Song construction

Discussion in 'MyMusic Forum' started by FireFunkRevival, Aug 4, 2021.

  1. FireFunkRevival

    FireFunkRevival Strat-O-Master

    Messages:
    633
    Joined:
    Feb 17, 2021
    Location:
    Pennsylvania
    Just wondering what your process is for writing songs. Not really trying to put any restrictions on this as to what process I'm referring to but do you lay bass down then guitar? Start with a beat in your head then lay down guitar? Intro, verse, chorus, verse, bridge, chorus, ender? What is your process from start to finish?
     
    floydrose likes this.
  2. Dadocaster

    Dadocaster Dr. Stratster

    Messages:
    25,469
    Joined:
    Mar 15, 2015
    Location:
    Sachse TX behind the cemetary
    For writing or recording?

    I wrote 10 songs in 50 years and then 50 in the last 5. What changed? Switched from working from guitar parts to writing some lyrics first. If you get a hook, a phrase, a verse it immediately suggests genre, temp, melody. Keep a line of lyrics on loop in your head and shortly you will start hearing drums and guitar and maybe bass. At that point I usually fart around on guitar or bass and maybe record bones of the idea over a simple drum loop.

    After that you just write more work on structure.
     
  3. Kerry Brown

    Kerry Brown Senior Stratmaster

    Messages:
    1,122
    Joined:
    Mar 5, 2014
    Location:
    BC, Canada
    I write down every idea and snippet of lyrics. I try out different music and record it, even if it's just a couple of lines. I go back to it often trying different musical ideas. Sometimes in a few days the song comes to me. Sometimes a year later the snippet fits into a different song. Sometimes you are playing something totally unrelated and all of a sudden you realize those lyrics you wrote two years ago would make a good chorus with whatever progression you are playing tight now.
     
    velvet_man and FireFunkRevival like this.
  4. sssstratsss

    sssstratsss Strat-O-Master

    Messages:
    756
    Joined:
    Dec 6, 2017
    Location:
    Planet Namek
    Following because I never finish anything. I have a bunch of cool riffs, but making actual songs is hard.
     
  5. Howard Emerson

    Howard Emerson Strat-Talker Gold Supporting Member

    Age:
    70
    Messages:
    131
    Joined:
    Sep 20, 2019
    Location:
    Huntington Station, NY
    I write the guitar arrangement first and foremost, and the fact is that I ALWAYS have a groove happening with my instrumentals whether they're a waltz or a half-time shuffle. I've been a frustrated drummer & bassist for my entire life, so I work with it.

    If it's going to have lyrics, THAT fact will expose itself very early on in the process, and it's never a welcomed thing in my case because writing lyrics is like pulling teeth for me, but I've learned to just bite down hard, get out the yellow pad and a pencil with a good eraser, or just use a pen and keep ripping off the old sheets until the page is filled with something I'm okay with.

    My instrumentals have almost always had song structure with hooks, verse, chorus & bridge, so that's what I write to WHEN I'm compelled/forced to lyricize my musical ideas.

    Not that you asked, but here's my most recent example, the title track from my newest, The Rhytalin Kid, an autobiographical piece. Basically I played to a click, did all the instrumental tracks (1 fingerstyle track, 1 bottleneck track) and then I found a drum 'loop' that was available with 8 different mic'd tracks. We flew in a conga loop from an earlier track I'd done.

    https://soundcloud.app.goo.gl/jRBXbtvGLRFDzUqt5

    Enjoy,
    Howard Emerson
     
    Last edited: Aug 5, 2021
  6. nigelr

    nigelr Senior Stratmaster

    Messages:
    1,732
    Joined:
    Aug 28, 2014
    Location:
    Switzerland
    I always start writing just on guitar or piano.

    When I record I work out the tempo and find some drum loops, or make my own, and layout the whole song. Then I add the guide guitar so I can check the drums are correct (fills etc). Bass guitar and keyboards (if required) come next.

    The vocals followed by backing vocals. Guitar tracks come next.
    Then I normally play around with the drums again and always finish with the guitar solo, or outro solo.

    Mixing as I go, when the guitar solo is done then the song is finished.
     
    FireFunkRevival likes this.
  7. FireFunkRevival

    FireFunkRevival Strat-O-Master

    Messages:
    633
    Joined:
    Feb 17, 2021
    Location:
    Pennsylvania
    Love it. Thank you.
     
  8. FireFunkRevival

    FireFunkRevival Strat-O-Master

    Messages:
    633
    Joined:
    Feb 17, 2021
    Location:
    Pennsylvania

    Thanks. I meant for both recording and writing.
     
