Different types of songwriting

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  • @tuulitukkarecords Jan 13

    So how do you get your ideas out? What is your workflow like? Do you work in a DAW or do you write chords after jamming with your acoustic?

    I do mostly metal so being able to draw in midi drums (since I don't own a set) in to my daw is really important. And apart from that I just like having my ideas stored as recordings. Another approach for me is notating everything.

    So tell me, how do you write your music?

  • @pcob1993  Jan 13

    I get one sentence attached to a strong feeling (please don't hit me again with the truncheon officer) and/or two chords that connect sweetly in an interesting way ( Emaj7 to F#m7) and I build it from there. If I get stuck I start another one until I get stuck again and then I root through my notes idly wondering if it's time to have a glass of wine/coffee/beer/tea or take a walk/bath/game of snooker.... I never found an easy way.... I have a Yamaha CP33 stage piano piano set up to an iMac running Logic Pro and a few guitars and a banjo and a flute and a bass clarinet (but we won't go there just yet.... ) and I actually love getting lost..

  • @tuulitukkarecords Jan 13

    That's emotional right there!

  • @guatecoop  Jan 13

    I start on an acoustic, electric, bass, or keys with something that either is in my head or comes to me while playing. I then work out the song and record that part. From there I add on some other parts until I get an idea of what I want for drums and record those. It is obviously backwards from a studio recording, but I have to have a song to play with on drums. I record everything into my DAW with microphones and direct with bass or keys. Finally I add whatever else I think sounds good in there and mix it.
    With the limited time for FAWM it works for me. The timing can be less than perfect because of the order, but it’s close enough and I get my ideas across. Last year I did something fun with my brother, @zecoop, where he sent me a drum part and I made a complementary drum part, then we proceeded with the back and forth with bass and guitars to complete the song. A mixing challenge for sure, but a different process that was fun. It’s called the negotiation if you are

  • @atitlan  Jan 13

    I'm keyboards based, so work in a DAW. I have three usual startpoints for my songs - a drum pattern, a riff or arpeggio (including basslines) or a chord sequence.

    Once I have that initial idea I add some layers and try to decide whether the section wants to be a verse or chorus and will evolve the song's other sections from there. Once I have a basic framework I'll ad-lib vocals over the top until something useful lyrically and melodically falls out (at this point the lyrics get written), and record a guide vocal.

    I then fill in around the vocals, add instrumental sections if I feel it needs them and then record some better vocals based on the earlier guide. From there, mix, fx, mix tweak and very basic mastering. Then chuck it up on Soundcloud.

  • @airbagtester  Jan 13

    Most of my songs start out with me just wanking around on guitar 😁 I usually put in a basic drum machine beat to start out though, so I can have something to sync to later.

  • @tuulitukkarecords Jan 13

    Okay and how long does it take for you to complete one song like that? I feel like some templates would be useful if I started doing the final song right away like that. @guatecoop consider yourself lucky, I don't own drums and I couldn't even play them because I live in a row house. I would still record them close to the end like you mentioned.

  • @tuulitukkarecords Jan 13

    @airbagtester sounds familiar!

  • @atitlan  Jan 13

    @tuulitukkarecords For FAWM or 50/90 I give myself a 4hr time limit which sometimes gets stretched to 6.

  • @psyt Jan 13

    My writing is divided into two parts normally. The first part tends to be the most fun, it's the one where I go with a particular idea and develop it to be the best 8 bar loops it can be (not necessarily 8 bars, but necessarily a loop).
    The second part is where I take one of those 8 bar loops that has everything the song should have (at least in my former opinion) and work out the arrangement for it.
    Many electronic musicians tend to fall into the trap of a the '8 bar loop hell', where they only do the first bit and not the second one, and they end up having hundreds if not thousands of orphaned project files, and very few or no songs to show for it. I avoid that trap as follows:
    I allow myself to do the first bit as much as I want whenever I want, but whenever I decide to write a song, I have to use the oldest stem (that's what I call those projects that are in the first stage, the 8 bar loops) that inspires me.

  • @nikke88  Jan 13

    Usually I just "borrow" a chord progression, a phrase of melody, rhythm, hook or something else and see, where I end up with it. And often the result is totally different than the original "borrowed" part.

    Isn't that how music is made?

  • @vomvorton  Jan 13

    My main process is to come up with some lyrical idea first, and then expand it out as much as I can to suggest some kind of structure and (hopefully) melody. Then I usually grab a guitar and start figuring out how it's going to sound, record a guide track along to a drum loop and then add layers from there. I think this generally tends to give me the best results.

