gfxgfx
 
Welcome, Guest. Please login or register.

Login with username, password and session length
logo
 
gfx gfx
gfx
638893 Posts in 25535 Topics by 3626 Members - Latest Member: Julia October 17, 2018, 03:40:32 PM
*
gfx*HomeHelpSearchCalendarLoginRegistergfx
gfxgfx
0 Members and 1 Guest are viewing this topic.       « previous next »
Pages: [1] Go Down Print
Author Topic: Songwriters: How do you work?  (Read 5757 times)
the captain
Smiley Smile Associate
*
Offline Offline

Posts: 7255


View Profile
« on: February 21, 2007, 02:02:44 PM »

I know there are plenty of other musicians on this board, so I thought a discussion about how we all compose might be very interesting. I know different people have different approaches. For example:

- Do you write a consistent way all the time, or does it vary?
- Music before lyrics, lyrics before music or simultaneously?
- Do you sit down and decide "now is time to write," or just do it when the spirit strikes you?
- Do you prefer to be left alone or to work with someone else?
- Do you write entire songs, or in bits and pieces?
- Do you arrange while you write, or leave that for later?
- From where do you tend to get inspiration?
- Do you censor yourself in any way, and if so, how?

If you want to discuss these or any other aspects of how you go about, I know I'd love to hear what you have to say. If people get into this at all, I'd be more than happy to discuss how I go about writing.
Logged

Demon-Fighting Genius; Patronizing Twaddler; Argumentative, Sanctimonious Prick; Sensationalist Dullard; and Douche who (occasionally to rarely) puts songs here.

No interest in your assorted grudges and nonsense.
matt-zeus
Smiley Smile Associate
*
Offline Offline

Posts: 1064



View Profile WWW
« Reply #1 on: February 22, 2007, 01:12:47 AM »

Hi Luther, It varies:
- Music before lyrics, lyrics before music or simultaneously? - both, but mostly music and melodies before lyrics
- Do you sit down and decide "now is time to write," or just do it when the spirit strikes you? - Mostly out of the blue with regards to getting a tune, when thats not happening, working on already written stuff.
- Do you prefer to be left alone or to work with someone else? - Alone, have composed music for other peoples lyrics though
- Do you write entire songs, or in bits and pieces? - Both, sometimes a whole thing if the inspiration is there, otherwise a chorus and a verse here and there and then sometimes stuck together
- Do you arrange while you write, or leave that for later? - Both, sometimes a complete arrangement comes into my head, other times I may completely rework an arrangement over time
- From where do you tend to get inspiration? - Emotions, women, places, food, situations
- Do you censor yourself in any way, and if so, how? - I tend not to swear in songs as I don't like it (though I swear all the time when i'm talking!), however innuendo is used!

How about you?
Logged

Disco, disco, discotheque mama...

My music: http://www.thebrigadier.co.uk
Chris Brown
Smiley Smile Associate
*
Offline Offline

Posts: 2005


View Profile
« Reply #2 on: February 22, 2007, 12:43:27 PM »

Awesome thread Luther!  Let's see here...

- Do you write a consistent way all the time, or does it vary?
I'm somewhat consistent, in that I usually start just by messing around with chords on piano or guitar, and then if something sounds good I go with it.  Messing around and randomly stumbling on something good is how most of my songs start.

- Music before lyrics, lyrics before music or simultaneously?
When I was younger I would usually do lyrics first, then throw some music on top of them later.  I don't think that was a good method for me in retrospect; I remember once taking lyrics for 7-8 songs into a practice room with my guitar and just quickly doing the music for them, one by one.  Usually anything done that quick won't be that good, so now I take my time.  I usually record a track first without much thought about the lyrics.  Sometimes I may have an idea about what the lyric will be but I wait until the track is more or less finished before I start working on lyrics.  On a rare occassion, both music and lyrics come to me at the same time, which makes life easier for sure.  I generally don't think I'm very good at lyrics (though I do have my moments), so that's probably why I focus more on the music now.

- Do you sit down and decide "now is time to write," or just do it when the spirit strikes you?
Both I suppose.  Most of my best songs have come from sudden inspiration, those times when I just HAVE to write a song.  Unfortunately, this doesn't happen very often, so yea a lot of times I'll just sit at the piano and see if something comes to me.  Other times I may be inspired and come up with a first verse or chorus lyric or something, and that's it.  The problem then becomes coming back to it later to try and finish, which I don't often do.  I guess there's always the chance, but I've got tons of random verses and choruses lying around that probably won't ever be touched (either because they aren't that good or just not knowing what to do to complete them).  The only risk you take when the spirit strikes you for a verse or a chorus is that as you're writing it, you're so pumped to get this great idea out and you think its the best thing ever.  But I've learned to let things sit a few days, then go back and see if it's really worth continuing work on.  Often times the same verse that you thought was awesome when you wrote it really isn't all that special.  That's the point where I tend to ditch things.

