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View Full Version : What's your thought process when you start making a song?



Dane
11-03-2010, 10:36 PM
I thought this would be interesting to see other peoples methods. I find that sometimes I will just be messing around, and I will find one good sound, or one interesting chord, and then I will start to build an instrumental around it. Or sometimes I will take an old song I learned a while back, and take one cool sound out of it, and reshape it to make it my own. It took me a while to realize that I was doing this, and now that I have realized it, I find that it's much easier to start making new songs. I still always have trouble bridging pieces together though, but lets just call that my style ;)

So how bout you? I love finding out how other peoples minds work.

UKISOCIETY
11-03-2010, 11:49 PM
What's your thought process when you start making a song?

Twisted .

retrozombi
11-04-2010, 04:20 AM
I usually start with the melody, and then build up a rhythm that supports it; but if a rhythm comes to me first I'll go from there. :)

knadles
11-04-2010, 05:32 AM
One of two ways:

I'll strum out a chord change that I like and start making up some lyrics. Or...

If I'm not near an instrument, I'm more likely to come up with a rhythm and some lyrics and build from there.

If I try to sit down and write a song, I almost never do. It only comes when I'm not looking for it. Of course, finishing is the hard part. That's more like homework... :)

pulelehua
11-04-2010, 08:37 AM
A few lyrics, not too many, then some chords usually. Then some more lyrics. And there's a sort of tag-team effort between the two until the end. More rarely, something instrumental. I try to have the lyrics influence what I'm doing instrumentally. Reinforcing, adding irony, etc.

Thinking about it, I've NEVER written a song on the ukulele. Instrumental pieces, yes, but never a song. Hmmmmmmmm.

Dane
11-04-2010, 09:26 AM
Twisted .

I think most of us knew this already though haha

Dane
11-04-2010, 09:28 AM
A few lyrics, not too many, then some chords usually. Then some more lyrics. And there's a sort of tag-team effort between the two until the end. More rarely, something instrumental. I try to have the lyrics influence what I'm doing instrumentally. Reinforcing, adding irony, etc.

Thinking about it, I've NEVER written a song on the ukulele. Instrumental pieces, yes, but never a song. Hmmmmmmmm.

I think I really need to work on my singing more, I've come up with great lyrics before but then not had anything to play them over, or what I planned to play them over doesn't seem to work. I think the problem is that I get too confused and a little frustrated and then just give up.

ukecantdothat
11-04-2010, 09:45 AM
Twisted .

This is coffee-out-the-nose hilarious, because if you've seen Alan's vids, you know he means it! Of, course, not all of his stuff is twisted. He can also bring one to tears on occasion - the sign of a truly gifted writer. For me, if there's too much thought at the start, nothing happens. That's the sign of an average writer, I think. I usually come up with things when I'm just noodling around and not thinking. This is why I don't have a ton of stuff of my own. This is true for me especially with lyrics. So many times it's while driving, in the shower, or dropping off to sleep, when something pops into my head. That's the trick. To be able to turn things off that need to be turned off in order to let the creative side of the brain wander freely. That's what any great artist has the ability to do.

I heard Willie Nelson on Larry King recently say that a good songwriter should be able to write on command. It may not be great when he does that, but he'd be able to write something on the spot when asked. That's what the Brill Building writers were all about. Back in the day, Mac Davis (I'm dating myself here...) had a variety show where he'd take made-up song titles from the audience and write a song right there, and they were usually pretty good, witty little rhymes he'd come up with, much like a rapper would be able to "spit out" on the spot. I used to work with a guy who found a Mr. Microphone (battery pwr'd mic w/built in amp/speaker) at a thrift store. He'd walk around all day asking people to say any word that popped into their heads, and off he'd go on an amazing rap. He was a great song songwriter, too, very inventive lyrically and musically.

So I guess for me, I'll quote one of the best, if not the best:

Turn off your mind / Relax and float down stream

pulelehua
11-04-2010, 09:59 AM
I think I really need to work on my singing more, I've come up with great lyrics before but then not had anything to play them over, or what I planned to play them over doesn't seem to work. I think the problem is that I get too confused and a little frustrated and then just give up.

That's more or less why I work the way I do. It's a conversation between music and words. If I get too far ahead with one, I find when I catch up the other, they don't work.

Fuzzy
11-05-2010, 05:09 AM
Usually I'll have an idea for some lyrics, but nothing definite. I'll just mess around until I find a chord sequence I like, and then try to write lyrics as I'm playing. It usually takes a while to get things working together, but I keep at it until I'm happy.
That said, the best song I've written just sort of "appeared" in my head with no effort from me. As ukecantdothat quoted, the best way to write a song is to Turn off your mind/Relax and float downstream. Don't overthink it. Just go where the music takes you.

UKISOCIETY
11-05-2010, 05:44 AM
This is coffee-out-the-nose hilarious, because if you've seen Alan's vids, you know he means it! Of, course, not all of his stuff is twisted. He can also bring one to tears on occasion - the sign of a truly gifted writer. For me, if there's too much thought at the start, nothing happens. That's the sign of an average writer, I think. I usually come up with things when I'm just noodling around and not thinking. .....


Thanks for the kind words. I had to think about my writing process a bit before seriously responding. A lot of times I'll hear a phrase or a sentence that sounds intersting to me and then build off that. Othertimes I'll just fool around with some chord progressions, come up with a sequence and then write words that fit the feel or mood those chords put me in. The big thing I learned about song writing (for me, anyway) is that I had to just DO IT. The more songs I wrote, or attempted to write, the more natural song-writing felt to me. I've started many songs that I never finished because I didn't get the full inspiration to complete them. Other songs will start well and then have to "cook" in my head for a while before I know what to do with them. I've got about 10 songs like that. Some are even complete but I don't feel that they're quite right and need revision. Time may reveal it, or may not.