    If the lyrical ideas aren't flowing, though, I have a few other things that I try, like building from a repeated synth sequence or guitar riff. I generally find it harder to write lyrics to existing music though so this can lead me into tricky places. On the other hand, this approach leads into collaboration a lot more smoothly.

  • @powerstars Jan 13

    Lately, I've been learning some basic theory, so I've been watching some analysis videos about specific songs, artists, or styles I like and trying to emulate those sorts of chord progressions while doing something original with them.

  • @juoppis  Jan 13

    I've got three basic types of composing:

    1) the lyric hook

    I'll come up with a phrase that's a starting point. Let's think of one now...umm..."maybe tomorrow is another day".

    Then I'll start fleshing out what that means. Is it a sad song? A happy one? Has the main character been dumped or is it about an impending apocalypse? Sing out a couple of bars to find it out and then start doing basic chording etc.

    2) "it's a guitar/piano/bass song"

    I'll pick up an instrument and start noodling with it until I hit something interesting. Then I'll back up and flesh out the actual riff that I'm going with. Sometimes I'll record the noodling to just free my thoughts that I can come back.

    3) "that's a cool sound there"

    Related to the instrument method but this time it can be a sample, maybe a drum beat, maybe a synth sound. Just start to build right away the "actual song". The point is to try to find the feel of the song and then carve away everything that does not serve that feel.

  • @juoppis  Jan 13

    Then there's also fourth method in FAWM:

    4) "I have no idea what I'm doing"

    in where I take a music genre I've never tried and try to produce a song in that genre. To analyze and deconstruct what makes a genre piece is a truly marvellous experience. Usually it also gives me the best laughs as well.

  • @zecoop  Jan 13

    I try to mix it up all the time. As strictly an instrumentalist, I start with many different instruments without really knowing what the song will become. Acoustic guitar happens sometimes to start a song, but actually less often than bass, electric guitar, keyboards or drums. Some of the most fun songs have started by me sitting down at the drumset and "composing" a song there. Then I add the different instrument parts and see what happens. I love it when songs morph and change before my eyes. I also write in a lot of different styles, so that helps keep it exciting. Once I get it to where I think that it could be used for lyrics, I send it to a collaborator to see what happens there. FAWM is so much fun..... 😀

  • @philkmills  Jan 13

    It has changed for me over the years. Used to be I'd write out all the words, create a melody that they suggested, then try to harmonize it...a sequential process.

    Now, whenever I get a few lyric lines I like, the rhythm starts to take over and *it* leads to the music, which happens in parallel with finishing the song's story.

  • @yam655 Jan 13

    My preferred process:
    1. I clear my mind, as one would before meditating.
    2. I lightly hold a topic or title in mind
    3. I start recording (big fan of the Zoom H1)
    4. I open my mouth and discover what I'm singing about.

    That's my process for all my lyrics, though if I'm going for more standard structures I improvise a verse and a chorus and I derive variations in a text file.

    This year I have a kalimba that I'll be adding to the mix. I've found I also like improvising with it, and I expect to get experimental and weird.

  • @pearlmanhattan  Jan 13

    I write in different ways for what i'm writing. One way is I start with a prompt, like a subject or feeling, use word clouds and rhymezone to flesh it into verses and chorus, then find the melody and add chords that fit the emotion, inflection, and melody. Another way is to start with a loop or musical phrase, and add things that go along with it. Another way is that the words and music come to me like a lightening strike and I have to write and compose it before I forget it. It's a lot like that sculpting quote, I start with a block and cut out what doesn't belong.

  • @tcelliott  Jan 13

    Often a musical or lyrical idea. That can be a guitar riff or chord progression or a title/phrase or a melody. Then I just kind of free form until something recognizable as an idea comes out. Typically I'll write down the lyric idea/phrase/line and work from there. If it's going easy then I'll just keep going until I get it pretty much done with structure and lyric mostly done. If not then I'll record whatever bit I have and then work on more. For instance, if I have a good verse structure and an idea on the melody then I may record that on my hand held recorder and then start futzing around with a chord progression or riff or maybe melody for the chorus and/or a bridge or a pre-chorus or whatever it is that comes to me thinks it should be. Eventually I play the song all the way through (usually while recording it on the hand-held recorder) and then decide if that's it or if I need to fire up the BR-900 and start putting an arrangement together.

  • @tcelliott  Jan 13

    But there are tons of other ways, too.

    For instance, I've been practicing drums this January. And one of the sites has a little rock riff at 112 bpm with an empty measure every four bars (for drum fills.) The cool thing about it is that it's got a basic little rock structure of Verse/Ch/V/Ch/Bridge/Ch out... lasts about 2:30 ish. and it's cool enough.

