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TFCrowne

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TFCrowne last won the day on June 25 2014

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About TFCrowne

  • Birthday 01/21/1990

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  1. Hey Mike, Seriously great description! That's a perfect way to think about song structure. Love it. This was a fun exercise and quite the challenge because, as you said later on, it's a lot easier to "find a place where it doesn't do these things!" Another great point and effective way of saying so. This in particular is giving me a lot of clarity now when thinking about how I currently write as well as your bit about song structures or levels of a song. I currently spend too much time playing with 'micro-structure' when I'm still in a stage of 'macro-structure'. Saving experiments in variation, while writing (and recording as well), for later on in a song's development is such a great way to think about the process. It gives me a stronger sense of mental organization moving forward. This has a big motivation on how I write and how I make decisions about song structure (and many other things). I love the idea of simplicity myself and I know that many listeners expect it, but when really thinking hard about "what makes me enjoy one song over another?" I usually find the common denominator is the song that I like more tends to surprise me, and as a result gives me a feeling of excitement. But on the flip side the song also needs to offer me some level of comfort (so I don't run from 'fear of the unknown'), and does so by being predictable too. A good example of this in my writing would be You Can't Make Me Stay. The song is actually pretty simple and structured in more of an AABA format in my songwriting notebook. If I play it with just an acoustic guitar or a piano it's also very simple/singer-songwriter-ish. It's only when I got down to record the thing that I made quite a few different decisions on 'what goes where' and came up with a ton of instrumental melodies/variations to go along with it. My thinking was that I didn't want it to get boring and hoped to engage the listener (so they stick around all 2min 30sec) by 'mixing things up' and adding plenty of (hopefully) interesting and tasteful melodies.. I'm going to stop there because I could ramble forever about songwriting! And I suspect you don't need my examples of something you've already explained very well. Thanks again Mike -tfcrowne
  2. Thanks for checking some of them out Mike. I'm glad you said that! Whimsy and a bit carefree was what I was going for on that one. Despite the somewhat depressing or serious ballad-like lyrics (a juxtaposition I actually kind of like myself). One part of songwriting that I'm not an 'over-thinker' about is lyrics. You Can't Make Me Stay is a song I wrote about 2 years ago, and since then I've been putting more and more effort into my lyrics making sense and/or serving 'thematic points' while trying to be poetic at the same time. Lyric writing is my weakness as a songwriter, but I'm working to get better. I chuckled at that comment though! ...cause it's true. This is the point of this forum topic. I'm always worried that I'm throwing in too many different musical phrases, sections, or structure variations into one song. I think there needs to be a tasteful balance between keeping things simple but also complex enough to maintain interest and avoid boring people. In this song I pretty much have 4 distinct song sections (the chorus, the upbeat verse, the regretful/reflective pre-chorus, and then the bridge section before the final chorus), and then I also have a plethora of piano lines and fills going on. All packed into a song that's only 2 minutes and 30 seconds. So, I totally see your point about You Can't Make Me Stay being maybe a bit too much unpredictable or having too much going on to allow the listener to just soak-in or enjoy the essence of the song. Spot on and the reason that There And Back Again is on my list of songs that need rewrites. It's also a song I wrote a couple years back (around the same time of You Can't Make Me Stay), and a song I think has a lot more potential. Especially with the addition of a bridge section that can contrast and change tone from the rest of the song. The main issue is that the harmony of the verse and chorus are very similar, and I opted for a driving bass line that continues pounding the root and fifth despite chord changes (something I like and I gives the song a feeling that I wanted). Those factors ended up making the whole tune sound pretty one-themed. So, I guess this is the opposite problem from You Can't Make Me Stay. I remember being a little too excited and eager to record There And Back almost immediately after I had written it. This is probably a lesson in the value of letting any one song 'sit for a while' before you start laying down tracks. Won't argue with that. I'm definitely not a 'natural singer'. Like I said, the two songs you listened to happen to be the oldest songs on my Reverbnation page. Back then I was first actively learning how to sing (like with a professional vocal teacher), and for whatever reason thought that I should be singing an entire octave higher than my natural range. Not to mention I had zero clue what my 'home keys' were at the time. And I'm not attempting to defend anything with the singing, just saying I agree and those are probably the reasons why. I don't want to turn this thread into a song-critique topic but I'd be interested to hear your thoughts on my song called She Goes Out. It's not a finished product but I do have it posted on Reverbnation. She Goes Out is an example of how I'm trying to arrange a string section for a song. In that same vain, another tune you'll find called Days Go Bye features my synthesized version a full Brass Quintet. I was really pleased with how the horns turned out on that one even though I haven't finished the lyrics (you'll notice the same lyrics repeated through the whole song!). But anyways, those two songs fall into this past year in terms of my output, and they both are examples of what I consider complex (for me at least). Especially attempting to write and properly arrange the various parts of string quartet or brass section. It's also a lot of fun! But what you hear on record is probably not exactly the level of complexity that has me spending hours and hours on different parts and details of a song. What ends up recorded is usually one written part out of two of three other possibilities that I would write. Then, it's just a matter of deciding which part ends up in the song (which can take just as long sometimes). Thanks again for the feedback, thoughts and advice Mike. It's much appreciated and will be applied to future songwriting sessions. -tfcrowne
