Keys to being a song writer?

Discussion in 'Sidewinders Bar & Grille' started by mikej89, Jul 30, 2020 at 11:53 PM.

  1. mikej89

    mikej89 Senior Stratmaster

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    Hey everyone,

    I know a lot of you guitarists aren't really songwriters but for those of us who are, I'm curious what you think the keys to a great song are... I'm definitely just a novice songwriter but from my personal experience with music the 2 main keys to a good song are:

    1) Conviction. It's not about the notes or changes, it's about how you make those notes or changes count with convition.

    2) Textures. Basically every classic song you've ever heard on the radio is masterfully produced. It's produced in a way that creates effective music textures that sound good on the ears which is mostly due to good layering...

    What do you guys think?
     
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  2. Antstrat

    Antstrat Senior Stratmaster

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    Delivery, was it phoned in or can you hear a bit of the singers soul.
     
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  3. Jason D

    Jason D Senior Stratmaster

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    I think conviction is very important also.

    I don’t think there is a set list of things that make a song good. Is it lyrics? Not really, otherwise JS Bach wouldn’t have a following. Is it a certain number of chords? Nope, otherwise Wreckless Eric wouldn’t be awesome. Production? If so, Bad Brains wouldn’t have had such an impact on me.

    I also think there’s a ton of songs out there that are fantastic, but need to be played by someone else to truly become great. All Along the Watchtower is a perfect example (not that Dylan did a bad job).

    the difference between a good song and a bad song is an incredibly thin line.
     
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  4. Blackmore Fan

    Blackmore Fan Senior Stratmaster

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    To me the key is "tension".

    Does the music itself invoke tension...is there a switch between major and minor chords? If its solely one or the other, do the lyrics betray the singularity of the music...is there something about the story that invokes tension? And if not, is there so much energy that the conviction itself provokes tension...as in "How can anyone be this happy?"...or "how can anything be darker than this?". A bridge is a huge thing for me...it can take a song into someplace different from the regular verse/chorus. The resolution of the tension at some point serves as a release. The resolution can be as simple as a key change, or a tempo change. I think most great songs involve some sort of tension...and most of them involve a release at some point.
     
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  5. Jason D

    Jason D Senior Stratmaster

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    Your point about a song’s bridge is a great one. Can you imagine Dream Police without the bridge? It would just be another mediocre rock song without that orchestrated bridge arrangement.
     
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  6. Jason D

    Jason D Senior Stratmaster

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    Or Highway Star. Outstanding bridge on that song. Incredible actually.
     
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  7. Jason D

    Jason D Senior Stratmaster

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    The Replacements are a band to me that would be very boring if they didn’t deliver it like they mean it. A very average group of people can make some amazing music when they deliver it with feeling.
     
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  8. mjea80

    mjea80 Lost In The Light Strat-Talk Supporter

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    I think that dynamics play a key roll in producing and delivering a good song. Varying the volume is a good way to bring a listener into a song you are playing, especially if it is just and your acoustic.
     
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  9. Kerry Brown

    Kerry Brown Strat-O-Master

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    Everyone is concentrating on the music. I do too because I'm a musician. Most people i.e. your audience concentrate on the lyrics. Do they resonate? Do they tell a story? There is a reason there are not too many hit instrumentals. It is a conundrum for musician song writers.
     
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  10. Agtronic

    Agtronic Strat-O-Master

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    The real key to writing good music is that you have to do it all the time and keep doing it and doing it. It's something you have to work at to get good at, just like getting good at an instrument. If you've ever worked at computer programming for a decent amount of time, you know what it feels like to be submerged in a mindset that takes over. You find yourself thinking of solutions while making your morning coffee, you find yourself resolving complex issues while grocery shopping etc... that all consuming feeling of being actively engaged in a pursuit. It's the same with song writing. How did Lennon and McCartney write so many great songs? They did it every day for years and years in the early days. They worked very hard at it, and at an age when they had the creative fire burning in their souls. It's not to say you can't be creative at an older age, but I do believe it takes more effort to get into it when you're older, (than say 25 years old).

    The most common piece of advice I have received when I was trying to figure out what makes a good song writer is that you have to just let go and write anything that comes to mind. If you're always stopping yourself because it doesn't sound like your hero's song, you'll never get anywhere. So even if you think it's cheesey or boring or insincere, just put it down anyway and record it. It's in that repetition and exercise that your brain figures out what it likes and what it doesn't like and the next song will be better, and the next better ...
     
  11. soulman969

    soulman969 Strat-O-Master

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    Isn't all about being able to come with at least one single word that will rhyme with "orange". :D
     
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  12. gretev

    gretev Strat-Talker

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    I am fully on board with conviction. I have to believe the songwriter. That‘s almost all that matters. If the songwriter makes the listener feel like the songwriter believes and feels it that‘s the key. I can respect „crappy“ music of I feel the performer is feeling it.
     
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  13. 33db

    33db Senior Stratmaster

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  14. ToneRanger

    ToneRanger Most Honored Senior Member Strat-Talk Supporter

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    Practice - as in, constantly working on writing - even if the tune you write today a crap tune, lyric, whatever - you are still working out the mental and creative muscles.

    A lot of the great lyricists walk around with a pad in their pocket just for writing down ideas as they come - that's how "Money for Nothing" was written.
    Mark Knopfler was at a department store with his wife and overheard a couple of the delivery guys chatting as they watched the wall full of TV's playing an MTV video:
    "Look at them yo-yo's - that's the way you do it.
    Play that guitar on your MTV..."
    He just hung back listening and scribbled in his pad and boom - an idea for a brilliant song.

    And I swear Mark Knopfler writes lyrics while watching history documentaries - there have been several times when I've been watching something and thought, "Wait, Mark Knopfler wrote a song about this!"
     
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  15. nickmsmith

    nickmsmith Jaguar Convert Strat-Talk Supporter

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    yep. That is what sticks with people.

    Music nerds (i use that term with love) will focus on other things like technicality, because that is what they care about.

    but melody is what matters to the masses.

    Melody and catchiness. Something that makes it memorable.
     
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  16. JamieHenry

    JamieHenry Strat-Talker

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    Good songs aren't necessarily popular, and popular songs aren't necessarily good. A bad performance can ruin a good song, and good musicians can make a bad song sound okay. There's no one thing that makes your song "good" other than if it is good to you. A lot of the most influential songwriters absolutely did not care how things were supposed to be done.
     
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  17. Bowmap

    Bowmap I nose a thang or two Gold Member

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    Taking notes.
     
  18. Blackmore Fan

    Blackmore Fan Senior Stratmaster

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    Al Stewart is that way too.
     
  19. Seamus OReally

    Seamus OReally Senior Stratmaster Silver Member

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    The key to songwriting is the craft of fitting a well-written lyric to a melody that supports it emotionally, and devising harmony that enhances the message or feeling communicated by the lyric and melody. Just do that, and you’re golden. ;)
     
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  20. Bowmap

    Bowmap I nose a thang or two Gold Member

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    Are there any rules about structure? (I know rules do get broken.)