    But I decided to write my own without the fill thing so I don't have to keep doing a whole measure of fills all the way through which I find I can only do the same three or four fills (i'm a beginner.) So I wrote a rock chord pattern that was fun to play. Sounded better at 136 bpm so I went with it. Sounds good. Fun to jam to. I already have lyrical and melodic ideas to put on top so it'll eventually end up being a real song... and 136 bpm is too fast for me... well, it's fun as heck to drum to but man I'm tired. My legs are tired, my arms are tired.... whew.

  • @metalfoot  Jan 13

    I usually start from a lyric, but occasionally there's a tune snippet or chord progression in my head from which I begin to craft a song.

  • @sbs2018 Jan 14

    I write poetry so I often start by sorting through my poems to see which has lyric possibilities. Then I add a drum or some sort of beat cuz my ears just love drums, although I come closest to playing the keys. And then I add layers, tweak the lyrics, play with the mix. And if I’m really lucky, I end up with something pleasing to my ears.

  • @ampersandman  Jan 14

    Usually a song just forms in my head. My mind is like vast pool filled with song particles floating around, sometimes some bits come to the surface, some other particles stick to them and eventually form a new song-like construction. These particles can also be words and phrases I heard. When one of these beautiful bastards washes up I either forget them again, sing them into my phone to keep the idea or like them enough to remember them. In the meantime other parts can fall into place, further fleshing out the song ideas.
    When it’s FAWM time, the conscious work begins: Sorting through the mumbly hissy phone recordings and trying to remember what I heard in my mind. Trying to make sense of the words that are there or replacing them, writing full lyrics, and of course recording the songs. But I only start programming drums when I know what the whole result is meant to sound like.
    Sometimes I also start from a guitar idea, but also then I let them ripen and take shape in my inner so

  • @bootlegger Jan 14

    I guess the first step for me is to write a lot of lyrics. Pages and pages of them in notebooks or smaller lyrical ideas on my phone in the notes section or sometimes typed out on my computer while I am supposed to be working.

    Then I'll just play my guitar and see if I stumble onto any good ideas to start a song. Could be a riff or a chord progression. Some kind of general cool thing that could develop into a song.

    Then I try to match one of my sets of lyrics to the guitar part I came up with and see if I can get a song to come out. The hardest part for me is really finding a vocal melody that's compelling. At least during fawm.

    I've written this way as long as I can remember writing music, which is going on 20 years at this point.

  • @kanttila Jan 14

    I go from guitar most of the time. Just sit down and see what happens. Sometimes I have lyrics, or a title, and I like to look at art to get an idea of what I want the song to be like.

    Often I've thought what I want it to sound like, like from other songs. I recently came up with my "Steal List", a playlist where I listen to the song a bunch and write down everything cool about it so I have a sort of book of references for certain tricks. I've been looking at BAND-MAID, BiSH, Haru Nemuri and The Smiths a lot for this.

    When I write a song it comes natural mostly, often I just play gutiar and it goes nowhere but sometimes I have the right feeling, and it's like somethings in the air you know. It's suddenly like, wow I just wrote 10 songs on guitar in a few hours. Then nothing for a while.

    I like to go from guitar to make sure it's not boring. If I compose a vocal melody the songs might be a little better but I find the chords sound boring and it has no really progression.

  • @tuomoh Jan 15

    Most often I take my guitar and just start fooling around. When I find something that I like, I concentrate on that and try to think how to continue from there. Then I keep repeating what I've come up with, start from the beginning and go on to the current end, always thinking how to continue from there while polishing the parts under construction. Quite often this means intro -> verse -> (pre)chorus -> back to intro/verse with some fills in proper places.

    When I get to the point where there is a clear change such as the C part, I usally take this as my new starting point and start working from there onwards using the same method as above. Often I eventually find my way back to intro/verse/chorus, sometimes not.

    After all the parts seem to be ready, I start polishing the song structure. Sometimes I need to change some parts a little, sometimes I need to add bits.

    Music always comes to me first but sometimes I get some na-na's in there already during the first phase. Howev

  • @tuomoh Jan 15

    Damn, what happened?

    I was saying that I finish the vocal melodies after the whole song structure is intact. I start with nice vowel sounds that fit the part in question, then start getting some words out of these sounds. These words then tell me what I'm writing about. Now I just need to finish what I'm writing. Btw, lyrics is the hard part for me.

