Jamming to write songs or writing songs separately from the band

popthree

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If you are interested in your songs being critiqued or someone to collaborate you might want to check out the Songstuff site.
I'm a member of that forum. There are a small handful of active members. Nice folks, but the forum is going through a lull in activity. Are you active there?
 

chris m.

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writing chord progressions is easy. Coming up with interesting grooves is also pretty easy, IMO.

Writing compelling melodies, hooks, and lyrics are all hard. I'm particularly bad at lyrics so the best songs
I've been involved with had the music written by me but the lyrics written by someone else.
 

Jim622

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I'm a member of that forum. There are a small handful of active members. Nice folks, but the forum is going through a lull in activity. Are you active there?

Yes they are. I remember 30 or more on at once. I’m trying to stay faithful.
 

studio

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writing chord progressions is easy. Coming up with interesting grooves is also pretty easy, IMO.

Writing compelling melodies, hooks, and lyrics are all hard. I'm particularly bad at lyrics so the best songs
I've been involved with had the music written by me but the lyrics written by someone else.

It's great to know your strengths and limitations.
This way you can partner up with others who
might teeter while you totter.

425_web-ere-seesaw-par116898.jpg
 

Rat City

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It really depends on the synergy of the people you are collaborating with, what methods work best.

If I have an idea, that I consider my baby. I would save it. Unless I’m asked, “Can we do that one?”

In the past, I have brought something of mine forward, and the other players want to change everything, before even attempting to learn it. Then, I end up not liking at all what is being done with it. To hell with that.
 

adjason

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sure is nothing wrong with jamming and trying to write around that- sounds like fun to me- maybe this is why artist have solo record and band records :)
 

drmordo

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When I play with a band, I write the songs alone. But I leave the arrangement and parts until I'm with the band.

We work out the arrangement together. Specifically, the way the song goes. For example "verse, verse, chorus, verse" or "chorus, verse, chorus, verse". I like to assemble the song together.

I let them develop their own part - I play with them because I like what they do, and I don't want to stifle it unless what they are doing is completely inappropriate, which rarely happens because I play with guys that I like to hear.
 

boxocrap

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How do you usually approach it when you’re in a band?

Years ago, my early bands would do a lot of songwriting from long jam sessions and kind of piece things together. That was when we were young and didn’t have a million other priorities like I do now. For about the last decade I’ve been mostly a solo musician, so I’ve written all my songs apart from a band.

I am just starting a band again and have a number of songs prepared. I met with the keyboard player (who is quite good) and it seemed like we weren’t really vibing on the prepared stuff (which he had access to before), but when we started jamming free form it took on a different sound and led to some cool ideas.

I guess I’m just not comfortable with assembling those jammy ideas into an actual song so that it doesn’t just sound like a jam session. It seems foreign to me, but maybe it’ll come together the more we jam.
i could turn this into a book..ther's that much for me to say about it. i love jamming..for me it's the most creative thing there is in music..i don't sing ( as much as i may want to) . i had a situation at one time with two guys who were looking to jam ..i showed up we didn't say more than a few words to each other..i plugged in and we jammed for hrs only stopping to laugh our fool heads off at what we all knew was an incredible chemistry..sheer joy..and it was extremely good music. that went on for a few years we got so good at it ..people thought they were heavily rehearsed songs..the bass player dave gray and the drummer eric annible made me in to a 3 piece guitarist. dave (bass and singer with a great voice and main lyric writer) would record eveything and do a mix at home and have the other two over during the week at times to hear ourselves. it wasn't long before we had a padded warehouse offered to us and evry night we would be down there with dave's pa system. that system was about 3000 watts total not that we used all that power but it made the sound clear and separated the players so you could hear everyone without jumble and rumble..best music i ever played best musical experience i've ever had..no politics..no bs..no wife or girlfriend hassles no complaints...lot's of people started coming with lawn chairs and food booze etc ( especially etc) and it never got out of hand..the best times ever...hope this helps to show just how good it can be other than doing the "parts" to other folks tunes..pure creativity with a natural chemistry ..i think that's very rare and i'm glad i had that happen in my life. i hope other will experience something like that..maybe you..ok i'm done..hehe p.s. the other two guys moved away dave built himself ( he was/is a master carpenter) a 3500 sq ft log house with loft etc,somewhere out in the sticks and i never saw him or eric again..i also never got any copies of anything we did..shame too anyway..now i'm done
 