- Do you prefer to be left alone or to work with someone else?
As long as I've been writing (over 10 years now), I've pretty much always worked alone.  Not so much by choice, but because I really haven't ever known anyone who I could write with.  Last year I wrote a song with a buddy who is better with lyrics than I am (and a great songwriter in his own right), and that was pretty cool.  I enjoyed having someone there to bounce ideas off of.  Plus I could focus more on the music, which I like doing better than writing lyrics anyways.  I'd love to find a co-writer to work with on a consistent basis, just to see what new ideas we could come up with.

- Do you write entire songs, or in bits and pieces?
Up until a few years ago I just wrote entire songs, but at that point I started experimenting with the "bits and pieces" approach.  It's actually pretty fun, but can be confusing too.  I haven't come anywhere close to finishing that project (mostly because I can't write lyrics to fit the music), and I'm not sure I ever will.  I'm at a point where I have a basic structure for a lot of the songs, but I second guess myself all the time, which never happens while writing "normally".  I think I've recorded something like 60 "sections" for about 8 or 9 songs; obviously, strong evidence of indecision.  That's never happened to me before, and is definitely a result of writing in that style (as Smile is good evidence of).  I'd definitely recommend trying it though, just for something different.

- Do you arrange while you write, or leave that for later?
Both...I usually have ideas about the arrangement while I'm writing, as in what instruments I want and maybe some alternate melodic lines they could play, but its not until I actually go to record that I really get into working on the arrangement.  I'm always tweaking it, adding or removing parts and such.  Whatever ideas I may have had while writing may stick, or I may forget them, or I just might decide not to use them.  The studio is where the arrangement really comes together.  I wish I could claim that I always have the whole thing in my head beforehand like Brian, but I'm not quite that good.

- From where do you tend to get inspiration?
Romantic things mostly, those are the easiest from a lyrical standpoint.  Relationships and girls provide most of my inspiration I suppose.  I'm the king of depressing ballads (for better or worse); I could do those in my sleep.  Again I think my relative lack of lyrical ability holds me back from doing different things.  I'm okay at doing random surrealist lyrics that mean nothing, but not good enough to use them most of the time. 

- Do you censor yourself in any way, and if so, how?
Never really had a need to.  I think I may have used "damn" or "hell" once or twice but nothing beyond that.
Logged
the captain
Smiley Smile Associate
*
Offline Offline

Posts: 7255


View Profile
« Reply #3 on: February 23, 2007, 03:19:15 PM »

I decided to use examples, so I have posted yousendit links to songs as I describe them. Feel free to download them if you want--otherwise hopefully my descriptions will suffice.

I subscribe to two simultaneous methods of songwriting. (It's funny, because as I read the Essential Dylan Interviews, I caught glimpses of these same ideas throughout his interviews over the years.) First, I think music, including writing, is a mostly technical craft. It isn't some magical gift from above, but something that people study, practice, etc. And so a lot of the time I give myself exercises, and I fulfill them. I wrote quite a few songs for my bands this way. But at the same time, and somehow not contradictory in my mind, I do the exact opposite--I sit down quickly and for no reason and write music, often among my favorites of all.

1. This first example was an exercise. I had written the basic chord progression of the verse a year or so before (meaning maybe 2003), but that was it. However, while in early rehearsals for my old band Ellen Kay (and these recordings all come from that band), I assigned myself a song after a practice one night. It had just begun raining lightly, and I told myself I'd go for a walk and finish a song before I got back. If I didn't, well, I wouldn't come back. So I walked, repeating lines and melodic fragments--often out loud, making me no doubt seem insane--as I went so I wouldn't forget. The entire thing--words and music--was written and basically arranged while I was getting ready for and then on a walk. It begins very literally, and then I start developing a story as I walk/write.