    Timewise, I often make the verse/chorus structure one day, then continue with the C part the next day. Sometimes song comes quickly, sometimes it may take months to get to the end. Of course with FAWM only the former is an option. 😁

  • @andygetch  Jan 19

    I write lots of different ways. I find that narrowing choices with freedom to try something different, and freedom to fail, helps the most. Mostly words first (from a prompt/theme, written verse, freewriting, clustering, or random rhyming), sometimes music first (alternate guitar tuning, chord progression, argeggio, riff), and occasionally I am blessed with both at the same time, sometimes I start with another song as a template and morph it beyond recognition. Always looking to find a new path to a song.

  • @coolparadiso  Jan 19

    I generally start with a lyric. But i see a mind map in my head so often lyrics and music just come together ! Then i do a quick demo! Then decide how much i want to produce it! My head is clever musically but sometimes my fingers struggle to deliver what my mind hears! I write everyday! And i just write and write! Waiting for the slowdown which doesnt happen!

  • @mikeb Jan 19

    My usual method:
    1) Hook
    2) Thrash-write first set of lyrics
    3) Edit, submit to the Muse for early critiques and suggestions
    4) More editing
    5) Put the lyric in the 'lyric pile' to look at later.
    6) Noodle on guitar or keyboard and come up with some chord pattern ideas.
    7) Look through lyric pile to see if any of them jump out as appropriate for those chords.
    8) Lots of messing around, re-arranging chords, thinking of melodies.
    9) Bring song to songwriter group for suggestions.
    10) More rewriting, then finally recording, typically a scratch guitar or keyboard track to a simple drum rhythm (EZ Drummer).

    ^^This is why I never joined FAWM before, it's very different from my usual style!

  • @alyxanderjames  Jan 19

    I almost always start with lyrics, starting from either something that's been rattling around in my head or a prompt I've found elsewhere. I keep a little Google doc of lyric ideas that strike me when I'm not somewhere that I can work on writing a song, so I also look through that and through my current (and sometimes previous) songwriting notebooks for unfinished ideas.

    Sometimes I have melody ideas while I'm writing lyrics, so once I get to the point of picking up my guitar (or occasionally, another instrument), I have some idea of where I want to start.

    So the process looks something like:

    - Lyrics
    - Melody
    - Chords
    - Revise melody to fit chords
    - Revise lyrics to fit music

  • @torniojaws  Jan 19

    I have a template with everything ready for recording guitar, and with pre-configured drum machine and synths (though I usually add new ones per project).

    Then I just take the guitar and jam around until I come up with a nice riff. Then I record it (twice - for panning) and program some fitting drums for it. Then based on that idea, I add a bunch of more riffs and parts, adjusting the drum beats. Once I have roughly 10 riffs, I start to arrange it into a song. Then based on the structure I might record something more, or adjust the drum beats etc. Then I add synths to it, and it usually grows to a fairly final form. Then I add a programmed bass to it (which I'll later record with a real bass). And that's basically it 😀

    Sometimes I start differently to create some variety. Usually with some synth parts or ambience, which I then expand upon with several different parts. From there on, it usually grows much in the same way as with guitars.

  • @circle Jan 21

    I try different things. The main thing I'll do is just play around on guitar or keyboard, try to find a riff or chord progression that I like, and start wailing on top of it randomly and off key. Eventually I might find something that sounds good. After that it's on to the DAW to add extra instrumentation and effects etc. Sometimes things end up very different to how they started, sometimes they don't at all.

    Other than that I've played around with loops, and recording long improvisations which are then listened to again for nice moments. Occasionally I'll get a fully formed melody stuck in my head that I then work from, but it's pretty rare

  • @seb Feb 12


  • @tawny249  Feb 12

    @alyxanderjames, that is almost exactly how I write, sans the steps involving chords because I can't instrument...lol. Lyrics, melody, revise lyrics to fit melody. Good to know that's not just me.

  • @scottlake  Feb 12

    I follow Pat Pattison’s Idea of ‘The Boxes’ if I had several threads to a theme of lyrics.

  • @mikeskliar  Feb 12

    what a great thread! there's no one way i do these things (tho they almost never involve 'daw' stuff, or programming, or loops- just not something i'm comfortable in, etc) -- usually a phrase and a musical idea come at the same time, once i get a verse aned chorus, i put down the guitar or whatever, and go to the computer and write lyrics, edit lyrics etc and then come back to the instruments, later.. if that makes sense

  • @spingo  Feb 12

    This year and last I've been mostly working up guitar pop-rock songs, so it's been words first, pretty much always. Find a phrase that has a rhythm to it (today's was "it's a gift, it's a curse" swiped from a Facebook post). That leads to the full line and the next line ("I don't know which is worse") and then I find a melody that fits that and I've got a chorus. Then I work to fill out what's missing.

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