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The Chicken Or The Egg

snabbu

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Now the following applies to songs that contain some element of narrative. A lot of song writing techniques are genre specific. So for songs with no story this would be less applicable. But even so, still I think of some help.

Now what this is about is, what to write first in the writing process. When you are writing there is a hell of lot to think about at once. Rhyme, meter, story, flow, Prosody, making the chorus work with all the verses, making the bridge work. This can do your head in. And your chances of getting it right are much diminished, if you try to do everything at once.

This is my opinion and while I will give good reasons for writing like this what you do is up to you. It is a matter of personal choice. But this may save you a bit of heartache, or headache.

Write the chorus first.

Why?

Because each verse should support the chorus, give it more weight, and each verse must move into the chorus, making sense. If the chorus idea is in your head, unwritten, you have to think about the chorus as you write the verses. This is an unnecessary waste of brain power. If your song idea can not be summed up in a great chorus with a good hook, don't waste energy writing the song, or at least not in verse chorus form because it's a waste of time. Maybe it needs to be in AA form with no chorus. If you have written and honed the chorus, creating hook emphasis, and a catchy rhythm, it may generate ideas for the verses. Also having a completed polished honed chorus done and dusted you can stop thinking about it, which means all your concentration can go to writing other parts of the song. That may just make for a better lyric.

Write the bridge second

Why?

Usually the best place to put the why of the song or the pay off is in the bridge. Because if you put it anywhere else it's too early in the song and the interest is not held till the end. The why of the song is the main song idea as opposed to the song hook which is in the chorus. Why are you telling me this, why has this happened etc. sometimes this is a reveal of what the song is actually about. Sometimes called the pay off. The function of the bridge is to get you from chorus two to chorus three. At the same time revealing some extra information about the story. As I say normally the why of the song. So it follows if you think about it you can't write the bridge until you have written the chorus or you are writing a bridge from nowhere to nowhere.

Write the verses last.

Now knowing what the reveal or the pay off is in the bridge and knowing what the summing up or answer to the question is in the chorus, you can now write the verses. Making sure every image in the verses sets up and supports either the chorus and/or the bridge. You can't do this if you don't know what's in them.

So in summary write in this order. Chorus, Bridge, Verses.

It is a lot less work and that has got to be a good thing.

Cheers

Gary


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Although most of my lyrics are started with the chorus (which I agree with you on) some of them started with the verse because of a sudden inspiration. A killer line or whole verse just is BAM, there. And what I have found when that happens, is that I have to work a lot harder on the rest of the lyric. It's like penning a book and not knowing what it going to be about after the first chapter. Not only is it best to start with the chorus, it's best to know how the lyric or story is going to end before you start writing it (IMO).....Good blog post Gary.

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I find these days I don't even start until I have a hook. The hook may change, but it's always my starting point these days.

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Yes James you can not stop that happening. But when it does it is so hard to write the rest because it's got to sit alongside the killer inspirational lines. So sometimes you get uneven quality in the verses. And issues getting in and out of the chorus. But there is nothing you can do about that because it just happens. But to write like that deliberately is making life hard. I actually don't even write the chorus until I have written a plan of the song and I should really have done a post about that before the writing order. Because you know whether a songs going to work or not before you start writing it. Some ideas just don't work so that is a time saver.

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The easiest songs I ever wrote were from the hook. Because it is almost like doing no work at all, if you have a hook running around in your head for a week while your driving around or whatever. When you actually sit down to write the words just seem to come straight out of your mouth. I guess Kel out of your sub conscious mind where they have been brewing for a week or so. Cheers Gary

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Hello Gary
 
Thats for a very interesting subject!! I like your blogs a lot Gary :) Refrain is indeed a important part of the song, refrain needs to be interesting and catchy for the listener, and is indeed most important in the end of the day.
 
But as from songwriter view though (speaking for myself and how I work),  I feel the refrain is the part of the song that should support the verse both melodically and lyrically..and reflect the verses and the story I have put into the verses. So in other words, the verses for me is vital to have nailed to have a framework to work from to develope refrain and bridge and other things...
First of all I need to figure out a good opening lyrically to introduce the listener to the story I am taking them into. The verse is challenging because this is first impression and should be the part that build up the song to a climax (refrain)
 
When I make the verses, and I am very happy with them,. the refrain sometimes appear out of nowhere for me.. and lyrically I use more simple lyrics that I repeat or maybe I just use fewer words (so is easier for the listener to get the lyrics stuck in their head..) Melodically I also find it easier to make hookes and catchy melody in refrain, when I have the verse: Because then I am so used to the verses I made so is easier to find a melody that makes sense right after the verses. I get inspired from the verses you could say :) and is easier for me to be creative, if I have some basics (verses) to work out from.
 