Go Back to the House
http://download.yousendit.com/FCA803E62E1BE448

2. This second example was written shortly after I got into the Velvet Underground, as a 20-year-old in 1996. The music was written very quickly, as were the basic aspects of the lyrics. But it was strictly a two-guitar/bass/drums song. I rewrote the last verse at least three times over the years, and brought it back for the band Ellen Kay. My keyboardist (a brilliant musician) then added the arpeggios, 80s synth sound and Beethoven quote.

...And Even Now (Smile!)
http://download.yousendit.com/47BDA25C5B387983

3. This one, like the last one, began as a stylistic thing. While the previous one was written as I thought about "Sweet Jane," this one was written with "Who Needs You?" by Queen (Sheer Heart Attack album) in mind--a nylon-string acoustic, semi-slow, Latin sound. I wrote the chords and the first verse in a couple of minutes and LOVED it. But that was all...so while that much was done in about 2003, I didn't finish the song until summer 2004. Arrangements changed frequently through rehearsals and shows, and this isn't even really the final one, but anyone who knows "Who Needs You?" will note that it turned out much faster, heaver (thanks to the keyboards and drums) and not at all in that vein!

My Old Girlfriend
http://download.yousendit.com/56CAC3AD6F646776

4. The last example was a pure exercise. Valentine's Day, 2005, I sat down with the acoustic guitar after work and said I was going to write a song about Valentine's Day. Breakups being the easiest thing on earth to write about (in my opinion), I wrote a song about a fictitious one. I tried to be as literal and detailed as I could, taking the listener through it. So you hear lines like

"She picked me up some flowers, put them in a vase, and put them on the table. And I asked, 'what is this?' And I asked 'Who are these for?" And she laughed at me, but not for very long--she slammed the door."

The arrangement is actually the live one--there was a plan to have a great musician named Bob Parins (check him out, btw...bobparins.com or myspace.com/bobparins) play pedal steel where you hear the lead guitar, but I dissolved the band before we got to that point!

Valentine's Day
http://download.yousendit.com/D78D743570214D0A


So... Sometimes I write in fragments and put them together later--often as parts of different songs, years later. Sometimes I sit down and write a complete song. Sometimes I know ahead of time what I plan to write about. Sometimes it just pops into my head.

I'll close with a note on censorship. What I meant by self-censoring wasn't necessarily in terms of profanity, but more like taste. Would you say "I am not going to write [topic/style/sound] because it is too [common/unusual/popular/hipsterish/whatever]."? For example, for a few years I wouldn't use the word love in a song because it was so easy to fall into cliches. If I was going to write about it, I wanted to write about it without being obvious. Anyime I think of an obvious rhyme (mad/sad, or love / fits like a glove -- sadly used by Bob Dylan on this last album!) I won't use it. I try not to write lyrical cliches. I also try not to swear, because to me it comes off as a pathetic attempt to be noticed as "rebellious," but sounds more like a snotty 12-year-old. Ditto for overt sexual references.

So...that was a long post. Sorry. But I hope you enjoy it as much as I enjoyed those that came before it. And while the band that recorded the songs with me is dead and gone, I'm curious to know your thoughts on those songs, too, if you listen to them.
« Last Edit: February 23, 2007, 03:20:55 PM by Luther » Logged

Demon-Fighting Genius; Patronizing Twaddler; Argumentative, Sanctimonious Prick; Sensationalist Dullard; and Douche who (occasionally to rarely) puts songs here.

No interest in your assorted grudges and nonsense.
Alan Boyd
Honored Guest
******
Offline Offline

Posts: 274


View Profile
« Reply #4 on: February 27, 2007, 04:26:00 PM »

Wow - neat thread!

OK then:

- Music before lyrics, lyrics before music or simultaneously?
     Totally depends on the tune and whether I'm working with someone else or not.  USUALLY the music comes first, but lately I seem to be coming up with complete sets of lyrics - with a tune running through my head at the same time - before I even get to a piano.  Working with someone else, aggain that depends on the individual I'm working with.  Steve Kalinich usually has lyrics fairly well worked out before we sit down, and we basically just adjust words to music until we get it finished.

- Do you sit down and decide "now is time to write," or just do it when the spirit strikes you?
     Again, it depends on the situation.  Sometimes (and I'll admit I really enjoy this when it happens) someone will call up and say they need a song or (more likely, in my case) a piece of music for such and such a project or film or whatever, and I'll sit down and write something to order.... Otherwise, it just sort of comes and goes when the inspiration strikes.  But there's nothing more inspiring than knowing that there's an outlet waiting!

