Author Topic: SO-013 • Starting out writing songs  (Read 3914 times)

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Offline justinguitar

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Offline PattheBunny

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Re: SO-013 • Starting out writing songs
« Reply #1 on: February 20, 2012, 12:33:06 pm »
I am so going to do this...

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Offline Arnoz

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Re: SO-013 • Starting out writing songs
« Reply #2 on: October 25, 2012, 11:44:43 am »
I noticed that songs can set a mood, create an atmosphere and activate emotions. Like in classical music you can hear when a part sounds sad, happy, scary or epic. I'm having trouble making a song sound like how I feel. Is there a music theory that show which notes or chords, that are put after each other, can set a mood?
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Offline sophiehiker

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Re: SO-013 • Starting out writing songs
« Reply #3 on: October 25, 2012, 01:23:39 pm »

@Arnoz,  Music theory is more descriptive than predictive.  That is; it can tell you how a song was written, but it can't tell you how to write a song.

Do what the lesson suggests.  Find songs that you like and find out how they work.

If song writing consisted of using a formula, everybody would be doing it.   :)
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Offline shadowscott007

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Re: SO-013 • Starting out writing songs
« Reply #4 on: October 25, 2012, 01:50:17 pm »
Sophie is right.  But there are some general guidelines... GUIDELINES not rules, for the whole 'mood' thing.  Do not let them limit you, let them guide you.  If you manage to write a tune in with major chords, in major key, that sounds sad it doesn't matter if it goes against the general guidelines i'm about to list.

Major - bright, happy, upbeat
Minor - dark, sad, brooding, angry

If the tonal center is the:
I chord, Ionian, Major as above bright, happy, upbeat
ii chord, Dorian, jazzy
iii chord, Phrygian, spanish flamenco flavor
IV chord, Lydian, majestic, triumphant
V chord, Mixolydian, bluesy
vi chord, Aeolian, Minor as above dark, sad, brooding, angry
viib5, chord, Locrian, dissonant, out, weird, but i've never made this work

Again generalizations, guides, get broken all the time, probably more 'thinky' than creative BUT can help guide you if you are lost and grasping.

Shadow
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Offline Arnoz

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Re: SO-013 • Starting out writing songs
« Reply #5 on: October 25, 2012, 09:17:05 pm »
Guess you guys are right. I'm going to listen to songs with a little more focus. And those guidelines are a nice starting point. But i guess played different they can give a different mood. Like that Jaws tune being scary, but those two tones can also be used for the beginning for Fur Elise.

Thank you both for your help :)
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Offline PattheBunny

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Re: SO-013 • Starting out writing songs
« Reply #6 on: October 26, 2012, 01:42:24 am »
Sophie is right.  But there are some general guidelines... GUIDELINES not rules, for the whole 'mood' thing.  Do not let them limit you, let them guide you.  If you manage to write a tune in with major chords, in major key, that sounds sad it doesn't matter if it goes against the general guidelines i'm about to list.

Major - bright, happy, upbeat
Minor - dark, sad, brooding, angry

If the tonal center is the:
I chord, Ionian, Major as above bright, happy, upbeat
ii chord, Dorian, jazzy
iii chord, Phrygian, spanish flamenco flavor
IV chord, Lydian, majestic, triumphant
V chord, Mixolydian, bluesy
vi chord, Aeolian, Minor as above dark, sad, brooding, angry
viib5, chord, Locrian, dissonant, out, weird, but i've never made this work

Again generalizations, guides, get broken all the time, probably more 'thinky' than creative BUT can help guide you if you are lost and grasping.

Shadow

This was a really cool post for me.  I have asked and asked musician friends what general rules describe various genres of music, and nobody so far has been able to give me an answer.  Maybe it's the wrong question, but I can tell you what makes a thriller, or a mystery or a love story in a book or film.   What makes a pop song?  Or a blues song?  Or a hard rock song?  What makes a love song, or an anthem, or an adventure song....   there probably isn't the same kind of categorization in music as in film or television.   But there has to be some sort of characterization in play when we listen to music.  Is it cultural?  Chinese versus Russian versus American.  Metal versus Folk.   I guess this interests me because of my background in story structure, but it might be a fool's interest.   However, if you are writing a love song isn't it helpful to know you likely should choose a major key, or a certain mode, or whatever?  I'm just askin.....



Pat
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Offline shadowscott007

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Re: SO-013 • Starting out writing songs
« Reply #7 on: October 26, 2012, 02:19:35 am »
Well production values and arrangement of the song can make a huge difference.  And there is a large cultural aspect involved as well.

