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songwriting question

The Sandman 20 Apr 09 - 04:20 AM
Peace 20 Apr 09 - 04:41 AM
breezy 20 Apr 09 - 04:44 AM
Spleen Cringe 20 Apr 09 - 04:48 AM
The Sandman 20 Apr 09 - 05:07 AM
Sailor Ron 20 Apr 09 - 05:19 AM
VirginiaTam 20 Apr 09 - 05:21 AM
The Sandman 20 Apr 09 - 05:32 AM
BobKnight 20 Apr 09 - 05:33 AM
Hawker 20 Apr 09 - 05:39 AM
Georgiansilver 20 Apr 09 - 01:25 PM
sharyn 20 Apr 09 - 01:39 PM
Amos 20 Apr 09 - 01:45 PM
breezy 20 Apr 09 - 01:54 PM
Georgiansilver 20 Apr 09 - 02:49 PM
Tim Leaning 20 Apr 09 - 03:03 PM
Nehi 20 Apr 09 - 05:42 PM
Jeri 20 Apr 09 - 05:54 PM
Tim Leaning 20 Apr 09 - 06:28 PM
GUEST,Guest from Sanity 20 Apr 09 - 09:15 PM
Songbob 21 Apr 09 - 02:49 PM
High Hopes (inactive) 21 Apr 09 - 02:53 PM
SPB-Cooperator 21 Apr 09 - 04:18 PM
Joe Offer 21 Apr 09 - 04:29 PM
Peace 21 Apr 09 - 04:35 PM
Jerry Rasmussen 21 Apr 09 - 04:49 PM
Diva 21 Apr 09 - 04:56 PM
Jerry Rasmussen 21 Apr 09 - 05:03 PM
Jeri 21 Apr 09 - 05:10 PM
Nehi 21 Apr 09 - 05:29 PM
Eve Goldberg 21 Apr 09 - 07:13 PM
GUEST,mg 21 Apr 09 - 07:26 PM
mg 21 Apr 09 - 09:46 PM
Ebbie 21 Apr 09 - 11:28 PM
mkebenn 21 Apr 09 - 11:37 PM
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Subject: songwriting question
From: The Sandman
Date: 20 Apr 09 - 04:20 AM

just curious.
do most songwriters wrte lyrics and tune together ,or lyrics first ,or tune first.


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Subject: RE: songwriting question
From: Peace
Date: 20 Apr 09 - 04:41 AM

Yes.



Now the wise-assed answer is out of the way, and despite not being quite sure whether I'd be seen as a songwriter in the UK, (or anywhere else for that matter), when I do write songs it's a combo of the two. On one or two occasions I have written the lyrics first--but not more often than that. For me, it seems to be a simultaneous 'fusion' of the two.

Bruce


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Subject: RE: songwriting question
From: breezy
Date: 20 Apr 09 - 04:44 AM

ask a songwriter, Harvey Andrews has been doing it a while as has Eric Bogle, even George Papavgeris is available for consultation ,

come on Dick its perm 1 from 3

Rock em up at the Abbey, regards to King Heraud


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Subject: RE: songwriting question
From: Spleen Cringe
Date: 20 Apr 09 - 04:48 AM

When I used to do it, I usually started out with a phrase or two and a bit of a melody that seemed to float out of the ether (or more often was later found to be subconsciously nicked and therefore was usually jettisoned by the time the song was finished). What came next depended on whether I had my tune head on, my words head on or more usually my brain-grinding-to-a-halt head on. Great fun, but the end results were often a bit bobbins.

Unlike Peace who definitely is a songwriter. It's some of the other things he isn't...

Anyway, why are we talking about song writing on a show tunes and talent show website?


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Subject: RE: songwriting question
From: The Sandman
Date: 20 Apr 09 - 05:07 AM

Breezy ,I have written a few myself.
The point of this is not to consult anyone in particular.
but to see how [those who wish to participate in this discussion]other songwriters approach it.
BVreezy ,I am not in the business of pestering songwriting people by email.


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Subject: RE: songwriting question
From: Sailor Ron
Date: 20 Apr 09 - 05:19 AM

As a 'wordsmith' I can't 'do' tunes [I've only ever composed one & I'm not sure about that one!] I leave the music to 'clever' folk who can do that. I always work to a traditional tune [in my head] then pass the words over, without indicating the tune I've 'used'. Having several tunesmiths who do the job this works for me.   Ron


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Subject: RE: songwriting question
From: VirginiaTam
Date: 20 Apr 09 - 05:21 AM

Peace- I would say the same is true for my brother. When he was a teen I saw him a number of penning the words with chords over top in a little book he always carried.


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Subject: RE: songwriting question
From: The Sandman
Date: 20 Apr 09 - 05:32 AM

Breezy, its Lynn Heraud,and she is afine singer.ok moosh.