- Do you prefer to be left alone or to work with someone else?
     Alone is probably more.... comfortable.  Sometimes it's great fun to write with someone else, especially if you're both really getting into the process.  But after the initial give and take and brainstorming part, I do like to work alone when it comes to getting the ideas organized.

- Do you write entire songs, or in bits and pieces?
     Yes! 

- Do you arrange while you write, or leave that for later?
     Usually leave that for later, unless it's one pof those solitary sessions in the home studio when I'm just "farting around"  with a chord progression and a melody - in those cases, I'll often come up with a (very, very messy) rough arrangement while it's fresh in my head, and then go back later to pick up the pieces and possibly turn that into a song.  Sometimes these old "sketches" come in really handy later on....

- From where do you tend to get inspiration?
     Anywhere and everywhere!  Usually, though, a lot of ideas come from watching people going through life.  I often tend to wrote songs from the POV of a distinct "protagonist" and a story.  One day Susan Lang called up and was complaining about the hassle of shoveling snow in sub-zero weather during an especially severe Connecticut winyet - which led to a strange little half-a-song called "Too Damn Cold" - which worked really well with an old semi-Hawaiin thing I had been playing for Brian Chidester - and suddenly there was a story there, "Hawaiian Rhapsody," about a very cold dude shoveling snow and daydreaming about the Tropics.

- Do you censor yourself in any way, and if so, how?
     Hmmmm... not really.  But then again I've never really had the urge to do anything very raunchy... at least, not yet!













Logged
Alan Boyd
Honored Guest
******
Offline Offline

Posts: 274


View Profile
« Reply #5 on: February 27, 2007, 04:37:20 PM »

A quick little note about censorship - a few people did look at me a little funny for including the line "freezing my balls off" in that Hawaiian tune.

But, in regards to Luther's comment:

I'll close with a note on censorship. What I meant by self-censoring wasn't necessarily in terms of profanity, but more like taste. Would you say "I am not going to write [topic/style/sound] because it is too [common/unusual/popular/hipsterish/whatever]."?

Yes - let's all resolve not to use the word "baby" unless it's really, really, really necessary.

Has anyone here ever heard Harry Nilsson's ditty, "How To Write A Song"?  Many useful tips there.  I esppecially like the way ol' Harry starts it off:

 "Well, if you write it on guitar place your guitar upon your knee, if you write it on piano, don't do that..."

Also this bit o' wisdom:

"Don't try to rhyme 'silver' with anything, yeah
That goes for 'orange' as well
But, notice how cleverly I just used them both,
And all I have to do is rhyme... well!"

(We miss Harry Nilsson)

Logged
aeijtzsche
Honored Guest
******
Offline Offline

Gender: Female
Posts: 2372



View Profile
« Reply #6 on: February 28, 2007, 01:19:46 AM »

- Do you write a consistent way all the time, or does it vary?

Pretty consistent.

- Music before lyrics, lyrics before music or simultaneously?

Nearly always music before lyrics, often I'll have the finished track recorded before I worry about lyrics.

- Do you sit down and decide "now is time to write," or just do it when the spirit strikes you?

The spirit has yet to take me, songwriting has always been an intellectual exercise for me, unfortunately.

- Do you prefer to be left alone or to work with someone else?

Got to be alone.  I wish it were different, but every time I've tried to write a song with somebody it ends in fisticuffs.  I lack the social skills and the ability to compromise peacefully.

That said, I would love to bring more or less complete songs into a great band and hash out an arrangement with them.  I think that collaboration, in some form or another, is essential for complex and interesting music.

- Do you write entire songs, or in bits and pieces?

I almost always "throughcompose" a song on the spot.  If I don't get it in 20 minutes or so, my ADD-riddled brain will move on and the song will never be seen again.

- Do you arrange while you write, or leave that for later?

For me, writing IS arrangement.  I hear the arrangement in my head as I write.  I'm not afraid to change the original arrangement once I start recording, though.  Or after I've recorded several versions of the song.  I have this one song that I've recorded at least 8 versions of it, and in fact have not recorded the definitive version, and will not do so until I'm able to track a world class band composed of a mixture of big-band jazz cats, rock-and-rollers, and perhaps one brilliant country guitarist playing the backing track onto 3-track at Western Recorders...

- From where do you tend to get inspiration?

The Beach Boys.

Lyrically, my inspiration is simply the eccentricity of the English language.

- Do you censor yourself in any way, and if so, how?

I have to impose predetermined limits on myself, as somebody who doesn't really work from a muse...  I will invariably start a songwriting session with a series of goals, and then go about fulfilling those goals.

