‘Technical’ Songwriting

 
       
 
Jul 04, 2018, 10:13 AM

Here’s a brief article about your ‘internal editor’ and when to turn it on and off, from BMI’s “The Weekly” newsletter. You can sign up for its weekly discussion of such matters.

https://www.bmi.com/news/entry/when-to-turn-on-iand-i-turn-ioff-i-your-internal-songwriting-editor?utm_medium=email&utm_campaign=Weekly 73&utm_content=Weekly 73+Version+A+CID_71ad01cbf8a4afe1fe645a47e909a049&utm_source=Email marketing software&utm_term=SEE MORE

I ‘edit’ a Song in the writing process and often wish I could capture all the things I edit out to get to the finished product to show that process to others, words I try and reject, Melody tweaks that made the Rhythmic flow work better, or enabled better enunciation, or enhanced the ‘hook factor’ of the Melody. The ‘editing’ is spontaneous and I’m more focused on what I’m keeping than what I’m editing out.

The article is focused on not letting the ‘editor’ get in the way of the ‘creative flow’. In ‘brainstorming’ the rule is to throw ideas onto the ‘table’ without judging them. The ‘editor’ can ‘judge’ later. In the creative moment the important thing is to let the ideas flow freely so you can take a Lyric or Melody where it might not go if you or a co-writer are constantly shepherding things between narrow lines.

There will always be another song to be written. Someone will write it. Why not you? http://www.garyeandrews.com

 
     
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Gary E. Andrews Joined Apr 12, 2005
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Jul 18, 2018, 12:30 PM

If there is any real advantage in lacking a proper musical education, training and background, it is in terms of creativity. I’m not capable of an internal editor in the sense the author means as I don’t know enough to know what may or may not sound dumb or odd to trained ears. If you don’t know the rules, you can’t really break them and this allows me to approach the guitar, every single time I pick one up, going on 40 years now, of playing whatever feels or sounds good without respect to right or wrong, proper or improper or what anyone may think of it, be they trained or just folks.

It’s after I come up with something that the problems start and the price of lack of training has to be paid. Watching me tap my foot while playing makes every drummer I’ve ever played with howl with contempt and derision. I tell them to respect the handicapped. LOL.

The ‘editor’ does come in as a piece progress’s, but free flow of ideas, just throwing stuff out there is my one, and perhaps only, strength.

 
     
Larry Gude Joined May 23, 2017
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Jul 19, 2018, 06:45 AM

Yes, that ‘throwing stuff out there’ and editing as you go is the main thing I’m referring to.

There’s editing in the guitar work to a lesser degree as I simply find what works and don’t have the education to compose with knowledge of musical rules.

Finding the Melody for the Lyric is more natural, guided by the parameters of whatever I discover on guitar, the tempo, and the cadences I discover in the delivery of the Lyric. Sometimes a Song ‘discovered’ at a slow tempo can be played at a faster tempo once I’ve gotten it all composed. Or, a faster Song can be slowed and played as a blues and still seems to work for me.

In the process of composition there are lots of editorial decision made that shape the final form.

There will always be another song to be written. Someone will write it. Why not you? http://www.garyeandrews.com

 
     
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Gary E. Andrews Joined Apr 12, 2005
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Jul 19, 2018, 09:29 AM
Gary E. Andrews - 19 July 2018 06:45 AM

Finding the Melody for the Lyric is more natural, guided by the parameters of whatever I discover on guitar, the tempo, and the cadences I discover in the delivery of the Lyric. Sometimes a Song ‘discovered’ at a slow tempo can be played at a faster tempo once I’ve gotten it all composed. Or, a faster Song can be slowed and played as a blues and still seems to work for me.

In the process of composition there are lots of editorial decision made that shape the final form.

One of the many things I LOVE about songwriting and playing with others; the different skill sets and talents folks bring to the table.

I simply do not hear melody. I hear guitar riff. I hear the snare. I hear melody after the fact when someone works one out. I have to work at it.
There’s a tune we’re working on that I wrote and everyone heard the melody of a fairly famous rock song. I don’t hear it, at all. Same key, but different chord progression, different emphasis, totally different to a guitar players ears, the drumming is different. I mean, not even close, really. Yet, both singers and the drummer hear the other song melody wise. Doesn’t matter how many times I play the original, over time, and compare it to the famous song. They hear it right away and I don’t hear it AT ALL. LOL

In any event, we tore the original, mine, apart and used two of the riffs, different key, totally different drum beat and now, there is no one who hears them remotely the same. The melody makers rule and they dismiss me as a plagiarist! LOL

And here is the thing and Al Yankovic proved it; you can sing ANYTHING to a common beat, or so it seems.