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Subject: RE: songwriting question
From: BobKnight
Date: 20 Apr 09 - 05:33 AM

I've done a few talks on songwriting and the first thing you are always asked is, does the tune come first or the words - my answer is both. Sometimes it's the tune sometimes it's the words and often they come together. I also add - don't question it, just be grateful that it's happening, and make the most it.

Don't believe that guy calling himself Peace - he's a great songwriter and would be recognised as such anywhere in the world, never mind the UK. :)


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Subject: RE: songwriting question
From: Hawker
Date: 20 Apr 09 - 05:39 AM

For me, I sometimes find a tune whirring round in my head that I then put words to, sometimes I find words buzzing in my head and put a tune to them sometimes the two come simultaneously. No hard and fast rule. Maybe some are better than others, but I dont think that any one way is better than another, its just how the mood takes me. The best songs I have written have been about those events in life that stirred me emotionally enough to want to write something as a statement about them.
Cheers, Lucy.


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Subject: RE: songwriting question
From: Georgiansilver
Date: 20 Apr 09 - 01:25 PM

Generally I get a tune... usually one line only..... in my head and fit some words to it. Then the four lines of tune seem to flow out and the words are forthwith written... HOWEVER. On given a lot of information on someones life and being asked to write a song about it... I wrote the words and hatched a tune later........ I don't think there is a definitive way to write songs, although I believe I did find it easier to write the words and add the tune.
Best wishes, Mike.


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Subject: RE: songwriting question
From: sharyn
Date: 20 Apr 09 - 01:39 PM

I echo what everyone else has said (either, both), but it's rarer for me to start with a melody than to start with words or to compose both together, which usually happens when I'm noodling around with an instrument. Sometimes I will write some words and a melody will play in my head. In my best songs after I start them the verses just roll out in the screen of my mind and I don't have to do anything but listen and write them down -- sometimes they keep going after I think I am finished with the song. In that case, I always incorporate them and am never sorry.

Sharyn


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Subject: RE: songwriting question
From: Amos
Date: 20 Apr 09 - 01:45 PM

It's an evolutionary mating process which goes back and forth between the two. One or the other may emerge first, but there's always multiple fittings and adjustments.

A


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Subject: RE: songwriting question
From: breezy
Date: 20 Apr 09 - 01:54 PM

OH oK capn sorry Aye Aye Capn

maybe your first posting left it open to many interpretations.

I do know who Lynn Herod is.

She is very fine interpreter of ballads. Some fairly long requiring much concentration as she might ask questions later.

terrific voice and an sense of humour that one doesnt get enough of

Very knowledgeable and talented

A mainstay of the Waltham Abbey folk club - which unfortunately coincides with The Herga and Tudor - in the big hall at the back of the legion which would be ideal for a Show of Hands concert

but you maybe in the smaller room

And m c of the biggest song circle this side of the ocean

I did book her and Pat once, at Windward, saw them at Redders, and Lynn with Keith 'disney' Kendrick   

then sadly, one day, we fell out.

Have agood gig


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Subject: RE: songwriting question
From: Georgiansilver
Date: 20 Apr 09 - 02:49 PM

Ok so here is the challenge.. Please write a song about the Harvest... the yearly harvest that arable farmers, cider makers, beer makers etc perform..... See how you actually go about it.. what comes first, the tune or the words???
Best wishes, Mike.


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Subject: RE: songwriting question
From: Tim Leaning
Date: 20 Apr 09 - 03:03 PM

Hi Mike...
Hows the burger king?
Find it harder,sorry more difficult,(you know who you are)to put tune to words usualy.
twiddle around with a tune and usually the words come.


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Subject: RE: songwriting question
From: Nehi
Date: 20 Apr 09 - 05:42 PM

This is kind of like asking an artist which he paints first...the tree or the water. It depends on which one strikes his fancy!

Same with songwriting. I may be playing a few chords on my guitar and some lyrics begin to fall into place. Other times, I may be thinking of a situation, say...like Mike said above...the harvest. That may lead to a line or two of lyrics...

The corn is in the crib and the hay is in the barn; The wood is neatly stacked to keep the family warm...

With those lyrics, I pick up my guitar and try to find a rhythm that feels right - using a simple I, IV, V chord progression. It's funny but most times it falls into place pretty easily.

After I get something that seems right, I'll go to the keyboard and try to fill in the rest of the song...

Hope this helps.

Good Luck Jim


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Subject: RE: songwriting question
From: Jeri
Date: 20 Apr 09 - 05:54 PM

I used to mostly write the words first and find a tune later. Those songs are pretty wordy and the tunes are OK, but not too exciting.

A couple times, I've written words to fit a tune. They were OK, but it was harder for me.