For instance, I will pick a certain number of chords to limit myself to through a certain number of measures, or be required to change keys using a dominant substitution, or use a descending melodic sequence.
Logged
the captain
Smiley Smile Associate
*
Offline Offline

Posts: 7255


View Profile
« Reply #7 on: February 28, 2007, 01:46:04 PM »



- Do you censor yourself in any way, and if so, how?

I have to impose predetermined limits on myself, as somebody who doesn't really work from a muse...  I will invariably start a songwriting session with a series of goals, and then go about fulfilling those goals.

For instance, I will pick a certain number of chords to limit myself to through a certain number of measures, or be required to change keys using a dominant substitution, or use a descending melodic sequence.

This is extremely interesting to me, and exactly the kind of answers I was hoping for from that question. I'm also glad somebody else sometimes approaches songwriting from a purely intellectual (or what I might call workmanlike, or craftsman-like) perspective sometimes. As much talk as there is about "inspiration," and while sometimes I feel I've simply been given complete songs, usually there is no mystery to it whatsoever. It's more of: "well, if I don't write more songs, the group won't have any more songs. I guess I'd better write. Hmm...my shoes are red. I'm going to write a song called 'Red Shoes.'" Then it's time to sit down and start working something out.

P.S., yes, I really do have a song called "Red Shoes," and it really was written about the combination of my red Converse All-Stars and my annoyance at having to write songs that sometimes band members complain about (despite not doing any songwriting). I'm a bit of a bitch sometimes.
Logged

Demon-Fighting Genius; Patronizing Twaddler; Argumentative, Sanctimonious Prick; Sensationalist Dullard; and Douche who (occasionally to rarely) puts songs here.

No interest in your assorted grudges and nonsense.
MBE
Guest
« Reply #8 on: February 28, 2007, 03:19:05 PM »

I am more vocaly inclined but I have written a few songs. For me I hear a melody then add words. I haven't written very many but there are two I like. One was a preexisting melody I added words to, the other was all original except for the title. The rest I think were terrible. In other words I was musically inspired by other people and was able to go from there. Doing it from scratch was pretty hsrd, so for me I had to mix others ideas with my own. I will say that writing personal is good ala Brian, Dennis, Dylan etc, but you can make a song like Working Class Hero (Lennon) that may be too personal for some to relate too. In that case the song itself has power in it's performance but looses me in it's self pity.
Logged
Bill Tobelman
Smiley Smile Associate
*
Offline Offline

Posts: 527



View Profile WWW
« Reply #9 on: March 01, 2007, 09:44:49 AM »

I've been trying for decades to write good songs (songs that I would buy if I heard them).

These days my stuff seems acceptable so here are my answers to the original questions.

-Do you write a consistent way all the time, or does it vary?
Goes both ways. If you're in a samey rut you try and approach things from a different angle. Usually I try & start with melody. Picking out a melody on guitar expands my melodic palette better than a melody off the top of my head. I try for a bluesy type of melody with some interesting notes in there for effect. Then I give the melody the singing test cuz if it's too clumsy to sing you've got to smooth things out. Then I go for backing chords trying various combinations.

- Music before lyrics, lyrics before music or simultaneously?
Lyrics need to be okay but I'm more hung up with the music.

- Do you sit down and decide "now is time to write," or just do it when the spirit strikes you?
Do it both ways. Sometimes if you force yourself to do it you'll start off crappy but after a while you'll get connected and be into the process.

- Do you prefer to be left alone or to work with someone else?
Alone.

- Do you write entire songs, or in bits and pieces?
I work on bits & pieces--but I also connect things in a way which flows via your chord progressions. In this way the song is unified and it harmonically guides you through the listening experience.

- From where do you tend to get inspiration?
Inspiration comes from the excitement of listening to cool music. You want to recreate that feeling via your music.

