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Discussion in 'Bad Dog Cafe' started by johnny k, Apr 26, 2021.
The melody, could be an instrument or voice.
Writing a song with only three chords takes a lot of skill. There is nothing to hide behind, so you really have to get the lyrics right. Also, every bit if variation falls on the melody, so if that's not strong enough, you've got a bad song.
As an old jazz player, I find it pretty easy to come up with +7 chords. I try to challenge myself by using less. So far, 4 is the lowest I've managed, although I waited with the minor vi until the last bridge.
My friends told me you use too many chords, so i made a swampy song instrumental with just a D7.
A D SEVEN?! That's pretentious jazz nonsense! I'd say a D5, and then maybe throw the major third in during the bridge for a bit of variation.
You can't play swamp music without those 7 ths !
I guess I'm trying to pretend I'm talented.
The instrumental part seems effortless to me. I struggle coming up with lyrics that don't sound cliche and banal.
I only have one original that I think has great lyrics, and it's the one I wrote after a best friend killed himself and I got laid off my job. Real life makes the best songs.
Very rarely did I write a song with the music first. I write the song out, and then I try to fit the music to the groove of the lyrics.
It just seems awkward to me to do it the other way around. But hey, everyone has a different MO.
For me, a good song has to have a strong, memorable melody.
A great song has to have good lyrics as well as a strong, memorable melody.
Then, of course, the arrangement and instrumentation can elevate that great song or detract from it.
So, 100% of the time I start by writing the melody, which I harmonize as I write it, though I am very likely to later play with different chords underneath the completed melody.
Then, at some point in the future I will write lyrics for it or give it to my songwriting partner to finish.
Like Burt Bacharach told Hal David, no one whistles the lyrics.
When I used to write songs, I did whatever it took. Some would take years to complete, others, minutes.
I have a real hard time putting a vocal melody and lyrics to a chord progression or music that is already “finished.” I am much better writing it all at the same time. Then I can shift the music around the vocal melody/words and vice versa. I have known several guys who not only wrote but recorded the music (full band stuff) thinking the rest could be added later. Guess what? Those projects did not come to fruition. The vocal melody is the most important thing, to me. Therefore, it needs to be there somewhere toward the beginning.
I am sorry about your friend.
There are lots of books on writing songs and I’ve never made it thru any of them! Except one: Jeff Tweedy has a book that you might find helpful. He touches on this a little bit but I will say that lots of folks get proficient at an instrument but think songs will just follow from that. It’s not true. Set some parameters like: only 4 chords and no noodling for a week. No picking just strumming. But you have to play for 2 hours a day! It sucks but it’s worth it.
Lyrics. The music can share the spotlight, but if the story is bad, I cannot listen to it.
Music + lyrics are a song. Everything else is decoration. The song works or it doesn't.
You can't do it any better than Buddy Holly, so don't even try.
I'm a lyrics guy. Music can be unimaginative but bad lyrics are like nails on a chalkboard.
Side note: McCartney is an awesome musician but his lyrics lean to the weak side. Lennon often wrote interesting lyrics but his melodies were more basic. Balancing each other they were pretty darn great.
I love visually explict lyrics that dont always say the meaning EG a song with lyrics that say " I love you" as part of the lyric content bores the hell out of me but some thing like " if mountains crumble to the sea, there will still be you and me" is a little higher up the ladder at least as far as I'm concerned.
If i write lyrics it comes in spells and I have to get the rough draft down imediately , this may come as 5 or 6 different prose at one time
when I write melodies I listen for the meter and some times the words just flow. but dont forget that for every ton of crap there is one ounce of gold maybe
I suppose that depends on whether you speak German...