The bridge is the last thing I work on, because sometimes is nesseary in a song, sometimes not.  I really need to hear the two main parts (verse and refrain) together, to hear if is needed or not..
Sometimes I use refrain or verse as a bridge, but just do some twists around a chord or just strip it downs for instruments.
 
The outro and intro could be either elements from verse,m refrain or bridge. Depends.. I go with my gutfeeling here :D
 
With that said: Sometimes a melody is coming to me out of nowhere and that can be the a obvious refrain with lyrics.. so then I write refrain first. But then I find myself work harder on the verses.
 
 
Probably very individullay how people work I suppose.
 
So I guess in the end of the day it varies a lot for me,
 
 
Thanks for interesting subject Gary! I liked it.
 
(sorry bad grammar)
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Hello Gary   Thats for a very interesting subject!! I like your blogs a lot Gary :) Refrain is indeed a important part of the song, refrain needs to be interesting and catchy for the listener, and is indeed most important in the end of the day.   But as from songwriter view though (speaking for myself and how I work),  I feel the refrain is the part of the song that should support the verse both melodically and lyrically..and reflect the verses and the story I have put into the verses. So in other words, the verses for me is vital to have nailed to have a framework to work from to develope refrain and bridge and other things... First of all I need to figure out a good opening lyrically to introduce the listener to the story I am taking them into. The verse is challenging because this is first impression and should be the part that build up the song to a climax (refrain)   When I make the verses, and I am very happy with them,. the refrain sometimes appear out of nowhere for me.. and lyrically I use more simple lyrics that I repeat or maybe I just use fewer words (so is easier for the listener to get the lyrics stuck in their head..) Melodically I also find it easier to make hookes and catchy melody in refrain, when I have the verse: Because then I am so used to the verses I made so is easier to find a melody that makes sense right after the verses. I get inspired from the verses you could say :) and is easier for me to be creative, if I have some basics (verses) to work out from.   The bridge is the last thing I work on, because sometimes is nesseary in a song, sometimes not.  I really need to hear the two main parts (verse and refrain) together, to hear if is needed or not.. Sometimes I use refrain or verse as a bridge, but just do some twists around a chord or just strip it downs for instruments.   The outro and intro could be either elements from verse,m refrain or bridge. Depends.. I go with my gutfeeling here :D   With that said: Sometimes a melody is coming to me out of nowhere and that can be the a obvious refrain with lyrics.. so then I write refrain first. But then I find myself work harder on the verses.     Probably very individullay how people work I suppose.   So I guess in the end of the day it varies a lot for me,     Thanks for interesting subject Gary! I liked it.   (sorry bad grammar)
Hi If you are talking about the set up which I think you are. It is very important say in country story telling songs. You can't say either which is the most important part of a song like that because they are all interdependent. And to a large degree this post is about unplanned writing. If the writing is planned that is you have the beginning middle and end of the story written down then you know where you are going with it before you start writing the actual song. In that case I think you can write in what ever order you want. I have the feeling that armature song writers would hate the concept of planned writing because it becomes more like work rather than play. But it is quite efficient, working writers have to produce songs when they have no inspiration because the song is due Monday for a session. And it just has to be done. So that is totally different than writing when the inspiration hits you. It is impossible to tell with a writer like Lennon for example which songs are jobs of work and which ones came from inspiration. Yet 50 percent of his Beatle stuff was written as jobs of work. Because McCartney drove the album making process to a large extent so when he had eight songs or so they would start to record. Lennon would usually only have three or four and would have to sit down and write four more for the sessions. And even when you know which ones they are there is no difference in the quality of the writing. So it sounds to me like you are writing to a plan of some sort and if you are doing that then it's more like a professional approach. And because you know what is going to happen in the song, you can write whatever bit you like first. And alter what happens to suite. I do find planned writing very efficient because if I can't get the development and the conclusion of the story to work in story board form I can move on to another idea without wasting time writing something that isn't going to work. But I have to say it is more like work than play when I do that. Cheers Gary

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ahh Ok Gary!

Well it made more sense then.

I  wrote from my point of view :)! I work a little different than people who have deadlines and such. I am in no hurry and wait for the inspiration and story to hit me :)

 

Anyway good blog! and thanks for clarify!

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Hey Gary,

 

As you probably know from reading a lot of my lyrics that I am an inspirational writer with no deadlines.  In fact I have a stack of about 10 or 12 unfinished lyrics at any given time sitting on my desk.  I do understand and have had to use the planed writing system, ie: outline and so forth when writing my two manuscripts.  Not so much on the first.  That really kind of hit me out of the blue but in a way was already set up in my head because I based it on my own life and experiences.

 

I guess I could also consider myself very fortunate because I usually have a pretty steady flow of inspiration for lyrics.  Probably because I had such a f'd up life for so long when I was younger. lol 

 

Anyway, I'm really glad you started this thread and I know I'll always take something good away from any of your posts!!

 

All the best,

Bryan

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