- Do you censor yourself in any way, and if so, how?
This may seem like a weird way to answer the question but I censor my songs by removing lame chord changes or anything that sounds too obvious. Then I try and use chords & vamps that harken back to the Tin Pan Alley days. The corny chord changes & accents add a uniqueness to the music and a heightened level of listening enjoyment.
Logged

"Connect, Always Connect..." - Arthur Koestler

"No discovery has ever been made by logical deduction..." - Arthur Koestler
Aegir
Smiley Smile Associate
*
Offline Offline

Posts: 4679



View Profile
« Reply #10 on: March 03, 2007, 02:23:42 AM »

- Do you write a consistent way all the time, or does it vary?
This sort of goes hand-in-hand basically every other question, but let me just say I usually write my songs on guitar, except for when I'm writing songs for the band I play bass for, which I always specifically write for that band (most of the songs I've written I just write for the hell of it, but I play bass for a feminist punk drag band, so I have to actually put myself in an entirely different mindset) so I usually write something that would be easy for me to play on bass. The only songs I've ever written on piano are instrumentals.
- Music before lyrics, lyrics before music or simultaneously?
It all depends. Sometimes I'll write like a verse and a chorus, then come up with music for it, play it through a bunch of times, abandon it for awhile, then come back to it and write the rest of the lyrics. Sometimes I'll come up with an interesting chord progression and try to come up with lyrics to it. Before I was moderately proficient at guitar I would just write full lyrics and then struggle to come up with music to it; the first song I ever wrote both the music and the lyrics to was a poem combined with me putting my fingers on random strings in a pattern. Sometimes I'll just be fiddling around on the guitar and I'll only get like a small phrase, the most recent example of this was when I improvised the line "what do you know, that's where I am" and then I rhymed "am" with "ham" and then I decided to make the song about the perils of eating non-organic food.
- Do you sit down and decide "now is time to write," or just do it when the spirit strikes you?
I usually just write whenever I feel like it. One time I was just driving and I wrote an entire song, music and lyrics, in my head. The only times I've written a song "on purpose" was when an ex forced me to write a few songs about her or when I write songs for school projects and such.
- Do you prefer to be left alone or to work with someone else?
I write most of my songs by myself. Whenever I'm collaborating with someone they either think my lyrics are too out there or that my music doesn't fit the tune they have in their head.
- Do you write entire songs, or in bits and pieces?
Lots of songs I write just end up being a verse or two and nothing more. I really hate leaving what I feel is a good song unfinished, though.
- Do you arrange while you write, or leave that for later?
Most of the songs I write for my band I have some idea of the arrangement and I imagine everyone playing the song in my head and it's great. They usually end up changing it, though. Most of my "solo" songs are just acoustic guitar and vocals, unless I really feel it needs something else.
- From where do you tend to get inspiration?
Nature, love, and other lame things.
- Do you censor yourself in any way, and if so, how?
There's so many things I can write songs about but I can't because I don't want people knowing those things about me. And I try to make most of my songs sound timeless; I avoid mentioning the internet or cellphones or CDs or anything like that.
Logged

Every time you spell Smile as SMiLE, an angel's wings are forcibly torn off its body.
halblaineisgood
Guest
« Reply #11 on: March 20, 2007, 08:54:41 AM »

wow, you are all a bunch of f***ing professionals on here.....If I'm improvising at the piano and I come up with a good figure, then I'll slave over some crappy lyrics for a few days......that's it....
Logged
alf wiedersehen
Smiley Smile Associate
*
Offline Offline

Posts: 2178


View Profile
« Reply #12 on: May 10, 2016, 02:46:58 PM »

I know there are plenty of other musicians on this board, so I thought a discussion about how we all compose might be very interesting. I know different people have different approaches. For example:

- Do you write a consistent way all the time, or does it vary?
- Music before lyrics, lyrics before music or simultaneously?
- Do you sit down and decide "now is time to write," or just do it when the spirit strikes you?
- Do you prefer to be left alone or to work with someone else?
- Do you write entire songs, or in bits and pieces?
- Do you arrange while you write, or leave that for later?
- From where do you tend to get inspiration?
- Do you censor yourself in any way, and if so, how?

If you want to discuss these or any other aspects of how you go about, I know I'd love to hear what you have to say. If people get into this at all, I'd be more than happy to discuss how I go about writing.


I was looking for a thread about favorite songwriters, but I found this instead. Now that I'm writing more often and actually finishing stuff, I thought I would toss in my own relatively-inexperienced, insignificant thoughts on the process.

- Do you write a consistent way all the time, or does it vary?
Consistency is an interesting question. I don't consciously write in a solidified way; I just go with whatever appears to be happening at the moment. Sometimes it's a lyrical idea, sometimes it's guitar chords, sometimes it's piano chords, other times it's just pure improvisation. The order everything is written in isn't a thought out process either. Now that I'm answering this question, I would have to say no, it's not consistent. I rely pretty heavily on spontaneity, I think. Consistently spontaneous? This is the question I'm wrestling with.