  3. Thanks for the added insight John. This post is going to be a great reference for me! Mike, thanks as well for the comments. I'm totally with you about loving a 'rich harmonic meal'. I'm a real sap for anything that's very layered, lush or just remotely romanticist. My songs are very much influenced by my love for that type of melodramatic music (melodramatic in the positive sense of the word). On the topic of enjoying my own work, I think that I tend to write what I want to hear so I'm usually fairly pleased with my finished songs. Of course there are always stinkers or problem-songs that take either a lot of headache to work out or just get lost in the back of the notebook. Also, I think my gold standard, and this probably goes for any artist, is to be able to go from what I hear in my head and translate that perfectly into some sort of recording. Needless to say, I've never achieved that but as long as I can get as close as possible I'm usually happy with it. If you're interested here is link to my Reverbnation profile: http://www.reverbnation.com/nickcrowne That's the only place on the web at the moment that I have any of my music. I really ought to work on making a Soundcloud account and getting more songs up.. Anyways, thanks for the advice guys. I intend to start actively catching myself during the writing process if I'm spending too much time on any little bass note or chord structure, as well as read up on some of my books (I think that was a great piece of advice for me John). -tfcrowne
  4. Thanks so much for the well written and well informed reply John! On the topic of catering the harmony to the melody: I actually think this is where I started getting too fixated. I think that when I realized that awesome relationship between melody and harmony (as you explained perfectly), I just started getting carried away with all the possibilities and combinations that can be written for any one phrase . What I'll do is get the basic 'ghost version' (the part that just starts up in your head) of a song going and then I start working it out. Once I've got the simple version pretty well established I start exploring alternatives in every little note and corresponding harmony. That's where I'm spending (and possibly wasting) a lot of time. But I think the answer to this issue was in the top part of your response about an 'informal writing process'. This is spot on. I own a couple of common books about songwriting (one is the popular one by John Braheny I think), but I've only ever skimmed through them when I first started writing. In other words, I follow no formal process. I just start a song and go. I suppose I have my own subconscious process.. The point is, I think you're totally right. I need to familiarize myself with some proven structure. Like any creative writer would in that medium. If you have a moment to, feel free to expand on the 'phases' you mentioned. In the meantime I'll do my own research and probably dig those books out from the shelf. Some more structure is a great suggestion. Much appreciated! -tfcrowne
  5. Hey songwriters, So, I've posted a good deal over in the 'critique section' over the years but I've never actually reached out about composing theory and techniques in this section before. Hope to get some good answers on this one! For those interested here's a brief background of me, the composer - Have been writing songs (lyrics + music) for about 6 years now, and over that period of time I've managed to write somewhere in the range of 150 mostly completed tunes, and roughly 30-40 of those songs I've made some sort of demos for. My songwriting style/genre would very likely fall under the old singer/songwriter category, and most tunes are written on either a piano, guitar or a ukulele. So, there is my 'profile'. My Songwriting Problem: After writing 150 songs or so over the last 6 years I ended up learning a good bit about music theory, songwriting techniques and just general music related stuff. In the last year, this amount of knowledge I've stored up has created a problem for me. When writing a new song I now tend to go 'FULL BLAST' when coming up with the melody and harmony for said song. In other words, at some point I began going from more simple/common chords (stuff like Major/Minor/7th/Minor7th/sus4/etc) to using really complex harmony that involves lots of 'slash chords', diminished, augmented, Minor6add9, 13 chords, 7thsus4, 7thsus2, and the list goes on to include some harmonic structures that I can't even name of the top of my head. This process, of using a wider vocabulary of chords when writing, has led me to spending large amounts of time on deciding WHAT chords I want to USE. And I mean A LOT of time! I think it's because I realized how different chords can often be used in a spot where another chord could also be used (due to different types of chords having a very similar but slightly different structure). So, I end up sitting around on each chord change 'trying out' the different possibilities. This in of itself is fun for me, but my productivity level and actual song output has suffered greatly. What's worse is that I don't feel like I've really explored the possibilities, and finished the song, if I don't engage in this type of writing. Not to mention the fact that actually choosing what chord I'll end up using can take me a long time. I can just see and tell that this type of writing process is wasteful and often times totally unnecessary. I mean, who really cares if the friggin' chord is a Cmajor, Am7, or C/D when you're in the middle of song section?? (maybe a really careful listener with a solid music background would mind..hmm) And YES, those choices DO matter because the chords create a different feeling, regardless of similar or same notes..but I.......................... ^^^ right there, a perfect example of my thought process when writing.. The other big issue, which this thread was titled after, is that I end up with songs that can come off or feel extremely 'bloated' to me. It's like by spending so much time making the entire thing really complex, the result becomes a song that seems a little 'off-putting' due to the amount of complexity. I just know that, in most cases, my songs would be just fine (if not better!) if I would sit back, take a deep breath, and not spend so much time and effort 'wearing them out' as I'm writing them. Hope this long ramble about my 'songwriting problems' makes sense to you guys. Now, my actual questions My Songwriting Questions: *First of all, does anyone here experience this or are able to empathize with the situation? *Second, what do you guys do when you feel you are getting too complex while writing a song? When you can feel that you might possibly be ruining 'the magic' by running a song it into the ground? *And lastly, for those of you who have experienced this, do you find that you eventually develop an instinct for your choice of chords (allowing you to ignore the process of trying out every single alternative) while writing? Time to end this longggggg question-post by saying: Thanks so much to anyone who is able to offer some advice, insight or tips about the topic. Much appreciated! -tfcrowne
  6. Hi, I'm not a natural singer but have been working hard at improving my vocals. Can I get some feedback on my singing or a critique. Thanks! http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=CdK85fnYXTE
  7. Hiya, just posting my introduction. I'm a singer/songwriter/artist/musician/crazy person. I'm just looking to see what others are up to with songwriting and hope to get some opinions on my own music as well. Thanks
  8. Welcome to the forums TFCrowne :)

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