I've actually been recording a song recently. The style is not something I work in a lot or ever for that sake. It's part of an ongoing discussion about how songs are actually written. But at least it broke me out of my shell of talking music more then actually doing something about it.
The medium has been the real struggle. I've had more problems recording to software daws then doans has pills. I got tired of the fanboy rhetoric and decided I'd go old school with the production work. Dusted off my crusty but trusty yamaha aw16 recorder and found out I don't have the proper cables from my computer for my drum and synth stuff. Those are on order.
How songs are written has always been kind of a mystery to me. I always picture the key members of a band sitting in a room and collaborating but who goes first? Do the lyrics have to be written before the melody? Is it something done in unison?
Well I'm an instrumentalist now. I haven't written a song with lyrics since the mid 80's
It's never written in the order you hear it. For vocal and actually instrumental songs the chorus is always the first thing written because it's the most memorable.
When two people write lets say Mick and Keith. One will have the initial idea and the other will follow. What they are looking for is the rhythmic impulse and a sense of key.
So lets say Keith comes up with a strumming pattern. Sometimes Mick will be able to sing a melody line on top of it and sometimes Keith will have to hum it out. If you sing blah blah blah. Long enough the mumblings can sound like actual words. What they are looking for first is... the rhythmic mode. A rhythmic mode is not the actual notes high or low but how they are phrased rhythmically. Rhythmic patterns are everywhere. It's in the way we speak. How we group words together when speaking in complete sentences. It doesn't have to be contrived like Iambic pentameter or irish limickss which is oddly borrowed quite heavily in hiphop. Check out how
So if you take... Beethoven's 5th symphony and just try to drum what you here you'll here the rhythmic mode of a piece. It's the "groove" that one builds the rest of the parts around.
There are two parts that define a song after that. Harmony and melody. One can write a chord progression first and then graft the melody to the chords or one can write the melody first and try to match up chords that will work with it.
Guitarists generally strum chords until something pops into their head that melodically fits what they are playing. Pianist do this as well. Usually once you get the first chord down much of the rest will follow naturally. If they aren't you can go for a stock "progression". there are close to 70 "Twelve Bar (meausre) Blues" progressions. 70x12(keys) gives you 840 different options before you include tempo and rhythmic mode or groove. That's a lot to pull out of your hat if you're bored and looking for something different. There are also 8 bar and 16 bar blues standard progressions and several jazz, rock, pop, metal and other varieties as well. It's pretty easy to pick two out of a hat (rhythm and progression) and form a song. If you've ever had any time playing progressions from songs it's also pretty easy to construct a progression. That being said there is nothing new under the sun in as far as progressions and if you are really reaching for creativity you may find it's too obtuse for writing over.
So... you get the idea it's not that hard to write a song if you have the progression in front of you.
And the B plan is to write the melody and try to figure out what chords you are going to use to support it. This is the way Paul McCartney, Irving Berlin and several others operate. (usually those with a lot of talent but little education) They'll play the melody listen to the more important notes and align them to chords.
The rest of it,,,the bassline, secondary rhythm instruments backing instruments all work from the progression.
These days it's very very hard for me to just be imaginative and let myself be lead by whatever's on my mind because Pachelbel follows me too. It's not just Pachelbel I've played so many songs and during the writing process. I'll think...Hey that sounds nice but it sounds like something I know. And then I'll be caught up in trying to learn the song it sounds like rather then being able to move on and just write.
Haven't written many songs, though I always felt I ought to have done. When my guitar partner and our wives went to Cornwall in the summer we saw a sign saying 'Only Jesus Can Mend a Broken Heart'. That night, in the rented cottage by the sea, we thought maybe Love could do the trick just as well. So with a bottle or three of Rioja we came up with this: Only Love can Mend a Broken Heart
Thanks Frets, appreciate that.
Playing more often now that at any time since I started playing in the mid 60s, and loving it. Got a gig at our local museum in a few weeks - hope they let us back out and don't mistake us for exhibits.
Let's see... recently married, living in-between the US and Jamaica, having to replace 90% of my income since the market is plummeting in a way that even I couldn't imagine, but still living life, still can't play one musical instrument to save my life, still firing up Photoshop, Flash (yeah, felt weird, but still do it out of habit), Flex (can't avoid that)... but using Illustrator less it seems.
Anyway, thought I'd pop in, lurk less, didn't see anybody that warranted banning.