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Writing Songs


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When my band writes we all get together and go over riffs or pieces each of us already has and then we take some we like and jam on them. We piece a song together piece by piece then I go off into my hole and write lyrics, and then I emerge and we work on adding the vocals.

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Do you mean whole songs or just the lyrics? Lyrics-wise all I can recommend is waiting until inspiration hits you with a good line or two, and working around that as much as possible, that's what I do. It's not something you can force. Music, really, all you can do is jam until something works. It needs to be something natural, you can't try and force out a factory line style of song production.

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Sit at keyboard/piano, throw down some chords, get 3/4/5 nice chord progressions to utilise throughout a song (I hate stuff sounding too similar throughout...and maybe save some for later), work out a basic vocal line (Sometimes not even with words) and song structure. 'Complicate' the piano part a bit, play it through a few times to get it engraved in my mind. Generally jot down the important bits.

Then I go about transcribing it for whatever 'medium' I want it. Like when I was in a band, I'd sit with the guitarist and stuff, find out what he could play, he'd usually toss in a couple of twiddly bit/riff ideas, generally leave the drummer to himself (As I know fuck all about drums and he was the strongest link in the band anyway). Then as a unit we'd fine tune stuff, and I'd try and get some lyrics to it (But I FUCKING SUCK at lyrics).

I also tend to notice I write in 'G Minor' and 'A-flat Major', and tend to transpose stuff after I've finished, to find what sounds 'best'.

Edited by Steve Mandela
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Under no circumstances try and write lyrics as if they were coming from someone else. If you find that most of your lyrics sound like The White Stripes when you're going for more of an Artic Monkeys kind of vibe, go with what comes to you. You might find you don't like the sound or flow of your own lyrics, but you work on them until you do, or do what I used to do, and just sing them over and over until they lose all meaning, you don't care that your lyrics blatantly suck.

Although as you'll have probably gathered, you shouldn't really be taking much in the way of advice from me.

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Not everyone can be a good song writer. You can't just pick it up. If you had to come here to ask us how to write a song; chances are you'll suck. If you're writing music with it, and it's gonna be a slowish kind of song, just pick up an acoustic and strum a few chords, hum a melody, fit words around that melody. Make the words mean something to you. Don't, under any circumstance, try and sound like somebody else. If it doesn't come from the heart, it's obviously forced.

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