Arrangement, want to make a song sound countryish?  Have the bass player start to play root five root five walk to next root five root five etc.  Bass player in the old band would do that all the time when we were playing a cover we had played a zillion times.  Just that and all of a sudden Takin' Care of Business started sounding downright hoedownish.  If the drummer went into his country beat yeehaw!  Different styles are associated with different 'tricks'; reggae the chord stabs on the upbeats, hard rock metal the chug on the tonal center with synchopated chord stabs. 

Culturally from childhood we in the west are bombarded with western music.  I watched bugs bunny when I was a kid, that was basically an introductory course in classical music appreciation.  A lot of the sound tracks where by classical composers.  To this day I cannot listen to the William Tell Overture and not think of the lone ranger.

It really limits my ability to listen to the music from other cultures.  I mean the western 12 tone equal tempered music system isn't the only one out there, but I have been programmed such that I find say, traditional Japanese music almost unbearable to.listen to.  I am NOT saying it is bad, I am saying based on my cultural programming I find it unpleasant to my ear.

Anyway all that poo adds up to why the list is a guideline, based on western classical music, doesn't really account for all the arranging and production tricks that can be applied to if not invalidate them can at least blur the lines between them.  That is the art.  Learn the 'rules' so you can forget them, play from the heart or the soul and only pull in the head if you need to or want to.

In art (and maybe in life) the heart and soul should rule the head not the other way around; but train the head well so it makes a good servant.

Wow, Pat you awakened my inner philosopher.  Love this forum.

Shadow

P.S. I write my love songs in minor keys, loves lost and unrequited, bittersweet... which now that i think about it is odd because i'm a sucker for a happy ending.
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Offline Dr Winterbourne

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Re: SO-013 • Starting out writing songs
« Reply #8 on: October 26, 2012, 06:32:26 am »
With happy endings...

I play Boys of Summer in Eminor,, but if I finish with an E minor chord it sounds unresolved somehow, so I end on a G. But the G makes it sound like a happy ending, too happy.

But I always thought Pretty Woman would be better if SPOILERS they just went on with their lives separately.
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Offline PattheBunny

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Re: SO-013 • Starting out writing songs
« Reply #9 on: October 26, 2012, 09:44:07 am »
Well production values and arrangement of the song can make a huge difference.  And there is a large cultural aspect involved as well.

Arrangement, want to make a song sound countryish?  Have the bass player start to play root five root five walk to next root five root five etc.  Bass player in the old band would do that all the time when we were playing a cover we had played a zillion times.  Just that and all of a sudden Takin' Care of Business started sounding downright hoedownish.  If the drummer went into his country beat yeehaw!  Different styles are associated with different 'tricks'; reggae the chord stabs on the upbeats, hard rock metal the chug on the tonal center with synchopated chord stabs. 

Culturally from childhood we in the west are bombarded with western music.  I watched bugs bunny when I was a kid, that was basically an introductory course in classical music appreciation.  A lot of the sound tracks where by classical composers.  To this day I cannot listen to the William Tell Overture and not think of the lone ranger.

It really limits my ability to listen to the music from other cultures.  I mean the western 12 tone equal tempered music system isn't the only one out there, but I have been programmed such that I find say, traditional Japanese music almost unbearable to.listen to.  I am NOT saying it is bad, I am saying based on my cultural programming I find it unpleasant to my ear.

Anyway all that poo adds up to why the list is a guideline, based on western classical music, doesn't really account for all the arranging and production tricks that can be applied to if not invalidate them can at least blur the lines between them.  That is the art.  Learn the 'rules' so you can forget them, play from the heart or the soul and only pull in the head if you need to or want to.

In art (and maybe in life) the heart and soul should rule the head not the other way around; but train the head well so it makes a good servant.

Wow, Pat you awakened my inner philosopher.  Love this forum.

Shadow

P.S. I write my love songs in minor keys, loves lost and unrequited, bittersweet... which now that i think about it is odd because i'm a sucker for a happy ending.

See Shadow that was more information than I've gotten from anyone so far.   I also love this forum.   I think that ryhthm is probably a lot of genre in music.   My friend is a jazz guitarist and he told me that he thinks when you write you pretty much have no choice about what comes out of you, it all depends on what went in for all the years your ears were open.  "We were ruined by Montovani" he says.   I haven't actually ever listened to Montovani and I'm a little younger than him.  But the idea gets me thinking... be careful what you listen to, at least over and over again.  And in elevators.