In any event, we do a #### ton of editing in order to keep as far as possible from other people’s work, even if I can’t hear it!

 
     
Larry Gude Joined May 23, 2017
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Jul 19, 2018, 09:55 AM

Interesting the way different people take different approaches.

I can always tell the way the music to a song was written. I’m the opposite of you, Larry. I always start with the melody. The backing to the melody comes later, after I’ve carried the tune around in my head for a while, maybe picked it out on the piano, played it on the harmonica or whatever, probably come up with the first draft of the lyrics. I couldn’t so it any other way. Others start with a riff or a catchy beat and add the melody over the top. Either method can work just as well, but to me, it’s always pretty clear which way it was done.

 
     
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Gavin Sinclair Joined Dec 02, 2014
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Jul 19, 2018, 12:09 PM

I doubt it was simply the ‘beat’ that they thought sounded like the other Song.

If I sang;
Happy day! Happy day! Happy day to you!
to the tune of “Jingle Bells” you’d probably spot it right away. It’s usually that Melody ‘similarity’ or identical pitch of notes that tip people off.

A friend had started writing a new Song but stopped because he said it was my “Number On The Wall” Song. He played his and I saw nothing in it that sounded similar to mine.

Another friend started a Songwriting challenge for all of us to write a Song about birds. When we came together again she had the same story, started one, quit because it “...was “Little Brown Church In The Vale”...(if memory serves).

Another, experienced player, cover Song master of decades, said, “I can’t write an original Melody.” People ‘know’ so many other Songs they hear those others every time they start.

Another, experienced player, came to the house with the new Eagles record (vinyl, years ago) and picked up my guitar and played along with every Song. Every time I’d start out a Song or just strummed a few chords he would say, “Is that…” and name some Song he knew that was in that key.

Despite Songwriting for thousands of years the possibilities have not been exhausted. One must be on one’s guard against imitation or duplication, plagiarism, but there is still room for originality.

The recent Sam Smith/Tom Petty Melody match comes to mind. I think Smith’s got a Grammy or something before someone pointed out the “Won’t Back Down” three-note identicality of Smith’s “Stay With Me”. Both Songs repeated the words with another three-note step-down, if memory serves. Santana’s “Evil Ways” and the Zombies’ “She’s Not There”. George Harrison’s “My Sweet Lord” and “She’s So Fine”

It’s partly Arrangement, the key, the chord progression, tempo, but it’s mainly Melody of the Lyric that people will spot as being too close to another work’s Melody.

There will always be another song to be written. Someone will write it. Why not you? http://www.garyeandrews.com

 
     
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Gary E. Andrews Joined Apr 12, 2005
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Jul 20, 2018, 03:01 PM
Gary E. Andrews - 19 July 2018 12:09 PM

I doubt it was simply the ‘beat’ that they thought sounded like the other Song.

If I sang;
Happy day! Happy day! Happy day to you!
to the tune of “Jingle Bells” you’d probably spot it right away. It’s usually that Melody ‘similarity’ or identical pitch of notes that tip people off.
.

I LOVE this topic! So, take a listen to my scratch track; https://soundcloud.com/user-495889557-601500679/descent-into-chaos

Then listen to ‘Underneath’ by Buckcherry and tell me what you hear. I hear NOT substantially similar, at all! I think they all talked themselves into it and that was the end of it, tainted for life!

And to the happy birthday thing, Lorraine, when the whole Buchcherry controversy came up in the other band, to pile on the fun everyone was having at my expense, sang “Living after midnight’ by Judas Priest to EVERY riff I came up with for the next couple weeks! LOL

So, the thing is, I am an original! Just like everyone else!  LOL

 
     
Larry Gude Joined May 23, 2017
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Jul 20, 2018, 03:21 PM
Gavin Sinclair - 19 July 2018 09:55 AM

Interesting the way different people take different approaches.

I can always tell the way the music to a song was written. I’m the opposite of you, Larry. I always start with the melody. The backing to the melody comes later, after I’ve carried the tune around in my head for a while, maybe picked it out on the piano, played it on the harmonica or whatever, probably come up with the first draft of the lyrics. I couldn’t so it any other way. Others start with a riff or a catchy beat and add the melody over the top. Either method can work just as well, but to me, it’s always pretty clear which way it was done.

