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Okay, lets kick off another topic.....

 

How do you all go about writing a song, what gives you the inspiration, is it a story in the news, a book, is it another piece of music? How do you turn that idea into a song, do you write the lyrics first, do you come up with a melody, do you tinker on guitar or piano? Or do you take inspiration from something like a drum beat or loop?

 

Lets discuss....

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Sometimes I start with the beat, sometimes start from strumming guitar, sometimes from playing piano chords, sometimes start by playing bass to a beat, sometimes start by finding/making usual sound in the DAW...  It's different each time. I probably go through phases of using one way, but it changes.

 

Words usually come from a combination of singing nearly-words (like not real words but the syllables...sounds) which I then listen back to and try to decide what it sounds like I'm saying, plus some words which come from that jam fully formed, plus then putting words down that I like the sound of and moving them around until they fit....and then sometimes if that seems to be telling a story I'll purposely write more to fit the way that's going... that's the usual... but occassionally I begin with an intention because something has inspired me or something is bugging me. I've never written a full lyric before music though. The words tend to come partly from what the music feels like to me, although I often find I'm repeating a feeling and re-using a few words.

 

I dunno... it's all over the place...but still kind of a system. It makes it a bit of a lucky dip...sometimes ends well, sometimes not.

 

 

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I've done lyrics first and music first. I prefer the music first, almost always based on a little guitar riff on my acoustic. Since for me music is a release and something I look to do for fun, I prefer the music first option by far. When I do lyrics first I feel somewhat restrained for some reason. I've had mixed results with this method but one of my more popular songs was done this way. 

 

With the music first I just let the music take me where it wants to go when playing. Some people find it exciting figuring out lyrics, some find it more exciting coming up with something musically. I like both but I get more enjoyment out of playing the guitar and finding a cool and different change musically. With the lyrics first method, I tend to write in a more structured "by the book" style. While it's a tried and true method that works, I have trouble giving the song an interesting change that people didn't see coming. I hum or freestyle lyrics to the music and a melody pops out. When I have the music, and then that vocal melody, and then lyrics form to it that work well it's like finishing a hard level on a video game. It's that moment when I get my "high" from songwriting. 

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It's interesting how so far everyone seems to like coming up with the music first, to give the inspiration.

 

Reading the replies, I am probably most like Dek - because I can't play the guitar, I tend to start with a beat, or I might have a musical idea and I play it on the piano. Although I've written a lot of songs based off of a lyric idea I've had (tend to come up with a lot of ideas at work for some reason) and try and decide how it should sound melody wise and that give me an indication of how the song should sound.

 

One thing I have done a lot though, is sing or hum into my phone app when something comes along that sounds not bad. The amount of ideas I've had like that would fill about 30 albums. Unfortunately I've not done anything with them, as I can't work out how to play them on the keyboard or play the drums how they should sound (I am terrible at trying to play a drum beat), so they just sit taking up room on my phones hard drive.

 

As a kind of follow on from this - where do you find you normally get a lot of inspiration? I tend to come up with really nice sounding upbeat songs when I'm in the shower, but forget them by the time I get out (especially the words). Another is during a sleep at night. Wake up with what is the best song ever written, but can't remember it seconds later!!!!

 

A few of my songs have started out as shower inspiration and a few lyrics have came from a sleep (music tends to be different by the time I do anything with them).

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In terms of tasks I can start from wherever the first idea comes from. It really depends on if I start on purpose, or by accident.

 

By accident, means I am doing something and an idea emerges. I could be playing an instrument, wandering around singing, tapping out a beat on my lap or arm of a chair, or mucking about with a sampler or beat in Sonar, or pondering some word or phrase that has prompted an idea that could spark an entire song.

 

However, very quickly I migrate to fill in the blanks between the result of the accident and the way I write as a purposeful act. In other word if creating an interesting beat sparks ideas, I take note of the beat and resulting ideas and then go into a purposeful process.

 

By purpose, there are three key components, that help unify the whole song:

 

  • The feeling
  • The idea or theme
  • The message

 

Really the evolution of these sets the foundation of the song. Knowing "I am writing a sad song with an element of hope, about love lost, where I am saying 'Don't give up, I can get through this'" helps frame everything that comes after. It increases my focus, the speed of work, the creation of, development of and acceptance of ideas. It also increases the chances of me completing the song.

 

Once I have those 3 I focus on finding the title and melodies in line with the theme/concept, message and emotion. That makes it sound very formal.... but in essence it just gives purpose and focus to my musical and lyrical foraging!

 

If I am writing a more electronica based piece I will almost certainly be in my studio. For electronica Songwriting and recording are integral. Quite frequently I start with the beat that goes with or suggests an emotion. I then set the beat looping and start writing a melody by singing along.

 

Taddah!

 

undoubtedly my process continues to evolve, partly shaped by gear, time, location and area of interest. Simple.

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I sometimes watch the dog.  If she stays on the couch and continues to sleep, I'll keep going.  But when she gets down and heads for the top of the stairs, which she does quite often, I'll have to put the guitar down.

 

For me it's almost always lyrics first.  I have a ton of material that still needs music.  There's almost no reason to pick up a guitar without having the words in front of me first.  Unless I just need to calm down.  Mindless noodling as an other than self focus helps me.  And a couple of times a song has come from it.

