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mangorockfish
07-13-2012, 05:01 PM
Please post some useful tips that you use in song writing. How do you come up with lyrics, melody, etc? Which comes first lyric or melody and how do you first begin? Just anything that might help us budding songwriters. Thanks.

Barbablanca
07-14-2012, 01:32 PM
Good way to start is the old bluesman trick of starting with a simple idea, repeating it in line two and then thinking of a rhyme which would go well with the rhyme set up in line one and two:

"Well, I woke up this morning, I woke up this afternoon too (x2)
Seems like I got those hard to get out of bed blues"" etc.

I often get inspired by one single line and think: "How can I take this elsewhere?"

So my latest contribution to the "21st Season of the Ukulele started with the line:
"On the boulevard of broken dreams"
http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=a6XWF5zodp8

I then thought what would be on such a Bouelvard? Who would be there and why?

The rest of the song then fell into place.

mangorockfish
07-14-2012, 02:01 PM
The only word I understood was bouelvard, but it was terrific. Loved everything about it. Good luck with it.

Barbablanca
07-14-2012, 02:19 PM
The only word I understood was bouelvard, but it was terrific. Loved everything about it. Good luck with it.
Thanks! Check out the translation underneath in the comments.

painterbob
07-14-2012, 09:24 PM
I bought a little pocket sized rhyming dictionary on Amazon for less than $10. Helps me a ton when writing lyrics.

Barbablanca
07-15-2012, 02:37 AM
www.rhymezone.com is also a useful resource for songwriting.

Cornfield
07-15-2012, 03:36 AM
Please post some useful tips that you use in song writing. How do you come up with lyrics, melody, etc? Which comes first lyric or melody and how do you first begin? Just anything that might help us budding songwriters. Thanks.

I keep my cell phone handy to record ideas as they come up. There are all kinds of songs. Sometimes I start with an idea like "I want to write a love song in a waltz format".
http://soundclick.com/share.cfm?id=11401102
The latest song that I have written started out with old nursery rhymes..
http://soundclick.com/share.cfm?id=11746187

Uke.
09-05-2012, 01:24 PM
Always have a subject area in mind when you set out to write a song. It could be a place, person, time, emotion; whatever. You should always have a basic idea that holds it all together. Then think about what you want to say, think about verse development. For example, if you want to write a song about a girl you're in love with, a developed structure might look something like this:

Verse 1:
I'm thinking back on the times when....
blablabla
You were my childhood sweetheart

Chorus:
I love you

Verse 2:
We grew up and you moved away,
but I stayed forever in wherever
All those years I was never the same,
I was distant and whatever...

Chorus:
I love you

Verse 3:
Your life was cut short by a tragedy,
I never got to say goodbye,
But let me tell you now that I love you

Chorus:
I love you


Obviously I just made that up and it's terrible but it should give you an idea how the chorus or refrain should mean something more to the listener each time. The 'I love you' has more context, more power with each verse.

If you plan your structure ahead of time like this (even if you write down one brief line or heading for each para.) it should help you avoid getting stuck at any point and wondering what you have left to say.

sweetdemise
09-21-2012, 04:18 AM
What I do is just mess around on my uke, guitar, or piano until I find something that sounds cool and I build off of that. Usually I create the melody before even touching lyrics. When you write lyrics it's good to have a concept, then decide a vehicle your song will go off of (extended metaphor, story, emotions), how will you convey the idea. (The less literal you are, the deeper the song will be). A lot of people make the mistake of waiting for inspiration, or they want the song to mean something to them before they write it. Do not fall into this trap, if there are emotions you want to convey that you aren't feeling try it anyway. As the song develops it will become more convincing. At first, don't worry about rhymes, try writing your idea in prose (non-poetic speech) and developing your rhymes from that. Figure out when you want to reveal parts of the story, for example (V1: you left me V2: I feel alone C: You're better off now V3: I can move on, or try telling the story another way (V1: I can move C: You're better off now V2: But i still feel alone V3: Ever since you left me C: You're better off now). When you have a concept for each verse and paragraph, then start writing the song, with rhymes and such (don't get too caught up in perfect rhymes. Slant rhymes, assonance, or even not rhyming is perfectly fine). Sometimes a few lines will just come to you, work with those and use them to develop a concept. But ultimately, just try. It doesn't matter what system you use. You get better with practice. My first songs were shallow, the rhymes were terrible... they just sucked. Now I can write things I am actually proud of, ones ill look back on as milestones. If you take nothing away from this but just one idea, then take this. Just Write

Uke.
09-21-2012, 05:38 AM
The less literal you are, the deeper the song will be

Sorry but I laughed at this a little. Check out this video.