That’s awesome and I can do it, but it’s not as intuitive to me. One of my daughters sang a beautiful little melody to me the other day, just her singing, and I came up with a guitar verse that works with it, but it’s nothing special, just not very good at it. It’s truly a joy for me to come up with a riff and then see what the melody makers come up with. Same with drummers, seeing what they feel and want to do with it. Then cooking up kewl bass lines, the second guitar. Just pure joy.

 
     
Larry Gude Joined May 23, 2017
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Jul 20, 2018, 03:26 PM
Gary E. Andrews - 19 July 2018 12:09 PM

I doubt it was simply the ‘beat’ that they thought sounded like the other Song.

If I sang;
Happy day! Happy day! Happy day to you!
to the tune of “Jingle Bells” you’d probably spot it right away. It’s usually that Melody ‘similarity’ or identical pitch of notes that tip people off.

A friend had started writing a new Song but stopped because he said it was my “Number On The Wall” Song. He played his and I saw nothing in it that sounded similar to mine.

Another friend started a Songwriting challenge for all of us to write a Song about birds. When we came together again she had the same story, started one, quit because it “...was “Little Brown Church In The Vale”...(if memory serves).

Another, experienced player, cover Song master of decades, said, “I can’t write an original Melody.” People ‘know’ so many other Songs they hear those others every time they start.

Another, experienced player, came to the house with the new Eagles record (vinyl, years ago) and picked up my guitar and played along with every Song. Every time I’d start out a Song or just strummed a few chords he would say, “Is that…” and name some Song he knew that was in that key.

Despite Songwriting for thousands of years the possibilities have not been exhausted. One must be on one’s guard against imitation or duplication, plagiarism, but there is still room for originality.

The recent Sam Smith/Tom Petty Melody match comes to mind. I think Smith’s got a Grammy or something before someone pointed out the “Won’t Back Down” three-note identicality of Smith’s “Stay With Me”. Both Songs repeated the words with another three-note step-down, if memory serves. Santana’s “Evil Ways” and the Zombies’ “She’s Not There”. George Harrison’s “My Sweet Lord” and “She’s So Fine”

It’s partly Arrangement, the key, the chord progression, tempo, but it’s mainly Melody of the Lyric that people will spot as being too close to another work’s Melody.


See, that just doesn’t happen as a Neanderthal guitar player! I hear similarities in stuff, but even then, if it’s different, it’s different. We did one song several years ago that is a lot like Simple man but, it simply, to a guitar player, is NOT. You can play it to the beat, the tempo, of simple man, but it’s different, different key, different feel as a player. I don’t hear it at all. Some people hear it, right away; “Simple man!” others hear an old Metallica tune and don’t hear simple man, at all! LOL. And no one who hears simple man also hears the Metallica song. So, there’s something comforting about not knowing any better. LOL

 
     
Larry Gude Joined May 23, 2017
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Jul 20, 2018, 05:21 PM

Buckcherry “Underneath” https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=sIJIcKyaUho

https://soundcloud.com/user-495889557-601500679/descent-into-chaos

Yes, those opening chords on Buckcherry’s sound just like yours. They of course take off with a Lyric/Vocal shortly after the Introductory Movement and vary greatly from yours. But their guitar Intro sounds very much like yours throughout.

There will always be another song to be written. Someone will write it. Why not you? http://www.garyeandrews.com

 
     
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Gary E. Andrews Joined Apr 12, 2005
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Jul 20, 2018, 05:27 PM
Larry Gude - 20 July 2018 03:01 PM
Gary E. Andrews - 19 July 2018 12:09 PM

I doubt it was simply the ‘beat’ that they thought sounded like the other Song.

If I sang;
Happy day! Happy day! Happy day to you!
to the tune of “Jingle Bells” you’d probably spot it right away. It’s usually that Melody ‘similarity’ or identical pitch of notes that tip people off.
.

I LOVE this topic! So, take a listen to my scratch track; https://soundcloud.com/user-495889557-601500679/descent-into-chaos

Then listen to ‘Underneath’ by Buckcherry and tell me what you hear. I hear NOT substantially similar, at all! I think they all talked themselves into it and that was the end of it, tainted for life!

And to the happy birthday thing, Lorraine, when the whole Buchcherry controversy came up in the other band, to pile on the fun everyone was having at my expense, sang “Living after midnight’ by Judas Priest to EVERY riff I came up with for the next couple weeks! LOL

So, the thing is, I am an original! Just like everyone else!  LOL

There’s a definite similarity, but they’re not the same. To be honest, I had to listen a couple of times to spot the difference LOL. But it’s there. They’re both pretty basic riffs. I don’t think anyone could think you’d copied it.

 
     
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Gavin Sinclair Joined Dec 02, 2014
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