Man, two topics in as many days. I am on fire. Or something.
Hey anyway, I am creating this topic for a few reasons. What I hope to garner here is some knowledge on writing music.
I have been writing music for years. In fact, I have several pieces in various formats of being finished. Some are complete, some are close, some are just riffs, dozens are sets of lyrics in various levels of being complete, some are just ideas. A lot of my spare time is met with working on music. Sometimes learning other peoples' songs, but these days I primarily work on my own. After all, you won't get famous covering other peoples' songs. :P
Now, lately I have been wanting to expand on what I do. Because I feel stifled these days. A lot of my chord progressions have that "heard that before" quality to them. And I will outright destroy lyrics I am working on if they don't actually stand out to me these days. Too many songs about being cranky and too many songs about Norse Myth tend to trip you up when you want to write about something different. I, like, can't solo at all. I have written a grand total of about four solos. Only ONE of them is actually good. And this is after, like, seven years of playing.
So this thread is kind of a learning thing. I know there are several other musicians here, so I want to kind of... Learn from them, how they compose a song. Or a riff. Or a set of lyrics. Not that I feel I am doing anything wrong and not that I want to rip off anyone's style, I just want to see what other people do. See if I might be able to refine my process.
Now, normally, for myself, I tend to do lyrics first. I come up with a nice title and then write my verses, pre-chorus, chorus, bridge, solo section, etc. Whatever I need for the text to be complete. I have a chart that I have been using lately before I actually write lyrics. Cause too often I will just sit down and write. With no title. No inspiration. No concept. And I despise this, cause too many of my lyrics become generic if I just go at lyrics.
This is the formation.
Song Outline > Song Title (Extended Title Here)
Main Idea> A quick thought of what the song is based around / on.
Story Concept > A more in depth look at what the song is based around / on.
Themes > Varying and recurring ideas that appear in the song.
Key Words > Words that play a key role in telling the story.
Imagery > Images / metaphors / similes that play a key role in telling the story.
Related Works > Other songs, stories, games, movies, books that are comparable to the song.
Influences > Any media that may have influenced me creating the song.
Conceptual Characters > Any characters that may appear in the storyline.
Conceptual Iconography > Any religious, scientific, literary icons that may appear in the song.
Outline > The actual breakdown of the plot of the story.
This may seem incredibly pretentious and unwarranted, but it does the job for me so my songs don't sound like random Slayer or random Evanescence.
As for the music, I have either learned what I know now from trial and error, just fucking around with a guitar or piano, bits I have learned from friends, stuff I have assimilated from tabs of other people's music. So thusly, I know very very very little theory. Something that is hurting my creativity at the moment since Prog is starting to influence me incredibly.
To combat this fact, I am currently reviewing John Perucci's Rock Discipline DVD and hopefully soon, Jordan Rudess's Keyboard Wizardry DVD. Dream Theater are one of my favorite bands now and have influenced me to think more when writing. Instead of just busting out some wykked fazt ryffz.
I have also been influenced by Arjen Lucassed in the fact that I have learned that indeed a song doesn't have to be fast to be good. Dan Swano influenced me to learn the piano. Skyclad, Loreena McKennitt, and Elvenking have inspired me to add Folksy sounding passages, or in regards tp my song Faraway, to just write a Folk song with one guitar and one set of vocals.
This is something else that Ayreon has influenced me with. Vocals. I like to add a fair amount of vocal flaire to my compositions. Clean male vocals, clean female vocals, Death Metal vocals, harmonies, harsh vocals, soft vocals... I try to keep things busy, or else I get bored. The same monitone vocalist tends to get boring to me. Probably why I can't ever listen to Thrash anymore.
I also tend to write anywhere up to five or six various guitar parts at any time for any part of a song. Although, I believe I may keep the guitar count at four and use the other two channels as keyboards. Kind of like how Dan Swano uses synth AND hammond at the same time on his incredible Moontower album.
Now, all of this is fine and dandy from a "Losfer needs to stop rambling" standpoint, but here is the important part.
Putting it all together.
I often get confused with phrasing and technicality and tonality and key switching and whatnot. Making a great riff and matching it up with another great riff is one thing, but what can you do when you only know so much?
I've got a gallop riff, I've got a sad acoustic bit, I've got a catchy chorus, there are hooks and time changes everywhere, but... You can only repeat the same formula so many times before you lose interest.
Along with the DT dudez' DVDz, I am also partial to the Guitar Grimoire series of books shown to me by Mister Darkrider. I currently have the scales and modes book, with hopefully getting the chord book soon.
I used to pop everything in Powertab, cause my skills were less than stellar. Now I just use Cubase, cause Cubase is like a pizza that Jesus made.
Cause I know everyone's attention is waning, I will make the next bit the important one.
What I need for help from my fellow musicians is:
- Some suggestions of DVDs, books, courses, web pages, other media, and whatnot that simply break down the song writing process.
- Some suggestions on how to accentuate my playing lead. On guitar and piano.
- ...Some suggestions on media to teach me how to PROPERLY play piano !
- Ideas on how to better incorporate lyric writing into the actual song structure. Hard to put twenty lines of lyrics into a simple vocal passage. :P
- What /you guys/ do when creating music and lyrics.
- What has inspired /you/ in the realms of song writing.
- What instruments you play, what you use to record, what you write about.
- Simply put, let's just chat up on this interweb about song creation. I am really quite curious as to how you guys compose.
I think that's it. :|