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Daddy Hojo

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I usually write alone, but rarely finish a whole song in one sitting. I'm really good at initial ideas, first verse and chorus, but then it gets exponentially harder as I try to write verse two and the bridge. I keep a notebook full of everything that I'm working on - in pencil - because it might change over time. I then take the ideas pieces to my bandmates to jam them out and see how they work and make sure that there isn't any kind of rhythm discrepancy between when we add the drums and bass into it. We usually start each session with a jam just to see where it goes. If it goes well, one of us will record it onto our voice memo app on an iPhone and share it with the rest of the group. I might take the ideas from the jam and write something using that as a basis for a new song. When I get really lucky, the jam/improv ideas might work on some unfinished orphan of a song that I've been kicking around for a while.
 

MilwMark

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We always come to the studio with chord progressions, melody and lyrics, and rough arrangement. Then we run it and everyone else figures out their parts, and we refine arrangement together. Works pretty well. Generates an album’s worth of material every year or so. When we have the scratch to record is another story.
 

schmee

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I write songs alone mostly. But it ain't all set in concrete. The band can help give it a certain feel sometimes with a few added rifs or licks.
My singer writes mostly lyrics and a few chords and I complete her songs for her usually with the group.
 

oregomike

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How do you usually approach it when you’re in a band?

Years ago, my early bands would do a lot of songwriting from long jam sessions and kind of piece things together. That was when we were young and didn’t have a million other priorities like I do now. For about the last decade I’ve been mostly a solo musician, so I’ve written all my songs apart from a band.

I am just starting a band again and have a number of songs prepared. I met with the keyboard player (who is quite good) and it seemed like we weren’t really vibing on the prepared stuff (which he had access to before), but when we started jamming free form it took on a different sound and led to some cool ideas.

I guess I’m just not comfortable with assembling those jammy ideas into an actual song so that it doesn’t just sound like a jam session. It seems foreign to me, but maybe it’ll come together the more we jam.
It goes both ways in my current band. We have some great jam sessions that we listen back to and, at times go, "this is good. We need to flesh this out." Other times, and because I do a lot of writing on my own, I'll bring skeletons of things I've worked on and recorded through my DAT. I'll give the guys the key and specific changes, etc. and it's fun to see where it goes. If I'm not feeling good about where it's going, but am attached to the song, I'll just keep it for myself and work it out alone, but it's really rewarding to me when it takes on a spin that everyone really digs.
 

Beebe

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-Present riff or riffs at practice
-Drummer comes up with parts
-Record it
-Other guitarist comes up with parts at home
-Work on structure together at next practice
-Bassist comes up with parts while working on structure together

EDIT (forgot the singer. ha!)

-Record it with second guitar and bass
-singer jams on it with jibberish at practice
-singer writes lyrics at home
-work on structural changes at the singer's request at practice

We record practice with the iZotope Spire and share files on Dropbox.
 
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Jakedog

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I write entirely on my own. I will help somebody else with a song of theirs, IF, and only if, they ask for my help. Nobody else works on mine. I’ve tried, it never works. Even with a couple of pretty revered songwriters I’ve known, I just didn’t like where *my* songs were going once they got involved. So I just don’t do it.

Now this is strictly from a lyrical and melody standpoint. Musically I’m more open minded. I only write with an acoustic guitar. I subscribe to the idea that all the instrumentation in the world is just icing. My philosophy is that if the song doesn’t accomplish it’s purpose, and isn’t strong enough to carry itself with just one voice and one instrument, then it’s a weak song and should get round-filed immediately.

I will often write something, and then bring it to the band. I don’t tell them what parts to play. I very much enjoy seeing how they interpret my plain Jane solo vocal/guitar approach. They sometimes come up with stuff I never would have heard in my head in terms of bass lines and drum grooves. Sometimes what they come up with requires a tempo adjustment. Arrangements can take on a life of their own. Things like that. It can make for a fun collaboration, and let’s them be part of the creative process without splitting actual songwriting credit up, and all of the headaches (and heartache) that can go along with that.

The other writer in the band does things the same way. He comes in with a bare bones tune, and we play what we want within reason.

I like this approach a lot, as we’re all adults and time is a hot commodity. Especially rehearsal time. I’m sure if we just decided to jam and come up with something we’d be great at it. But who’s got time for that? Coming into the practice with completed songs that everyone else just adds their parts to is a far more efficient and effective way of adding material to the set list, IMO.
 
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