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How Much Do You Need To Know About Music To Write A Song?


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  • Noob

Hi - I'm a professional musician/pianist/composer/arranger. I've had many years experience in just about all forms of music; live shows, TV, Broadway, jingles, films, CDs, etc. One thing I've noticed is that newer members of the song writing community seem to lack some of the basic skills of music, especially in simple notation. Many come up with a really good song idea, lyric, or musical phrase or hook, but they can't get it down on paper. I've made (and am still making) fairly good money "translating" these ideas into the written form of music, allowing others to enjoy this creative work. But I've also noticed a lack of real creative works. It seems that many song writers (and please understand I'm not speaking of all song writers), learn 3 chords on the piano/keyboard/guitar, and feel that's their great composition. Yes, I majored in music theory in college, but I know there are books available that can easily instruct everyone in the basic theory of music; melody, harmony, and rhythm. From experience, I know the more you know and understand about the medium in which you're creating, the better the creation, leading to a better artistic commercial goal. I must stress that the above observation is totally my own point of view. I'd like to hear back (and learn) from others on this topic. Keep writing, listening and learning...

Bo Ayars

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Hi,

I notate as little as humanly possible. Generally I'll rough sketch my progressions in band in a box then open it up in real band. Replace the drum kit with some suitable vsti then slowly work through each part. I have a thing about not wanting to be steered by the biab "style" to much as it can affect my initial melodic and rhythmic ideas. When I'm recording I'm scoring as I'm recording to midi. If I need to hand off part work I can give someone a very clear framework.

I don't do vocals and I don't do lyrics. The one thing I wish I had in real band is the ability to put simple markers such as verse chorus. So when I do hand off to a vocalist they can follow the highlighted chord view and know where to come in.

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Hi, Bo:

I'm curious - not judgmental - merely curious. Why did you think you posted this? Surely, you're not threatened by the hacks, and apparently, some of them feed your bottom line. So, why does their lack of talent/skill and/or their ignorance of their lack of talent/skill bother you, for clearly, it does bother you. And, why publicly express that it bothers you in an online forum for songwriters? Talk to me, Bo. I'm listening.

:)

David

As your intro, at that...

All the same, welcome Bo!

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"From experience, I know the more you know and understand about the medium in which you're creating, the better the creation, leading to a better artistic commercial goal."

From experience the words artistic and commercial should never be used in the same sentence.

Hi Bo.

I'm a complete amateur songwriter. I've never made a penny from what I do. I don't read or write music nor have I been to any sort of music "school" or read any books on the subject.

I do however enjoy being part of songwriting communities such as these and offer my ears and limited knowledge in the hopes that I can be of some help - if only to offer encouragement to fellow music makers because we share a passion and a joy of the creative process which is expressed through songwriting.

When I walk into a room full of strangers I'm likely to smile and say hello, not drop my pants and moon the crowd.

It's likely to get a better reaction, I've found...from experience.

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  • Noob

Thanks for the replies. IMHO, one doesn't have to be a musician to create music. I know several very successful writers with limited or music knowledge. My goal in my intro was to simply share a musical curiosity about the level of musical ability of songwriters. I've worked with several extremely talented and dedicate writers who, in their own words, didn't know anything about the theory of music, but had tremendous creative skills. So, that's what I feel about song writers knowing music. My post was to see what others had to say.

RE: "Creative Arts and Commercialism" - To me, true art, be it music, painting, glass blowing, or needlepoint, is a means of self expression. When an artist wishes others to expose others to their craft by means of payment or barter, to me, that is commercialism. It's an ugly word, I agree, but it's reality. I really admire a friend of mine who works in the corporate world but enjoys creating very nice works of art. He has no desire to "commercialize them", other than people enjoying them at his home. On the other hand, people pay me for my musical experience. In turn, I pay other musicians, studios, CD manufactures, etc., for their experience. But I totally agree that much of true art is lost by those who feel they must create art that will sell (or others will like), rather than just simply expressing themselves in their medium. I'm guilty of that; putting in a chord progression or melodic line that will sell rather than one I artistically feel.

I really do enjoy the dialog. That's what this place is all about; sharing ideas, concepts, experiences. Thanks in advance...

Bo

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