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2 hours ago, Richard Tracey said:

I tend to come up with really nice sounding upbeat songs when I'm in the shower, but forget them by the time I get out (especially the words). Another is during a sleep at night. Wake up with what is the best song ever written, but can't remember it seconds later!!!!

 

You should be kind of thankful that you forget those ideas... I mean it's gonna take you about 20 years to make songs out of all the ideas you did remember ;)  

 

Soz! ;)  

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Im like, McPark. Except, I rely on collaborations with lyricists. They supply me with their lyrics and I go through a few of them over and over until one of them evokes an emotional response from me and I use that emotion to form a melody. If the melody is not too meh then I continue working on the lyric, otherwise I scrap it and start the selecting process all over again.

 

When some of you guys talk about creating a melody and then forming words/vowels around that melody, I just cannot relate to that at all! lol

 

Nice topic, Richard.

 

Ken

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Given a melody I can probably write lyrics to it.

That said, without a melody first, most of the time the melody and flow come from the first point the words pop in my head.They have a certain sound I hear that develops as the rest of the words come.  A great tune???..often debatable and changed :) ..but that first tune seems to always be the way I associate the lyrics.

Can't remember writing a lyric without some type of musical feel.

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On 2/2/2017 at 3:46 PM, Just1L said:

I hum or freestyle lyrics to the music and a melody pops out. When I have the music, and then that vocal melody, and then lyrics form to it that work well it's like finishing a hard level on a video game. It's that moment when I get my "high" from songwriting. 

 

Nicely put! Wow I go all round the houses when I explain! ;) 

 

On 2/3/2017 at 1:09 PM, Richard Tracey said:

As a kind of follow on from this - where do you find you normally get a lot of inspiration? I tend to come up with really nice sounding upbeat songs when I'm in the shower

 

In terms of location/situation - I don't get melody or progression ideas anywhere other than where I'm making the music, and only come up with lyrics after that. I only think of musical ideas when I start playing something. Occasionally a melody will pop into my head somewhere else, once in a blue moon, and I've tried working from that but it always ended up crap so I don't even pay attention to such things anymore. 

 

In terms of what inspires an idea - Occasionally I've been inspired by people. e.g one time my brother had called me because he'd had some scary news but also had a very positive way and kind of spiritual way of dealing with it, the same evening I watched Graham Nash explain a guitar tuning they used to use, as soon as I'd heard him strum once with that tuning I paused the tv, retuned my guitar and wrote and recorded a song within an hour or two inspired by my brother's news and the new sound of the new tuning...the words came out almost complete from the first jam... turned out good I think...Sometimes inspiration does work, I gather some artists rely on those moments but personally I don't want to wait. 

 

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I am extremely rich so I bought a thousand monkeys and put them in a room with a thousand typewriters to write lyrics. Then I bought another thousand monkeys and put them in another room with a thousand guitars to write music. But for some reason that didn't work too well, so I had a thousand copies of Bert Weedon's 'Learn Virtuoso Guitar In Only Three Chords' book delivered to the room with the monkeys with the guitars. Then,not only being extremely rich but also blessed with infinite patience, I waited a while...quite a long while actually, but then realised that the monkeys with the typewriters and the monkeys with the guitars couldn't contact each other. So I bought another thousand monkeys, and trained them how to open doors,so they could move between the rooms of the monkeys with the typewriters and the monkeys with the guitars and match up the lyrics produced by the monkeys with the typewriters and the music produced by the monkeys with the guitars. That's how all the stuff on my Soundcloud site was written. Alistair McIntosh is just a stage name for 3000 monkeys. It turns out that somewhere along the way the monkeys wrote Adele's 'Chasing Pavements' before she did but no-one noticed because the lyrics got paired with a death metal riff and the melody with a rap song. If I'm honest, writing with monkeys doesn't work too well, they are much more interested in preening each other. I'll probably just go back to collaborating with McNaughton Park, he's much lower maintenance.

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2 hours ago, Alistair said:

Alistair McIntosh is just a stage name for 3000 monkeys.

 

:D

 

I had a go at this but all I got out of 'em was Shakespeare's bloody sonnets.

 

...and dont even think about gigging 'em. I have enough strife with the 7 monkeys in Blown Out.

 

Anyway, I though Jesus Martini was your stage name?

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21 hours ago, Rudi said:

 

:D

 

I had a go at this but all I got out of 'em was Shakespeare's bloody sonnets.

 

...and dont even think about gigging 'em. I have enough strife with the 7 monkeys in Blown Out.

 

Anyway, I though Jesus Martini was your stage name?

 

Rudi, you have an uncannily long and accurate memory. I must have told you that 10 years ago. You've probably got files on the CIA.

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4 hours ago, Alistair said:

 

Rudi, you have an uncannily long and accurate memory. I must have told you that 10 years ago. You've probably got files on the CIA.

 

4 hours ago, Alistair said:

It turns out it was nearly 13 years ago!!!!

 

 

I actually have a poor memory. Its the name that is memorable. Inspired in fact!

 

'Underwater Alf & The Bubbles' is the best I could manage.

 

 

no! It was in fact 'Unwise Bill & The Squawking Gentlemen'. 

The 'gentlemen' do their squawking during the closing bars of 'It Doesnt Matter What I Sing', except nobody's ever listened beyond the 2nd verse. 

 

I'll probably remember the 3,000 monkeys now too.

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