Lately, I'm trying to do both at once. The words are a bit less 'precious' and more economical, the tunes are decent. It's harder, I think, but it also seems to make for a better song. I suspect I just have to write a whole lot more songs to improve.


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Subject: RE: songwriting question
From: Tim Leaning
Date: 20 Apr 09 - 06:28 PM

A pirate wore an under shirt made of parrot feathers.
It was his har har har vest!


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Subject: RE: songwriting question
From: GUEST,Guest from Sanity
Date: 20 Apr 09 - 09:15 PM

Either way. Sometimes you might have a song poem, with no tune..and sometimes you have a tune with no lyrics....then one day, you try the two out together...sometimes it works..sometimes not. Sometimes when walking, a tune comes up with a repeating phrase..and you work it out from there....good luck


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Subject: RE: songwriting question
From: Songbob
Date: 21 Apr 09 - 02:49 PM

Songs come as they come, as the spirit moves, though sometimes circumstances determine which one you have the time or urge or leave to do first. For example, one of my most fertile periods of writing came when I had a daily commute on the DC Metro subway, and, guitar-playing being, shall we say, "unrecommended," I wrote words. Often with a tune in mind, but not always. Then when I'd get home, I'd try the tune out, chuck it and start a new one.

Sometimes my lyrics fell into such regular form that I could and did use the chorus of one song for the verse tune of another (totally unconsciously, of course) -- I had to change the newer one once I noticed the similarity. And sometimes that regularity was enough to chuck the whole lyric (it was obvious thjat no good tune could be made to follow that well-trodden scansion path, so banal was it).

I do have a problem when trying to make up tunes -- the first time through, it's new, the second time through parts of the new tune remind me of an existing song (usually not mine), and by the third time through, I'm playing that song, the pre-existing-not-mine song. I lose more good ideas that way. And I'm never clever enough to start a recording before I go through this process, since the spur of the moment is when I start playing, making preparation an after-thought.

I have found that ideas are the hard part, and the easy part, too. If you're trying to write a country-oid song, you can take any well-known phrase and make it your lyrical hook. I looked up above in the thread and saw that someone wrote "harder for me." OK, that's not an outstanding phrase, but here goes:

It's harder for me to forget you
Than it seems it is for you.
It's harder for me to make my mind up
And say the words, "We're through."
Falling in love was the easiest thing,
I'll tell you, you can take it from me.
So however hard it was on you,
It's harder for me.

That's pretty bad, and doesn't take a twist on the meaning of the words in the phrase (I could only think of something bawdy from the phrase "It's harder for me," so I went with maudlin instead), which is the more common "country" approach. I can produce a lyric pretty quickly, if I don't care what I write, but to get something good, the emotion should be deeper than the drivel I wrote up there.

Bob


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Subject: RE: songwriting question
From: High Hopes (inactive)
Date: 21 Apr 09 - 02:53 PM

Sometimes it's one way, sometimes it's t'other.


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Subject: RE: songwriting question
From: SPB-Cooperator
Date: 21 Apr 09 - 04:18 PM

For me usually the words have come first, ad it can be a total pain finding a tune that doesn't sound to contrived. On a rare occasions the tune came first, and sometimes a fragment of the words, eg a chorus came first, then the tune and the verses were written later, except of course parodies where the tune was already there.

Steve


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Subject: RE: songwriting question
From: Joe Offer
Date: 21 Apr 09 - 04:29 PM

What has always puzzled me, is the number of successful songwriting teams that have existed in the last century. I can think of a few form the 19th century, too. Who writes first, the lyricist or the composer? How much do they work together, and how much is independent?
I suppose the answer has already been posted - "it depends." Still, it seems so strange to me that pairs of individuals can be so successful at songwriting.

-Joe-


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Subject: RE: songwriting question
From: Peace
Date: 21 Apr 09 - 04:35 PM

Good observation, Joe.

I had the chance to co-write a song with Jeri last summer. She was great to work with, and a real joy to be around. As an incidental thing, her latest (I think it's her latest) is wonderful. I haven't heard the melody yet, but if the lyrics are anything to go by, she's written a real winner.

Anyway, we kinda stumbled around at first tryin' to get into a groove. After we found that, the rest went fairly quickly. I think the most difficult part is finding that groove and also finding the will to 'let go' of things. Folks who write together have to give each other 'creative' space. We were able to do that. Jeri should be an ambassador to some really tough posting. Her people skills are phenomenal. Hell, we worked on it for two days and the testament to her patience and fortitude is that I'm still alive.


