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Thread: Writing songs?

  1. #1
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    12.31.69 @ 04:00 PM
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    What are some of the ways you guys come up with the riffs,chorus,bridges and everything when writing songs. I have a real hard time writing riffs but I can throw down a good sounding chorus and bridge but it sucks because the songs main riff is weak.

    I cant get anything done while jamming with my mates, I have to sit down by myself and work on it. What do you guys do?

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    12.31.69 @ 04:00 PM
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    What I generally do is probably a bit foreign to most people out there, so maybe it will help you out.


    Whenever I come up with any idea, I usually have a good sense as to what part of a song it would be, ie a verse, chorus, whatever. I then take that idea and reduce it to its absolute minimum-the crux of the motif, as it were. Once it is stripped down, I can determine whether its heart is one of rhythm, harmony, melody, pulse, texture, or whatever. Then, I develop the other parts of the song FROM the stripped down part. Since the essence of each idea is different, the development of each idea is different.

    If there is an insistent rhythm involved, I make sure that the rhythm is always present either as-is, permutated, mutated, contrasted, etc etc. And this very basic common denominator will dominate the song, even if it's in a very subliminal form.

    I also make sure that there is either a STRONG tonal center, or I make it obvious that there IS NO tonal center (this one is rare, but I have done that on occasion). I often wander through many keys and many regions of keys, but I maintain focus of direction on coming back to where it belongs.

    I think my methods of writing are a little more classically-based than most. I start with a theme, I contrast/develop/extrapolate/mutate/etc that theme, and I eventually end up with a cohesive piece of music.

    To help spark your creativity, try working in the OPPOSITE fashion than you're used to. Start with a melody, then harmonize it, then develop the harmonization into something a little more riff-oriented, and see where it takes you. Or, start with a riff, find some chord changes you like, and permutate the riff to FIT those changes. Just try anything and everything.

    Oddly, the ONE way I have never been able to successfully write a piece of music is by starting with a drum beat. I have come up with a lot of riffs that never seem to go anywhere that way, no matter how hard I try.

    Having a strong working knowledge of theory and harmony is a priceless commodity, because divine inspiration isn't dependable.

    A few strange discoveries I have made over the years: rhythms WITHOUT any harmony in them CAN resolve; when changing keys, the first chord you play (or hint at) in the new key does NOT need to be the tonic of that key; stringing together riffs like a patchwork quilt do NOT a song make; there is nothing wrong with painstakingly working out compositional or arranging problems on paper; there are MANY levels of rhythm going on at any given moment (pulse, beat, harmonic rhythm, melodic rhythm, textural rhythm, etc) and the way they mesh or contrast is what makes or breaks an idea; people really don't care if you are substituting chords from a 'proper' jazz perspective--if it sounds like a nasty mistake, it usually IS a nasty mistake; and most importantly, for every one thing you DO know about music, there's a thousand others that you don't, no matter who you are or what you know.

    One more thing: you don't NEED to have a
    'main riff' or even ANY riff to make a song work. If riff-writing isn't your thing, try another approach. Try anything: write a whole song using only 2 strings; write a song using a capo; write a song in a style you hate; write a song in complete darkness; write a song naked; write a song on something other than a guitar; write in a weird key or time signature; write a song on paper with NO instruments to help you. Whatever! If you don't like the resulting song, you will have learned a few things while doing it. I figure that, for every piece of music I consider a 'keeper', I have thrown out a dozen others.
    Don't bark at me...<b>I</b> didn't name ya.

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    03.30.13 @ 09:28 AM
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    Homeunit's an excellent writer, and he'd be the one to ask, but he's out of town at the moment so I'll put in my 2 cents. I usually take a bass guitar an play around till I come up with a pattern I like, centered around a simple click track. Once I've recorded that (the bass),I go back and put a rhythm over it. If I like the combination then I go to the drummers house and have him lay down a drum track.
    If that works for me, then I put vocals to the song. I usually have the vocal idea in my head and write it to fit the music. While I'm working on the original bass pattern I put in the bridges, hooks, etc.
    After it's all done, then I put the leads in last behind the vocals. That lets me concentrate on doing the leads that I think would be right for the tune. I've always written that way, but since writing is the same as playing, it's everyone's individual expression, I'm sure no two people use the same method for writing. What works for me might not work for AVH, and what works for Abe won't work for HomeUnit,etc...
    The only advise I can give is not worry about doing Eddie type riffs right off the bat. Get an idea one way or the other, and then worry about the riffs. Like we're always saying on here, don't rack your brains, it'll come. Have fun doing it and the ideas will come to you.

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    I always start with lyrics first...they determine the feel of the story I want to tell...I also use the 'Beatle' method...I sing the song to myself before instrumentation...I find my melody, then put the chords to it...

    I had a songwriting thread in MP Music...we had a cool country thing going, if you'd like to check it out...Go back a week or so...
    Can't stop...addicted to the shindig...

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    06.23.17 @ 09:49 PM
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    we just play around and ill catch a drum beat and start working on that...were just playing heavy stuff so its alot of dtuned stuff so its not that hard.but its hard to come up with good eddie riffs but sometimes a good drum beat can be inspiring.
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