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Music First Then Lyrics, Or Lyrics First Then Music

Discussion in 'Band Management' started by RIP, May 12, 2018.

  1. RIP

    RIP California U.S.A. Good Vibe Sponsor

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    I wonder sometimes how songs I hear on the radio were written

    I guess the answer would be, it depends......thoughts?
     
  2. jester

    jester ocdemon Moderator

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    I would agree yes it depends. Perhaps you have the musical ideas first and they need lyrics. Or some cool poem or words that have nice rhythm into themselves that you need to dress up with some music. What's good about all this is that most often than not it won't be the same person doing both so it will require some nice teamwork to pull it off.

    I recently watched this video after one of my favourite bands reunited, the guitarist comments on how they go about writing. You might find it interesting (9:00 mark).

     
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  3. Hardy

    Hardy Supporting Member Good Vibe Sponsor

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    The songs I „wrote“ I mostly started with the rhythm guitar line. But I very early think about the lyrics, let’s say about the structure, not about words. Our singer often changes the lyrics because he better knows what he can sing and what does not work on stage.
     
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  4. jester

    jester ocdemon Moderator

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  5. Bassist4Eris

    Bassist4Eris

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    I mostly write instrumental music these days, but when I do write lyrics, I find that the lyrics (at least the first couple of lines) show up in my head simultaneously with the vocal melody itself. The whole thing is one unit. Then of course I need to write the rest of the words. So the question for me is, do I write the melody/lyrics first, or the chords/accompaniment? And the answer to that is.... it depends.
     
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  6. Jay2U

    Jay2U Good Vibe Sponsor

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    If it comes to lyrics, I'm rather simple. If it rhymes, fits the rhythm and more or less fits the style, I'm fine with it.
     
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  7. DiMarco

    DiMarco nutcase Good Vibe Sponsor

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    A concept first forms in the mind. Words come while physically working on that.
     
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  8. Toepfer

    Toepfer Supporting Member Good Vibe Sponsor

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    I find it a lot easyer to write music, when there are lyrics.
    Our singer always needs the music to write lyrics. So ...
     
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  9. ectoflanger

    ectoflanger Supporting Member

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    For me, the most important thing is the meaning behind the song. I find that lyrics may evolve during the song writing process, but the meaning has to be there first.

    Oddly the first two songs I wrote with vocal melodies-- in the first one the bass line was the first part I wrote, then the vocal melody, then a brief lead guitar intro, next the rhythm guitar with some arpeggiation. I already hear the whole ensemble in my head from beginning to end, but need to get it all recorded. The second was the guitar first, then the vocal, and still tweaking the bass line.

    For me, once I have the meaning and lyrics, even the intro and the coda of the song write themselves.

    But lyric writing is difficult-- it's like combining poetry with sound. I wrote poetry in the early-80's, then later prose. But it's been only relatively recently that I've been able to write lyrics, and only today sent some off to the copyright office. But I spent 3 hours last Wednesday adding the last two stanzas before tweaking it yet again last night, finally finishing something I began years ago.
     
    Last edited: Apr 26, 2019
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  10. ectoflanger

    ectoflanger Supporting Member

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    This seemed to work pretty well for Elton John and Bernie Taupin-

    "
    “I just go to the studio and there’s 24 lyrics waiting for me and I look through them and see which one I want to start with, and then I try to write a song. I never, ever know what the lyrics are gonna be up front,” he told US talk show host Jimmy Kimmel.

    “When I first started working with Bernie it was exactly the same as it is now; I would get a lyric, I would go away and write the melody and play it to him. That’s never changed. It’s the same thing now and it’s as exciting now as it was then. So if I write a song on this album and I’ve finished it I go and bring him in and say, ‘Listen, this is the song,’ and then the band come in and learn it and we put it down."
     
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  11. jester

    jester ocdemon Moderator

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    Have I posted again here? I think the answer is both. But I find the lyrics first approach more appealing. Words have rhythm so they can be considered music by themselves. Then you need the right clothing for the naked words.
     
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  12. ectoflanger

    ectoflanger Supporting Member

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    Last night I sent the final draft of the lyrics to the first track to a guitarist friend who now lives in Northern California and he said it inspired him to play along. He still remembered the melody of the vocals after a number of years.

    So I’m encouraged given that we were estranged from last June to this past mid-March. I had been trying to get him on board for quite a while. The thing is he liked to jam but not get too serious about it, and I’m just the opposite. It’s all or nothing for me.

    But I’ve already pretty much written all the guitar parts, now I need to learn to play them and then teach someone else. It’s really weird because pulling something out of your head and finding the notes on the fretboard can be like trying to learn a cover tune.

    Thing is I don’t really enjoy playing the guitar that much anymore, I’d rather play bass. But I love being creative in all its forms and the final product. Even if my instrument is a DA sander or Dremel tool.
     
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  13. ectoflanger

    ectoflanger Supporting Member

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    I hope I don’t get prosecuted for nudity across state lines! :D
     
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  14. Florin

    Florin Warwick Forum Administrator Staff Member

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    In most of the bands I've been it was music first, than lyrics, and this is a pain in the ass, especially in Romanian. Unlike English, the spoken ROmanian language have a more complicated metric, which is not easy to put in rock music.
    In my current band, the singer listen the song, then he sees a movie in his imagination, then he put that movie into words. Usually the melody comes together with the lyrics, so he kinda writes them together after the instrumental part is done.
    Many succesful songwriters use gibberish to sing the vocal line first, and then keep key words that sound musical. So pretty often, songgwriters chose words and phrases that sound musical, even if they don't make much sense, and that's a cool trick. You hear the melody, and sing it with the first words that come to mind, than keep the most musical words and build the lyrics around them.
    But really there are no rules, each band/ songwriter creates his own algorithm of making music and usually stick with it, and become more and more efficient in time. There is no shortcut for this, in the beginning it can be painfully slow, and then you create a method and follow it. I know many people that are able to compose one song per day lyrics included, but it takes a lot of time to become routine.
     
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  15. Florin

    Florin Warwick Forum Administrator Staff Member

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    "online rhymes dictionary" is a very good friend :)
     
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  16. Florin

    Florin Warwick Forum Administrator Staff Member

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    A cool trick I sometimes use when starting from lyrics is just reading them loud and record that first. The natural human speech has already a melody in it, so when I listen to it I have a good idea of how the final melody will sound like, and I try to make it as natural as possible, like ... an enhanced melody in the natural speech. Usually you cannot go wrong with that. Also we avoid using words and phrases that we would not use when chatting around a beer. It is a good thing to use a simple language to describe intense emotions.
    Also I think the true emotion should come from the msuic itself, while lyrics should give you just an idea of what's the song about. I find too poetic lyrics a bit boring and redundant, because in my humble opinion the real poetry is the music itself.

    Rant over :)
     
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  17. ectoflanger

    ectoflanger Supporting Member

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    I can agree with that after all, in the words of Edgar Allan Poe-

    “Shadows of shadows passing…

    It is now 1831 and, as always, I am absorbed with a delicate thought—it is how poetry has indefinite sensations, to which end, music is an essential, since the comprehension of sweet sound is our most indefinite conception.

    Music, when combined with a pleasurable idea, is poetry. Music without the idea is simply music.

    Without music, or an intriguing idea, color becomes pallor, man becomes carcass, home becomes catacomb, and the dead are, but for a moment, motionless…”
     
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