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LooknGlass

Starting With A Title

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LooknGlass    379

I just got to wondering, how many of you all start with the title of the song and work from there? I kinda realized most of the stuff I came up with lately, started with the title. Was curious if anybody else did that a lot.

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McnaughtonPark    695

I do, but for a different reason.  My titles come from the hook.  I am always looking for new hooks, and I pretty much use that as my title.  

 

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Rudi    587

Sometimes. Not often.

 

'Nietzsche's Yard' was one.

It came with a line too though. "you didnt think what you thought you thunk down in Nietzsche's Yard".

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Just1L    949

Not intentionally. I never think of a title until I'm well into the song.

Theme: Yes

Title: No

I've never even given that a thought early on, but maybe I should.

 

This leads me to a few questions for you, since you've been doing that recently. 

1. Is it easier?

2. How are these particular songs received from others when reading? Better/Worse/No Difference

3. How do you feel they are when stacked up against your better songs? Better/Worse - Easier to write/Harder to write

 

I can see this being used to help get out of a rut or force your way out of writers block. Not sure though. It almost seems like it would be more for a songwriting class or exercise. Good topic IMO.

Edited by Just1L
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tunesmithth    1,272

2 songs come to mind, although there are probably more.

  • "Too Small To Save" - 

  • "Not-For-Profit Life" - 
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tunesmithth    1,272

A 3rd example came to mind....figured I'd add it in here.

I included the article links because all 3 specifically mention that the title "the" starting point, or one of several.

 

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LooknGlass    379
1 hour ago, Just1L said:

Not intentionally. I never think of a title until I'm well into the song.

Theme: Yes

Title: No

I've never even given that a thought early on, but maybe I should.

 

This leads me to a few questions for you, since you've been doing that recently. 

1. Is it easier?

2. How are these particular songs received from others when reading? Better/Worse/No Difference

3. How do you feel they are when stacked up against your better songs? Better/Worse - Easier to write/Harder to write

 

I can see this being used to help get out of a rut or force your way out of writers block. Not sure though. It almost seems like it would be more for a songwriting class or exercise. Good topic IMO.

 

Well my friend, I will answer best I can.

 

1. Is it easier?

This is a yes and no answer for me. On the one hand, when I really like a title I came up with, I mean Really like, I almost always get a burst of inspiration. "Orwellian Fools", "Quarter To Love, Half Past Due", and "Topsy Turvy" are just some examples of lyrics I started with the title. These (along with some others) were easy for me to write because I really dug the titles. On the other hand, others were much more difficult. I liked the titles, but getting a story out of them was tougher, and actually I knew they would be. I do a lot of writing exercises, and as a way of getting my creative juices flowing, I will randomly pick a word in the dictionary or on a web page, or a phrase I heard somewhere and sit down and write till I have a lyric done with that title. There are times when I do this that they come easy and I actually get some good ones (that's subjective though), but mostly they are pretty challenging and take much longer to write. So I think sometimes it is easier, but other times it's easier to write around a theme, verse or chorus that came to me. Overall it's a mood kind of thing I guess.

 

2. How are these particular songs received from others when reading? Better/Worse/No Difference?

I myself haven't noticed or taken note if it makes a difference in reception when I come up with a title first. I do know though, that the easier and faster a lyric comes out, the better reception I seem to get than the ones I had to really think on. (with exceptions) Maybe because I over think it, I'm not sure.

 

3. How do you feel they are when stacked up against your better songs? Better/Worse - Easier to write/Harder to write?

For the most part they are kinda the same when stacked against each other, yet if I were to compare the ones I started with a title, against say; my lyric "Little Wood Box" which took a lot of thought and consideration, it would be worse. It depends really, and I have no set answer. I will say that the more I practice starting with a cool title, the better I get at it (in my opinion) and the more I challenge myself to do it.

 

Good questions, but kinda hard to answer....am I getting graded? :)

Edited by LooknGlass
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LooknGlass    379
1 hour ago, tunesmithth said:

A 3rd example came to mind....figured I'd add it in here.

I included the article links because all 3 specifically mention that the title "the" starting point, or one of several.

 

Thanks for this!!

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Just1L    949
8 minutes ago, LooknGlass said:

 

Well my friend, I will answer best I can.

 

1. Is it easier?

This is a yes and no answer for me. On the one hand, when I really like a title I came up with, I mean Really like, I almost always get a burst of inspiration. "Orwellian Fools", "Quarter To Love, Half Past Due", and "Topsy Turvy" are just some examples of lyrics I started with the title. These (along with some others) were easy for me to write because I really dug the titles. On the other hand, others were much more difficult. I liked the titles, but getting a story out of them was tougher, and actually I knew they would be. I do a lot of writing exercises, and as a way of getting my creative juices flowing, I will randomly pick a word in the dictionary or on a web page, or a phrase I heard somewhere and sit down and write till I have a lyric done with that title. There are times when I do this that they come easy and I actually get some good ones (that's subjective though), but mostly they are pretty challenging and take much longer to write. So I think sometimes it is easier, but other times it's easier to write around a theme, verse or chorus that came to me. Overall it's a mood kind of thing I guess.