Pat
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Offline Arnoz

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Re: SO-013 • Starting out writing songs
« Reply #10 on: October 26, 2012, 12:42:00 pm »
But the idea gets me thinking... be careful what you listen to, at least over and over again.  And in elevators.

Maybe that's why it's so hard for me write a song. The song I'm writing is kinda of a slow song. I have been listing to the fast-pasted styles of rock and metal for most of my life. I just recently gained a appreciation for ballads and other slow genres. I guess i just need to spend more time listing to those kind of songs. So get a better feeling for it. :P
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Offline shadowscott007

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Re: SO-013 • Starting out writing songs
« Reply #11 on: October 26, 2012, 04:09:14 pm »
In the interest of full disclosure I started using those guidelines as a tool for soloing, transcribing solo's, and faking solos.  And mostly in the rock area - light, classic, hard, metal, or power ballad stuff.

For many of those kinds of songs the solo section can be very loosely defined in terms of key/mode.  Yeah you have a tonal center, and you can kinda tell its minor, but it sounds "insert adjective here".  I found that the above guidelines helped me either get a head start transcribing the solo, or copping the feel of the solo (if the feel is smoky or jazzy try dorian).  So I do have some experience that they at least aren't completely wrong.

However, I was extrapolating my experience in the fairly narrow application of getting the vibe for a solo improv a certain way out into the much broader scope of a song as a whole.  Which while intimately related is still a different beast.

Shadow

P.S.  Is this still on topic?  I'm starting to think I may be getting a bit "out there" in terms of what the original intent of this thread was.  If so I apologize.
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Offline PattheBunny

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Re: SO-013 • Starting out writing songs
« Reply #12 on: November 12, 2012, 08:19:01 pm »
In the interest of full disclosure I started using those guidelines as a tool for soloing, transcribing solo's, and faking solos.  And mostly in the rock area - light, classic, hard, metal, or power ballad stuff.

For many of those kinds of songs the solo section can be very loosely defined in terms of key/mode.  Yeah you have a tonal center, and you can kinda tell its minor, but it sounds "insert adjective here".  I found that the above guidelines helped me either get a head start transcribing the solo, or copping the feel of the solo (if the feel is smoky or jazzy try dorian).  So I do have some experience that they at least aren't completely wrong.

However, I was extrapolating my experience in the fairly narrow application of getting the vibe for a solo improv a certain way out into the much broader scope of a song as a whole.  Which while intimately related is still a different beast.

Shadow

P.S.  Is this still on topic?  I'm starting to think I may be getting a bit "out there" in terms of what the original intent of this thread was.  If so I apologize.

It's on topic for me at least.  I just picked up my guitar and played with your ideas.  I guess I can hear some of them, the majestic or triumphant or anthemy feeling of the IV chord and the happy go lucky I as the tonal center.  The others I have less clarity over.  I am interested in the diminished chords just because they sound so strange, but I ain't going there anytime soon.   

I do think that knowing theory is helpful to growing as an artist but it's so hard to learn when you've only been playing a couple of years and don't come with a "math" brain.  You have to build all these new pathways in your brain.  But I am addicted so I'm not going to give it up.     I really think in a way that we become addicted to music because it offers a form of anticipation and release that our brain likes as well as, well, intimate relations.    Now we're off topic.

Pat (what do you expect from a rabbit?)
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Offline NeilMack

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Re: SO-013 • Starting out writing songs
« Reply #13 on: November 29, 2012, 01:47:58 am »
Hello,

  My name is Neil. I would like to start writing some songs on the guitar. I have no trouble learning other songs (unless too advanced as I am intermediate) or writing some riffs. But when I want to put a song together instrumentally or with words, I seem to get stuck. Nothing sounds the way I had it in my head (which sucks). I have great ideas and they go to waste because I can't get it out of my head and on to the guitar and in the air. I think a lesson should be on the site about some tricks of going about writing sections of a song based on a riff or intro that has been written. Or on how to put music to words.
  Do I have to work on more theory to be able to do this, or do I need to work on my ears and singing it first and then finding the notes on the guitar (as said in the Justin interview with Steve Vai)?
  Any help on this would be appreciated. Thank you in advance!!!

  And in addition, I would love to see some stuff in how to write in alternate tunings!

  And this doesn't have anything to do with songwriting but I how do I do these picture puzzles that make me take 20 min to post this.
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Offline Dr Winterbourne

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Re: SO-013 • Starting out writing songs
« Reply #14 on: November 29, 2012, 06:40:19 pm »
Learn to transcribe.

When transcribing, you hear songs on the stereo and find the notes on the guitar.

This skill will let you hear songs in your head, and then find them on the guitar.

IMHO
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