  9. Dadocaster

    Dadocaster Dr. Stratster

    Messages:
    25,469
    Joined:
    Mar 15, 2015
    Location:
    Sachse TX behind the cemetary
    The two functions are mixed together. I do a rough recording very early in the process but it is never part of the full recording for release. I do really like to get SOMETHING recorded. Then I polish up and get my drummer to listen to it and threaten not to pay his tuition if he doesn't do a drum track and then I track the rest myself.
     
    cranky and FireFunkRevival like this.
  10. amstratnut

    amstratnut Peace thru Music.

    Messages:
    20,869
    Joined:
    Dec 1, 2009
    Location:
    My house.
    Im a fan of writing a song around a simple catchy chorus phrase.

    For exapmple:

    "She doesnt like you"

    Or

    "Another bad date"

    Or

    "Hey now!"
     
    cranky and FireFunkRevival like this.
  11. Dadocaster

    Dadocaster Dr. Stratster

    Messages:
    25,469
    Joined:
    Mar 15, 2015
    Location:
    Sachse TX behind the cemetary
    A good enough hook and the song will write itself.
     
    FireFunkRevival and amstratnut like this.
  12. ido1957

    ido1957 Senior Stratmaster

    Messages:
    3,035
    Joined:
    Oct 13, 2014
    Location:
    Canada
    Everybody's got their own way of writing, so whatever works for you is best.

    When I was still writing solo I started with lyrics. When I co-wrote, the other guy always started with the music, so I adapted.
     
    FireFunkRevival likes this.
  13. Seamus OReally

    Seamus OReally Mr. Serious Gold Supporting Member

    Age:
    65
    Messages:
    5,181
    Joined:
    Feb 11, 2019
    Location:
    Santa Rosa, CA
    My best songs got written mostly in my head, away from a guitar or piano.
     
  14. Dadocaster

    Dadocaster Dr. Stratster

    Messages:
    25,469
    Joined:
    Mar 15, 2015
    Location:
    Sachse TX behind the cemetary
    I have family all over Texas and those long drives nearly always gave me a song.
     
  15. fezz parka

    fezz parka fezz parka

    Age:
    62
    Messages:
    32,353
    Joined:
    Apr 21, 2011
    Location:
    Ticket Booth at the JWPL
    Yep. Especially when I'm driving.
    Everything comes away from an instrument. Sometimes in parts.

    Then I sit down and write it. Decide the form and arrangement. Then I record it. :)
     
    FireFunkRevival likes this.
  16. pazman6

    pazman6 Senior Stratmaster

    Messages:
    1,648
    Joined:
    May 28, 2014
    Location:
    Prairieville, Louisiana
    I typically start with some random drum patterns in the DAW to generate ideas, which I noodle with until I come up with a guitar riff/chord set that works for me. I then build out the whole drum track in midi and record the guitars, then the bass. I usually add vocals and lead guitar last. Occasionally I will go back and record live midi drums or real drum depending on the song, my motivation, and current state of my studio. I normally write lyrics after the song is structured to fit the theme of how I hear the music. I do come up with lyric ideas randomly and try to write them down for future use, but I typically struggle with the lyrics. I would say 90% of my recordings had lyrics written after recording the music. Every now and then I will write a song for lyrics I wrote down during one of those creative moments on the ****ter.............
     
    velvet_man and FireFunkRevival like this.
  17. FireFunkRevival

    FireFunkRevival Strat-O-Master

    Messages:
    633
    Joined:
    Feb 17, 2021
    Location:
    Pennsylvania
    Thanks everyone. Good stuff. Any additional thoughts would be greatly appreciated.
     
    Last edited: Aug 4, 2021
  18. Seamus OReally

    Seamus OReally Mr. Serious Gold Supporting Member

    Age:
    65
    Messages:
    5,181
    Joined:
    Feb 11, 2019
    Location:
    Santa Rosa, CA
    I should have noted that when I do sit down and start working things out, it's almost always on the piano. Easier to get at the harmonic ideas on a keyboard.
     
    fezz parka and FireFunkRevival like this.
  19. piripak

    piripak Strat-Talk Member

    Messages:
    10
    Joined:
    Aug 3, 2015
    Location:
    London
    I really recomend Jeff Tweedy book "How to write one song"
     
    FireFunkRevival likes this.
  20. FireFunkRevival

    FireFunkRevival Strat-O-Master

    Messages:
    633
    Joined:
    Feb 17, 2021
    Location:
    Pennsylvania
    I will check that book and try some on my daughter's piano.