 

2. How are these particular songs received from others when reading? Better/Worse/No Difference?

I myself haven't noticed or taken note if it makes a difference in reception when I come up with a title first. I do know though, that the easier and faster a lyric comes out, the better reception I seem to get than the ones I had to really think on. (with exceptions) Maybe because I over think it, I'm not sure.

 

3. How do you feel they are when stacked up against your better songs? Better/Worse - Easier to write/Harder to write?

For the most part they are kinda the same when stacked against each other, yet if I were to compare the ones I started with a title, against say; my lyric "Little Wood Box" which took a lot of thought and consideration, it would be worse. It depends really, and I have no set answer. I will say that the more I practice starting with a cool title, the better I get at it (in my opinion) and the more I challenge myself to do it.

 

Good questions, but kinda hard to answer....am I getting graded? :)

 

LOL No Grade. But you are being watched! :ph34r:

 

Thanks for taking the time to answer. I guess mainly I was wondering if it tended to make a noticeable difference when starting with the title. But it appears it's kind of like any other method of songwriting, sometimes it works great, sometimes just okay. I do say it's an interesting take. For me, I never really thought I considered the title at all in the early stages. But I have come up with hooks that would make good titles, so I guess without thinking, I actually have. :)  

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LooknGlass    379
4 hours ago, Rudi said:

"you didnt think what you thought you thunk down in Nietzsche's Yard".

Now that's a cool line!

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LooknGlass    379
18 hours ago, Just1L said:

LOL No Grade. But you are being watched!

.....you're freakin me out man. :blink::D

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Rudi    587
21 hours ago, Just1L said:

 

This leads me to a few questions for you, since you've been doing that recently. 

 

1. Is it easier? No. Still have to write the thing.

2. How are these particular songs received from others when reading? I cant remember but I doubt it makes any difference.

3. How do you feel they are when stacked up against your better songs? Just the same on average. The only easy ones are those that come quickly.

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Just1L    949
3 minutes ago, Rudi said:

3. How do you feel they are when stacked up against your better songs? Just the same on average. The only easy ones are those that come quickly.

 

So true and I also find it a little odd that normally, the writes that come quick and easy are some of my better ones. Go figure. :wacko:

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McnaughtonPark    695
30 minutes ago, Just1L said:

 

So true and I also find it a little odd that normally, the writes that come quick and easy are some of my better ones. Go figure. :wacko:

I hate you.  I'm still editing lyrics from 7-8 years ago.

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Just1L    949
12 minutes ago, McnaughtonPark said:

I hate you.  I'm still editing lyrics from 7-8 years ago.

 

Hate is such a strong word. LOL I've read plenty of your lyrics and I'm pretty sure there are quite a few that are finished, better than a lot of lyrics out there, that you're still going in to tweak. Cuz that's what you do and what you like to do. :) You're a harsh critic on yourself. Plus, 98.9% of my lyrics don't come easy and most all my lyrics could probably still use a tweak here or there. It's really hard for me to go back and work on a song though once I've got it sounding how I want it. But I do take notes of others comments so if that fantasy-laden day comes where I would actually need to do anything with them, I'd make the changes then. And lastly "hateful" Tom, you're lyrics are much, much deeper than mine and probably do take longer to write. So there! Take that!

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McnaughtonPark    695
9 minutes ago, Just1L said:

 

Hate is such a strong word. LOL I've read plenty of your lyrics and I'm pretty sure there are quite a few that are finished, better than a lot of lyrics out there, that you're still going in to tweak. Cuz that's what you do and what you like to do. :) You're a harsh critic on yourself. Plus, 98.9% of my lyrics don't come easy and most all my lyrics could probably still use a tweak here or there. It's really hard for me to go back and work on a song though once I've got it sounding how I want it. But I do take notes of others comments so if that fantasy-laden day comes where I would actually need to do anything with them, I'd make the changes then. And lastly "hateful" Tom, you're lyrics are much, much deeper than mine and probably do take longer to write. So there! Take that!

Well, it just so happens, Mr. smarty pants, I really like your lyrics but maybe I wouldn't have had I known they were so damn easy to write! (emo do-dad)

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McnaughtonPark    695

I know what you mean tho'.  It's much harder to edit them after they get into song form.  I have had some that were written quickly that I was happy with, and over time, I stopped writing with as many words, so I go back and clean up the extra words but leave the overall lyric as is.

 

I know that in some of John's lyric challenges, the title was given, or closely given, and in those lyrics I did start with the title.

 

In my unprofessional opinion, I don't believe lyrics are poems, or canvas art, or novels where you pick out an obscure line or idea from the text or painting and try to sell it with that as the title.  Lyrics are words to songs, and since we can sing them whether they are playing at the time or not, the title should be the most memorable part, or the part that connects the audience with the song.  Hence, thereby, forever who art thou, I play up to the hook.  If you're going to sing it with the radio, I want you to be able to remember the title at the store, or in front of the juke box.  