- Music before lyrics, lyrics before music or simultaneously?
Hmm, I would have to say it varies. Sometimes I'll come up with the words first, and then find music to match. Other times, I'll come up with the music first, and then add words to it. Other times, I'll come up with both at once. Words and melody usually enter my brain simultaneously, which I find odd, but I don't question it. I think finding words for music (rather than finding music for words) is harder for me to do.

- Do you sit down and decide "now is time to write," or just do it when the spirit strikes you?
I've been playing a lot of music lately, and the songs just seem to keep coming to me. In the past, I have sat down at the piano for a few hours at a time working on writing songs--it's not often, though. I certainly don't schedule appointments with my instruments; I'll just play guitar or piano whenever I feel like it. Sometimes I'll just play stuff I already know, sometimes I'll tinker around and come up with something, and other times absolutely nothing productive occurs. I suppose that's a long way of saying "whenever the spirit strikes [me]."

- Do you prefer to be left alone or to work with someone else?
Either one. Recently, I've been writing songs by myself, but I usually run them by Judd to see if they're worth working on further. I value outside input. I've also done a lot of work with others in the past (including Judd), and I've really enjoyed it. I have a friend I've known since elementary school, and the two of us are usually in perfect harmony when it comes to creating music. I tried writing music with another friend, but he didn't really contribute anything other than accidentally giving me an idea for lyrics. When I do write alone, sometimes I'll bring the songs to other people, and see what they can add to it. I'm always open to working with others.

- Do you write entire songs, or in bits and pieces?
In the past, I usually came up with multiple bits and pieces that I never finished or did anything with. I believe I may have glued a few of them together a couple times to make something out of them. Now, I'm trying to write entire songs--perhaps in an effort to actually finish stuff. I think it really depends on what I want from the song, though. There's a song I'm planning on writing, and I'm expecting to use a lot of different pieces throughout it.

- Do you arrange while you write, or leave that for later?
Most often that comes later. Sometimes I can hear what I want in my head, sometimes I have no idea. I tend to work on the basic song before I begin adding ornaments to it. Often times, the arrangement will be created when I work with others after having written the basic song.

- From where do you tend to get inspiration?
Anywhere, really. Most of what I've been writing in the last few weeks has been focused on stuff I've experienced in my life. A lot of it focuses on my weird, complicated romantic past (and present). Tongue I guess you could translate that into saying "I've received a lot of inspiration from David Gedge of The Wedding Present." I've also been working on another song inspired by the writing of James Joyce. Competition is probably also another factor: there's another band in the area I'm aiming to outdo.

- Do you censor yourself in any way, and if so, how?
Not as of yet. I've started writing a song called "At Least Think About It," and I'm almost one-hundred percent certain everyone in my area will understand what it means and who I'm talking about. Could be embarrassing for everyone involved. I'll find out soon enough. As for writing dirty, Zappa-like things? Honestly, I don't think anyone would be far off if they called me prudish, so I have no inclination to write like that anyway. If I had something along those lines to say, I would probably go a less-blunt, more-subtle route with my words.
Logged
Lonely Summer
Smiley Smile Associate
*
Offline Offline

Posts: 3036


View Profile
« Reply #13 on: May 10, 2016, 04:26:58 PM »



- Do you write a consistent way all the time, or does it vary? - yes, it varies; sometimes it all comes at once, other times it takes months or years to complete a song
- Music before lyrics, lyrics before music or simultaneously? - usually lyrics first, but even then, I usually have a vague idea of what kind of music I want to go with the words
- Do you sit down and decide "now is time to write," or just do it when the spirit strikes you? - only do it when inspired; there's enough songs in the world already
- Do you prefer to be left alone or to work with someone else? - I have collaborated a few times, but mostly I write alone, it's such a personal thing, hard to let anyone else into that space
- Do you write entire songs, or in bits and pieces? - both
- Do you arrange while you write, or leave that for later? - I have some idea of how I want it to sound, but that develops over time; I start by just putting my idea onto tape - recording with a portable cassette recorder; by the time I get around to recording it properly, the tempo or chords may have changed
- From where do you tend to get inspiration? - my own insane brain
- Do you censor yourself in any way, and if so, how? - oh yes, all the time; there is some stuff the world does not need to hear!



Logged
sockittome
Smiley Smile Associate
*
Offline Offline

Posts: 842


View Profile
« Reply #14 on: May 15, 2016, 09:48:18 AM »

What a cool old thread!  Thanks Bubs, for reviving this! 

