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Melody and lyrics written to existing music.


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I've gotten so that I really like writing to already existing melodies.  I've discovered that listening to the music and getting a feel for it gives me ideas out of nowhere.  I'm not so great at music theory so that sort of method for writing eludes me.  As the song progresses, I find the words and syllables that fit the sound I'm hearing.  Not sure if that's how others do it, but I do.  Occasionally, I can find the repeats and I might start with a chorus and work from the chorus to the beginning, then pick up and go the other way after the chorus.  Writing to existing songs take a little longer for me than straight lyrics.  Incredibly fascinating to me though, how the end product turns out.  What I usually run into though is a little hump I have to plow through.  Sometimes, a different note or direction is what I'm expecting and it throws a monkey wrench into the vocal melody I envision for it.  I usually figure a way over it, but I have to amend my really (maybe) great idea.  Thing is, I most always like it, but it delays the finished product a bit and writing time is precious.  Does anyone use any tried and true strategies to speed this process up?

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I've started with lyrics and ended with lyrics. From what I've heard and read, Black Sabbath records the music and then Ozzy would go in and do his vocals. So, it seems like you two might work the same way. 

 

In the end, whatever gets the job done. I will say, if you have a great idea and it means changing the music to bring your idea to life, you might want to try that. I've recorded songs where I thought the music was perfect, then I'd one little thing, and come up with a different idea. Since I record in my basement, starting over is just time, and if you live to be 70 that's a lot of recording... rerecording...

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6 hours ago, Pahchisme Plaid said:

I've gotten so that I really like writing to already existing melodies.  I've discovered that listening to the music and getting a feel for it gives me ideas out of nowhere.  I'm not so great at music theory so that sort of method for writing eludes me.  As the song progresses, I find the words and syllables that fit the sound I'm hearing.  Not sure if that's how others do it, but I do.  Occasionally, I can find the repeats and I might start with a chorus and work from the chorus to the beginning, then pick up and go the other way after the chorus.  Writing to existing songs take a little longer for me than straight lyrics.  Incredibly fascinating to me though, how the end product turns out.  What I usually run into though is a little hump I have to plow through.  Sometimes, a different note or direction is what I'm expecting and it throws a monkey wrench into the vocal melody I envision for it.  I usually figure a way over it, but I have to amend my really (maybe) great idea.  Thing is, I most always like it, but it delays the finished product a bit and writing time is precious.  Does anyone use any tried and true strategies to speed this process up?

I do this all the time. It works for me and I'm not sure there would be a way to 'speed the process up'. Even if I start with lyrics first they have usually changed quite a bit by the time the song (with music) is in its first draft - and likely to change again as the drafts progress.

 

I pretty much always have the chorus thought through first when listening to a melody initially and the song builds from that - and then goes through the steps already listed.

 

I think if it works, it works! So don't sweat it too much! 😀

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As a boy I used to put words to pop songs. It started because I couldn't make out the words anyway. Oftimes I would find words that make more sense that the original to me at least. Whiter Shade of Pale was one such.

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11 hours ago, Rudi said:

As a boy I used to put words to pop songs. It started because I couldn't make out the words anyway. Oftimes I would find words that make more sense that the original to me at least. Whiter Shade of Pale was one such.

I still do this! It's fun to put new words to a known track... 😀

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I'm not top-lining to my own music, rather to someone else's.  When I do do my own,  lyrics come first, then vocal melody (or both together), then I find the chords---but then, I'm not a skilled musician  or mixer.  If I was, I'd probably do music first sometimes.

2 hours ago, Rob Ash said:

 

 

For what it is worth, I'd say worry more about the end result, and less about elapsed time or the effort involved. It takes what it takes, and will ultimately seem worth it to you if the end result is a killer tune.

 

 

  That's an encouraging comment, Rob Ash as well as the idea of it being art that can't be rushed.  

 

I just sometimes get get frustrated when I hit those bumps because my schedule is so variable for writing time and sometimes I have to put off finishing longer than I'd like.  That's why I inquired about methods that might bring it out quicker.   I had no idea my method was what others use as well since I never really discussed it with anyone before.  I figured my method might be the long way around writing to already created music.

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Hey, Kelly. :)

 

I think you just have to train yourself to get used to writing within the confines of a structure, the more you practice it(quantity>quality) the better and faster you'll probably get. Not everything that comes out of a writing session is gonna be a master piece, but the chances of creating one will increase as your total output increases. The quality/skill of your songwriting will only get better with more practice. Besides, you can always return to a song you've written a year ago to make improvements.

 

What I usually do with my mixing and mastering practice is to set a realistic deadline. At first, I gave myself 2 weeks to complete 1 track. As I got faster, I reduced it to 1 track a week. Now I'm producing 3 tracks in 2 weeks and I'm looking to bring that to 2 tracks in 1 week. At first, the quality wasn't all that great but through trial and error and just going through the same process over and over again, I now know what to avoid to save time and improve quality(of course, I still have a long way to go). The article at the bottom of this post(my signature) might interest you.

 

Increase your output and I believe you'll develop your own method, naturally.

 

Ken

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1 hour ago, ImKeN said:

The article at the bottom of this post(my signature) might interest you.

 

Increase your output and I believe you'll develop your own method, naturally.

 

Ken

 

Ken, this article is very good. It's very difficult to go with the quantity concept for those who prefer quality. But yes... quantity does make a lot of sense in the long run. I guess one important factor while treading this path (quantity) is awareness for quality. If that's not there, then there just might be a whole lot of finished products without a clear trajectory of progress. 

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5 hours ago, Sreyashi Mukherjee said:

I guess one important factor while treading this path (quantity) is awareness for quality. If that's not there, then there just might be a whole lot of finished products without a clear trajectory of progress. 

 

That is true, Sumi. It is easy to stop caring especially when you're trying out something new and you totally suck at it. But even then, a person who truly wants to achieve something will always pick themselves up and strive for their personal best! :)

 

If you're a perfectionist like me, the hardest part will be prioritizing the essential tasks and letting go of the minor ones. You'll make a lot of mistakes at first but you will learn from them pretty quickly if you stick to the deadline. If you decide to make one song in one week, spend no more than a week. Even if you're not finished by the end of that week, drop it and don't make the same mistake in your next song.

 

Because you don't have all the time in the world to spend on one song, you're forced to make decisions faster. Automatically, you'll start to plan ahead of time and set goals from a session-to-session basis. Maybe the first 10 songs you write will be too embarrassing to share with anyone, but the point is to learn how to be efficient with your time and keeping the deadline no matter what. Its all about experiencing the most in the least amount of time possible, this will add quality to your output in the not-so-long-run. 

 

This method may not be for everyone but it's definitely working for me. 👍

 

 

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  • 2 weeks later...
On 9/12/2017 at 11:43 PM, Pahchisme Plaid said:

What I usually run into though is a little hump I have to plow through.  Sometimes, a different note or direction is what I'm expecting and it throws a monkey wrench into the vocal melody I envision for it.  I usually figure a way over it, but I have to amend my really (maybe) great idea.  Thing is, I most always like it, but it delays the finished product a bit and writing time is precious.  Does anyone use any tried and true strategies to speed this process up?

 

Are you talking about writing words to the melody written by a collaborator? Or writing new words to an existing 'record'? E.g writing a whole new set of lyrics to 'Yesterday'?

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Not an existing record @MonoStone, but music composed by a collaborator.  

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