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Advice for an aspiring songwriter?


standfree1987
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Hey guys, i've started getting involved with my music in the last year or so, and have now done a few gigs with a covers band, singing.

I am now trying my hand with a band, of very good musicians, trying to come up with music, and I am coming up with some ok stuff, I am keen to know how most bands go about song writing? do your band come up with a full song and then write a song around that, or do you have any advise for things you use for writing?

I am trying to take inspiration from music I like, and music I know do my voice justice, but I end up just sounding like im trying to rip it off. If i start completely fresh with my own ideas the idea is way overly thought and, still doesnt sound like anything half decent.

I want to be able to write cool, catchy songs, to give to my band. Any pointers and tips would be cool!

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I am trying to take inspiration from music I like, and music I know do my voice justice, but I end up just sounding like im trying to rip it off. If i start completely fresh with my own ideas the idea is way overly thought and, still doesnt sound like anything half decent.

I want to be able to write cool, catchy songs, to give to my band. Any pointers and tips would be cool!

Don't be too hard on yourself, just because your stuff isn't (yet) as good as the famous musicians you like can produce. Try your stuff out in public, then ask the audience what they think of it- you might be pleasantly surprised.

I agree that you should avoid over-thinking the process. Try listening to some entirely new (to you) style of music- and start carrying paper and a pen around, to get fragments of ideas preserved, while they are fresh. Collaboration is another avenue you might explore?

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Jamming a few chords on an acoustic guitar works for me, then just mindlessly signing shite over the top until you think "hey, that's actually pretty decent". I have never been in a band, though, purely solo.

I reckon if you had a drummer you could do the same thing with him and a bass guitar, just play some chords/notes atop a beat and perhaps something will click.

It's very hard to give you advice on songwriting since everyone does it in different ways; coming up with a theme for each song is probably a good idea (something basic like "a break-up song" is always an easy way to start practising, for example).

A lot of my songs (not that you should follow my example!) started off with metaphors and just sort of expanded on that theme after finding a decent chord structure or two to string the words on. For example, "December" was just a tune about walking in the snow with someone you love, and just getting lost and not caring. It just needed a chord structure so I did that first, and sang over the top of that.

EDIT: Oh, and if it starts to sound like another song you know, tweak a chord or add a different vocal pattern. Or just scrap it. It's annoying when that happens.

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Hey guys cheers for the pointers, love hearing other people's thoughts, will take them all on board.

My band came up with a demo of a tune, that was really hard to write around, but we managed to change the song around so it was more about the vocal, i definitely have potential to write some stuff, just trying to find a way to make it click together and find some rhythm so it isn't such a mind-f**k. I am keen just to write a standard indie number, to kick me off a bit. I just wrote a song, about an older male/younger female, relationship and im just trying to tweak it slightly so it fits the song. Also when my band have given me some demos I find it tricky to find an innovative melody line to go with, but i think thats more us as a band need to work together to make it fit.

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Hey guys cheers for the pointers, love hearing other people's thoughts, will take them all on board.

My band came up with a demo of a tune, that was really hard to write around, but we managed to change the song around so it was more about the vocal, i definitely have potential to write some stuff, just trying to find a way to make it click together and find some rhythm so it isn't such a mind-f**k. I am keen just to write a standard indie number, to kick me off a bit. I just wrote a song, about an older male/younger female, relationship and im just trying to tweak it slightly so it fits the song. Also when my band have given me some demos I find it tricky to find an innovative melody line to go with, but i think thats more us as a band need to work together to make it fit.

Aye, that's the way to go. For melody lines you could literally just record yourself humming/whistling something over the top of a demo and see if it works then translate that to guitar. Not tried that myself but sounds like it could work, especially in indie.

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The only advice I can offer is what I do myself - practice, practice, practice. Write songs until you're sick and tired of the sight of your guitar and you want to rip your ears off instead of hearing yourself sing any more.

Record everything you write. Everything. If there. are a couple of lyrics you like, write them down. If you have a melody but no words, hum it into a mic and save it for later. See if any lyrics you've written work with the melody. Use something lo-fi like your laptop in-built mic or your phone's voice-record function. Periodically listen back to everything you've done and see if any scraps and ideas work together and start to build songs. Once you have a song, record it, listen back a million times. Put it on your iPod. If you're sick of hearing it after a day, it's probably crap. If you still like it after a week or two, it's worth putting on a soundcloud page and getting some feedback from impartial ears.

Remember - you could be sure you've written the most amazing song ever one day, hear it a week later and wonder what in God's name you were thinking.

Personally, I go with the Hemmingway philosophy: "Write drunk, edit sober." Maybe not always literally, but if you just write and write and write everything that comes into your head without filtering it or trying to craft it as you go and just let the ideas flow, then go back and cut all the crap bits out of it, then you might, MIGHT, end up with something you think is worthwhile.

BUT, at the end of the day, these things are subjective, so my approach might be absolutely awful for you. Just try and try and try and try everything you can and if something works, go with it.

xx

EDIT: Also, use less commas in your posts and ignore the snarky abuse you're going to get on this website. The folks here are alright, really, but if you can't handle some good-natured (or really poor-natured in some cases) piss-taking then you'll struggle as a musician gererally in my experience!

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I agree with recording everything. It's annoying as shit having an awesome riff and then completely forgetting it. Sometimes I've remember the chords/notes but completely forgotton the rhythm, and could never get it back to how it used to sound. So many blockbusting anthems gone to waste.

The one piece of advice I ever got about songwriting was that your memory is a great filter. If it so happens you can't remember it, possibly pretty pish anyway. I rarely write down any lyrics, or if I do, I lose them. Rarely record things these days either unless I get something finished. I just write and write and write, if it's good, it'll stick. Oh, and if you're stuck, follow Loudon Wainwrights lead: can't write a good song, write a band one, loosen the flow.

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