-Do you write a consistent way all the time, or does it vary? - It definitely varies for me.  Different methods seem to work for different compositions.  For me to sit down and write a song from start to finish in one sitting...well, that almost never happens!  I've got pages of notes for unfinished songs, waiting for another burst of inspiration.  At some point I may jot down a few more stanzas, or even complete a song I started years ago.

-Music before lyrics, lyrics before music or simultaneously? - My songs almost always start out with a melody rolling around in my head.  Then I'll begin to formulate lyric ideas that might fit into the melody.  Before long I'll have a clear idea on what the song is about.  I very rarely start out by saying "hey, I'm gonna write a song about....."  Years ago, when I was writing poetry, there were times when I attempted to set some of my poems to music, but more often than not, the results weren't great.

-Do you sit down and decide "now is the time to write," or just do it when the spirit strikes you? - Almost always a spontaneous thing for me.  The only time I "sit down to write" is when I'm close to completing a work, but I'm careful not to force it.  If the ideas don't flow within, say, 15 minutes I'll put it aside.

-Do you prefer to be left alone or to work with someone else? - Except on a few occasions I have written all of my songs by myself.  I'm always open to the idea of collaborating, and have done so a few times in the past, but it has never gone well, and has even been disastrous in some cases!

-Do you write entire songs, or in bits and pieces? - Both.  About 90% of what I have written so far are complete songs, but I do have a few musical snippets that have not found a proper home.   On my last album I took some of my leftover pieces and made a few collages out of them to put between some tracks.

-Do you arrange while you write, or leave that for later? - Most arranging takes place as I write.  I usually have a pretty clear idea of the layout of a song, with all the instruments and their parts at the outset.  As the song nears completion I will fine tune the arrangement, and then do even more fine tuning as I record it.

-From where do you tend to get inspiration? - I listen to a lot of music--all kinds.  Rock, classic rock, blues, even a little classical.  Much of my inspiration comes from my interpretation of the music I listen to (although I NEVER copy!)  I also get inspiration from ideas that occur to me while I'm out hiking, biking, or driving.

-Do you censor yourself in any way, and if so, how? - Hey, I talk like a sailor sometimes....generally when I'm angry!  I don't write angry songs though, for the most part.  So, the use of harsh language just doesn't come up when I'm writing.  I guess that's not really censorship....I just don't do it.  I've never had to stop and think, Hey I can't sing that!
Logged
RangeRoverA1
Smiley Smile Associate
*
Offline Offline

Posts: 3731


I drink expired tea. wanna join?


View Profile
« Reply #15 on: August 28, 2016, 04:41:46 AM »

If I were songwriter, the answers would be:

"Do you write a consistent way all the time, or does it vary?" - Consistent. I think my songs would be very banal & musically very samey.
"Music before lyrics, lyrics before music or simultaneously?" - Music before, definitely. The other way round is very difficult.
"Do you sit down and decide "now is the time to write," or just do it when the spirit strikes you?" - The latter, maybe. Though maybe plan too.
"Do you prefer to be left alone or to work with someone else?" - Alone. working with smb. means to share the royalties.
"Do you write entire songs, or in bits and pieces?" - Can't say for sure, maybe both.
"Do you arrange while you write, or leave that for later?" - Not arrange but the arranging ideas could be during the writing.
"From where do you tend to get inspiration?" - From what's played frequently. I'd think it'd be very tough to create authentictm stuff, esp. today. It seems everything, every pattern was made before. That said, the BBs wouldn't be inspiration. It isn't easy to record harmony bits imo.  I wouldn't even double-track.
"Do you censor yourself in any way, and if so, how?" - To my mind, writing songs just about anything, freestyle isn't right. The listeners might be offended & you'll lose the fans. Me, I wouldn't write anything bad.
Logged

Short notice: the cat you see to the left is the best. Not counting your indoor cat who might have habit sitting at your left side when you post at SmileySmile.

Frightful Bulldog Wrinkly Mug Club's Band

Fabulous people can be divided into 3 categories - cat fans, dog fans, people fans. Just people can be divided into 3 categories - people fans, dog fans, cat fans.
gfx
Pages: [1] Go Up Print 
gfx
Jump to:  
gfx
Powered by SMF 1.1.21 | SMF © 2015, Simple Machines Page created in 0.194 seconds with 21 queries.
Helios Multi design by Bloc
gfx
Powered by MySQL Powered by PHP Valid XHTML 1.0! Valid CSS!