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Subject: RE: songwriting question
From: Jerry Rasmussen
Date: 21 Apr 09 - 04:49 PM

Like most others who have posted, music and lyrics are organically one for me. That may depend on whether a songwriter "writes" songs on an instrument. I rarely do. If you're sitting around plunking on a banjo or picking out a new melody on guitar, then the song may flow from that. I'm usually driving my car, and so far I haven't gotten any melodies out of my steering wheel. I find it more free-wheeling (blame that one on Art Thieme) to write songs without an instrument. That way I'm not limited by whether or not I can comfortable play the tune on an instrument or figure out all the words. Plenty of time to deal with that after the song is written.


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Subject: RE: songwriting question
From: Diva
Date: 21 Apr 09 - 04:56 PM

Dunno really but I watched Phil Hare make one up on the spot last Friday at the Rollin Hills Folk Club Melrose.......the mans a genius makes it look so easy


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Subject: RE: songwriting question
From: Jerry Rasmussen
Date: 21 Apr 09 - 05:03 PM

Or figure out all the chords... not words...


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Subject: RE: songwriting question
From: Jeri
Date: 21 Apr 09 - 05:10 PM

Bruce, thank you. I'm really glad you managed to duck all those frying pans and knives because I really wouldn't do well in prison. Plus, I'd feel kinda bad.

Seriously, the letting go IS the hardest part. Say you have a line, and you're trying to come up with ONE word that will rhyme with the previous line and nothing you can think of makes any sense. The smart think is got throw out the first line, but it can be hard to do that. After all, you've been trying too hard for too long to just chuck it, but that's probably what you're going to have to do.


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Subject: RE: songwriting question
From: Nehi
Date: 21 Apr 09 - 05:29 PM

One element that seems to be missing from the posts so far is that songwriting is like anything else...hard work. Like Bob said above, sometimes it just happens and for those times thank your lucky gods! Most times, at least for me, the first time is too cliche'. In a typical song I may have a nugget or two that is worth keeping but most of the rest is garbage. After a few rewrites it begins to come together.

A lot depends on the genre as well. Trying to keep it relevant to today's audiences can be a real challenge. I seem to always migrate back to the 50's and 60's, be it blues, rock or country. If you're writing for yourself then that's ok, but if you are working to sell the song, that just don't cut it.

Takes a lot of hard work, and lots and lots of patience and practice, just like anything in life that's worth anything.


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Subject: RE: songwriting question
From: Eve Goldberg
Date: 21 Apr 09 - 07:13 PM

I find that songwriting goes in waves. If I set aside the time consistently, and allow myself to be in the songwriting headspace, without any pre-conceived ideas about what might come out of it, the ideas start coming. It's like exercising a muscle, or stretching. The more consistently you do it, the stronger and more flexible you get. And what starts to happen is that ideas start coming all the time, not just when I've consciously sat down to work on writing.

On the other hand, when I let other things get in the way and DON'T make the space for it, the ideas stop coming, or if they come they are more feeble and it feels like work to bring them out.

As for the music/lyrics question, I have had it happen in all different ways -- music first, lyrics first, a snatch of music and lyrics together. I tend to lean towards lyrics first, but some of the songs I am proudest of are ones where I started with a line of music and words together.

In my opinion, there is no one way that works for everyone-- part of your task as a songwriter is to find what works for YOU, and do that. Other people can give you ideas about the process, inspire you with their methods or creations, give constructive criticism on songs, etc. But you are the only one who can find the techniques that will work for you.


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Subject: RE: songwriting question
From: GUEST,mg
Date: 21 Apr 09 - 07:26 PM

Has anyone watched Wayne Brady of ?? Drew Carey et al. He is a genius. You could say write a spiritual..in 2 seconds he is singing one that would pass for original. Sing a Barney the Dinosaur song..bam. Sing a French love song..bang..He is awesome. None of the "rules" apply. So so people can do it on the spur of the moment. mg


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Subject: RE: songwriting question
From: mg
Date: 21 Apr 09 - 09:46 PM

I have sort of a prodome phase where I can tell that something is perking around..no words, no pictures, no tune, just the knowledge that something is working its way out of my fuzzy brain. But to me the most important thing is the words falling in the right place on the rhythm. Without that there is discomfort to my mind at least. mg


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Subject: RE: songwriting question
From: Ebbie
Date: 21 Apr 09 - 11:28 PM

I'm working on one right now. I know what I want to say -"it's not the going that worries me, it's what I'm leaving behind"- but I haven't come up with a decent tune yet; only have one line of it so far but then, I've picked up the guitar only once.

I did come up with a great title for a memoir or a journal though. It was at last Sunday's songwriting workshop at the Alaska Folk Festival:

"My Life Between the Covers"

I like it.


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Subject: RE: songwriting question
From: mkebenn
Date: 21 Apr 09 - 11:37 PM

I seem to catch a notion from somewhere, a pharse that intrests me. For me, never tune first. Mike


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