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=dueicf-O9W8

sweetdemise
09-21-2012, 06:17 AM
I didn't mean that it shouldn't be understandable. If a song is just about a story, or something that happened, it isn't going to be as meaningful as a song that conveys an idea or emotion. I guess my wording could have made it sound humorous.

TheOnlyUkeThatMatters
09-21-2012, 08:12 AM
A few pointers:

* Start simple, that is, use common chord progressions. Re-inventing the wheel wouldn't just be silly, it'd be incredibly difficult. Common chord progressions are the wheels that will get you rolling.

* Don't worry about originality. Freely adapt melodies, lyrics, etc. from songs you know and like. This is the folk tradition. It rocks.

* Every idea is worth exploring. You can start a song with a chord progression, a melody, a lyric, an emotion, the ideas in this thread, etc.

* Quantity leads to quality. This is good, since I just recommended checking out all the ideas you find. Keep writing.

* Analyze songs you like. Ask (and try to answer) questions like these: How is the song arranged? Why is the chord progression effective? What's cool about the melody? Would the song work at other tempos? etc.

* Don't take yourself too seriously. Odds are you won't end up being the next Bob Dylan or Paul McCartney, so don't worry about how "good" your songs are. I can't tell if a song I've written is "good" or not until a few years have passed. (If I still play it after a few years, it's "good".)

Dougf
09-21-2012, 02:40 PM
Great suggestions, Ralf.

I would just add to write down any ideas that come to you. It's amazing how even ideas that seem like they'd make great songs can easily be forgotten. (Well, it seems like it happens to me.:)) Jot 'em down!

lovinforkful
11-01-2012, 06:00 AM
I am extremely new to songwriting, but I have to second DougF that you should write down any idea that comes to you. Even if it's just one line or a particular key you want to work in, you never know when inspiration will strike and you can build off that idea into something bigger and better. Buy and carry around a little notebook or use an app on your phone to keep track.

Personally I haven't had much success writing lyrics or music without doing the other too. I will start playing around on the ukulele and usually I know I have found something I like when after playing it once or twice, lyrics or a story begin to come to me. Words I write without my ukulele in hand tend to lack SOMETHING.

Caddy65
11-01-2012, 06:51 AM
It varies for me. Sometimes I get a catchy line or phrase in my head and go from there. Other times I just noodle around on an instrument and come up with a chord progression and write the melody to that, and other times get the melody first and then go from there.

One time I was out mowing the lawn on my garden tractor and was getting eaten alive by mosquitoes. I came up with the line, 'Mosquitoes, they're drivin' me insane'. By the time I got done mowing, with many trips inside to jot down lines, I had a really humorous song completed. Another time I was reading the paper and saw a story about a local guy named Casey Cannon. That led to a story and song about a guy who was a human cannonball that eventually got launched into orbit. (not all my songs are humorous, but those are just a couple that came to mind). Ideas can come from anywhere, or in any way.

mds725
11-07-2012, 08:46 AM
I didn't mean that it shouldn't be understandable. If a song is just about a story, or something that happened, it isn't going to be as meaningful as a song that conveys an idea or emotion. I guess my wording could have made it sound humorous.

The idea of keeping lyrics "broad" (a term I prefer to "vague") is a really helpful one. I began writing a song for Train Week on Seasons of the Uke (alas, I didn't get it finished on time, but I may use it for Yearning Week, Season 38), and I wanted to depict a scene where someone was leaving on a train, but that the train would also bring that person back eventually. For a long time, I struggled trying to write lyrics explaining why the person was leaving, where the person was going, etc. My breakthrough was realizing that the song needed to be about the feelings behind leaving, and I think the song works better because the reason for leaving and the destination are not revealed. I realized that because the point of the song was to show separation as an opportunity to acknowledge love, the destination and reasons for leaving were irrelevant. So (I hope) my song ended up being "broader" because people could relate to it (I hope) regardless of why they were going to separate, or had separated, from a loved one.