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Just1L    949
39 minutes ago, McnaughtonPark said:

Well, it just so happens, Mr. smarty pants, I really like your lyrics but maybe I wouldn't have had I known they were so damn easy to write! (emo do-dad)

 

NO!!!! Only 2 out of about 30 came easily. :) 

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Just1L    949
19 minutes ago, McnaughtonPark said:

 It's much harder to edit them after they get into song form.

 

I think it's because my mind has trouble wanting to change the melody of the lyrics that I've already heard and become used to. If the melody remains exactly the same, it's easy. The problem I have is when someone recommends an actually better line or lyric, but it would require a tweak in melody, cadence, syllables, etc… and I've already heard and liked the original version. I think it's one of those hills a songwriter must overcome. The world hasn't heard the song, they haven't heard the original way it was done, so it's no skin off their nose and they're none-the-wiser … it's only me, knowing what I know and not wanting to change what I'd already done. I guess which leads to it being the fact that even though I thought I did my best, technically it wasn't good enough.

 

Geesh Doc, where do I put my 5 cents??? :lol:

5cp-logo.png

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McnaughtonPark    695

We are getting close to coming around full circle here.  Starting with the melody is best I think.  :eusa_think:

camera pic 1010.jpg

Edited by McnaughtonPark
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Just1L    949

Love it Tom. And handwritten no less. It is interesting that my favorite song from you is Time Was Only Joking. But, I say song, not lyric. Second would be Paper Doll Girl. Still have my own melodic version of that go through my head from time to time. I've come to realize though that it's a combo of your lyrics and the Beatles song "Don't Pass Me By". 

 

Paper Doll

Oh Paper Doll

Paper Doll Girl

Your face was cut from the pages of Desiderata

 

You took everything

              (you took everything)

That you ever learned

             (that you ever learned)

Learned in the name of our father ahhhh!

 

From what I remember of the lyrics anyways. :)

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McnaughtonPark    695

I like your version of paper doll.  I was just messing around with that again on the acoustic last night.  Wish I could pick better.

 

I absolutely hate to admit it, but Time Was Only Joking was a quick write.  It also isn't a story-line type lyric, at least i couldn't put the verses in chronological order, and I'll be damned if I know how the refrain ties in with the rest of the lyric, but it seemed to work. It was written in the same book as above but has hardly any lines through the lyric.  I strummed the first do-do, da-do on the guitar, sang "caught between", put down the guitar and went and wrote the lyric and recorded a rough of it that night.  I don't remember if that's the version I posted.

 

I like all your stuff, and maybe it's a toss up between a few of the songs, I'd have to say Watershed is my favorite, and D.O.G is up there too.  But they are all good.

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On 1/26/2016 at 5:13 PM, LooknGlass said:

I just got to wondering, how many of you all start with the title of the song and work from there? I kinda realized most of the stuff I came up with lately, started with the title. Was curious if anybody else did that a lot.

This is a great way to start. We keep an apple note ongoing full of different song title ideas for different styles, so then you have something to bring into a session. A cool idea is to have a list of titles that don't mean what the listener expects them to mean... :) Writing in twists...

 

www.fullcirclemusic.org

 

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LooknGlass    379

You're right FullCircle. I try to throw peeps off with the title when I can.
 I have a song called "You Make Me Sick" in the Promo section that goes in a direction peeps don't expect.

 

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There's a terrific homespun songwriting site called *spamming website* where they supply you with a title and you have about ten days to record a song with that title, then everyone posts their songs and everyone gets to vote on their favorite. It's been around non-stop for 15 YEARS! So anyone who participates in Song Fight by default always has a title first!

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tomcollins    522

I've done two titles first.both flopped!!.

Like the thought of it and makes sense but...not for me !!! 

If title has the hook may work better but being an emotional writer and living in that moment is how they come out.and if they take more then 30 min they tend to fizzle away.also really suck at editing or re writes.tho try to now at least give a lyric some life by putting a melody to it before I take it out back for target practice!!!

Funny we moved to kiawah ( island off Carolina coast) and after being on the road for over two years. I have nothing to write about.lol no chaos no lyrics.lines and melodies come to mind but leave as quick. Maybe being an aged toys r us kid has something to do with it ??

So writing from a title would be an awesome thing but feel it will always elude me ...  But worth a shot .lol 

Rock on 

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gradual    6

Almost always. That just happens to be what works for me. It takes off the pressure of having to come up with a subject to write about. My life really isn't all that interesting...lol...but a cool title can almost always conjure up some type of story or scenario if I think about it enough, and it's interesting to imagine the possibilities, musically and lyrically. I like figuring out ways of turning it into the hook, and you can get really creative. For a while I was actually collecting lots of pontential titles by opening books to random pages and writing down phrases I found. It's a fun exercise. I save them in a computer file, which is still my go-to source when I need an idea. I think I'm actually starting to get to the point where I've used most of the phrases that strike my fancy, and it may soon be time for a restock.

Edited by gradual

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Giora Tal    5

I usually start with the melody just to get the structure of the singing with the music.

Then the title is taken from the chorus once its written.

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I do this often.
I have a text file with hundreds upon hundreds of titles. From time to time, i'll flick through the list and see if anything feels relevant.
A simple title can be a simple catalyst.

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