents that matches the feel
5) analyze said drum beat for rhythm
6) calculate the underlying progression that will best fit riff
7) create a rhythm guitar track that will back the riff
8) create an intro that builds into the riff
9) decide what progression will flow from previous riff into next
10) repeat 1 through 7 for next riff - prechorus
11) repeat 9 - chorus
12) play intro followed by the 3 parts then repeat the 3 parts again up till 2nd chorus
13) get stuck as to the musical direction the song is taking
14) spend the next year on and off analyzing the song's structure and potential
15) move onto the next riff
16) repeat 1-15 with next riff, and subsequently every riff that follows that
17) eventually realize that something is lacking in my music and go on a 'spiritual quest' to find myself in my music, only to return a month later to 'the routine'


generally how it goes, every rare occasion a song writes itself, but a month later i end up hating it.


ive also heard quite often the key to success is to write for the lyrics, get a lyrical pattern in mind and a general structure then go from there. understanding every part thoroughly helps as well (bass, drums, keys, etc)


And this
#17
I think it varies from person to person, so just do what's comfortable.
You are like a hurricane
There's calm in your eye.
And I'm gettin' blown away
To somewhere safer
where the feeling stays.
I want to love you but
I'm getting blown away.
#18
I try to start with a riff. Just get something cool. From there, I try to determine some sort of tonal center. Then I'll set it aside and come up with something else. Do that a few times, string it together to make it sound cool.

From there, either lyrics or solos. This is really tough for me at this point. I can write lyrics in half an hour or half a year. I have notes on my computer that I haven't touched in ages. I like to get the main idea of the music down first so it can convey some emotion. Then it's a bit easier to write.

Solos, on the other hand, always take me forever. And, to be honest, it hasn't really clicked for me yet how to write a really good solo. I have come up with a few though, by pure chance. I really don't want to put in any shred when I write the solo, then add in some fast bits just to bring some color and energy to it. I want to write a "beautiful" solo first. A lot of the times I just leave it at that anyways.

That's how I do it, or more accurately, would like to do it. I've never actually completed a song.
Oh, well... I guess it's not easy writing 10 minute prog rock/metal songs.
#19
well my brother is our drummer, so we basically jam 24/7.

We'll invite bandmates over or go to their place and just jam for a bit. If you have a basic idea of what you want* then use that as base for the jam, then just see what happens and find something you like. I've found its difficult for myself, and apparently my bandmates to just sit around while other guys are doing cool stuff without jumping in. The big thing is not to be scared, jump in, if it sounds bad, try something else. If nothing is going well, play video games or go out and grab a bite, then try again. Of course, the driving force behind this idea is the hopes that everyone on the band has some original material to contribute, but if you've got creative guys, that will normally be the case.

Normally whatever we get from jamming becomes the verse, though I can see how maybe you could do a chorus out of it or something. Normally the intro will come from something an individual band member has been working on and really developed into something cool sounding. Then we figure out a chorus and bridge after brainstorming, and if we feel a solo is necessary, or would sound really good, it'll be me improv'ing, with certain guidelines and basic ideas. Like "ok, so in this spot I'm going to really hold a bended note for a while and then after a bit I'm going to do this, and then after a bit I'm gonna slide up and mess about in this area, then I'm gonna go back down and do this ending lick and then that'll be it"

*The way I get a basic idea of what I want is I keep a pencil around me normally, and I find that generally there's stuff you can write on. So when I have something going in my head which sounds awesome (which happens a pretty good deal) I try to write it down and develop it. One way I do this (I'm prolly an idiot) is I imagine myself playing a concert and just being a total badass doing cool ****, I normally imagine myself playing stuff that I've never heard in my life before, and I try to write it down. I'd say about 5% of the stuff I think of actually is developed, just cause its so hard to capture abstract thoughts like that. But its always worth trying.

Yup, so there's my advice, very broad and probably not at all helpful. You'll find I haven't talked at all about lyrical development. That's because I have absolutely no idea how to write lyrics and I'd prolly just make it more difficult for you by confusing you with my misconceptions. I would say write something that comes from the heart, but thats cheesy, so I'll tell you to write something that you think is a little clever, and that your mates tease you about, that seems like the key to a good 'heartfelt' song.
#20
I almost always come up with riffs after chords. Most of my songs don't have riffs anyway tho. Generally it goes like this

1. Idea or inspirational event
2. I think of a single lyric that I like, usually out of the blue, and write it down
3. Get my acoustic guitar and write chords that that fit the lyric
4. Write the whole song
5. Sit down at the piano and figure out riffs, bassline etc.
6. Over the next month or so, refine the song; drumbeats, solos, backing vocals etc.
#21
I either write down whats on my mind... or I'll be playing with different chords and find a progression I like and put what im thinking about to it....
Record it on a tape deck or phone make sure its sounds ok try it out at an open mic then record it properly / refine it..
#22
1. Chord progression for verse and chorus (and bridge ect.)
2. Play chords and sing whatever tune and words come into my head
3. Do number two a couple if time, settle on a tune then perfect lyrics
4. Add bassline, guitar parts
5. Add drums
#23
I generally write all of the instruments at once and record it as I write it so I know how all of the instruments sound togther. Usually spawns from an idea on either guitar, bass, or piano. I like writing all of the instruments together because a lot of times the parts will play off of each other and create interwoven melodies. After it is all written I export the drums and mix them, usually record bass next. Then if there is keyboards I record that, then guitar.