Songwriting. What does that word mean to you? and how do you do it?

Anything about MUSIC but doesn't fit into the forums above.
N__K
KVRist
151 posts since 26 Mar, 2017

Post Sun Dec 05, 2021 6:32 pm

Songwriting. What does that word mean to you? and how do you do it?
I think of a song as having lyrics, those being structured rhytmically to some extent, and with or without pitch changes.

I usually write a story or poem (often in rhyming verse) and decide on some approximate style/genre for it. For melodic parts, I decide on chord progressions that seem to fit with the mood of the lyrics (or counter it, if going for that intentionally), and then set the words/syllables to pitches that relate/contrast to the chords.

Deciding on pitches of syllables can be interesting challenge, especially when tailoring to a specific singer or aiming for "karaoke compatibility" (being easy to sing for anyone).

Also fun are the aspects of composing for different pitch ranges. What pitches to give to basses and baritones vs. to altos and sopranos; when can a melody be given to bass, etc.
And then there's the sound color/timbre to experiment with.


Nominally non-pitched lyrics are interesting to work with as well. Whispering, speechlike, rap, screamlike growl etc. Sometimes, when message of the lyrics is most important, trying to make the lines melodic/pitched can actually take away from the expression. At other times, making the lyrics clearly pitched is most effective. Both can happen in same song.


As always, learning from existing examples via analysis is fascinating.

User avatar
Synthack
KVRist
351 posts since 4 Dec, 2021

Post Sun Dec 05, 2021 7:56 pm

Whenever I think of a songwriter I picture someone sitting at a piano or strumming a guitar and singing their heart out. You know like the Elton Johns and Curt Cobains of the world.

Songwriting really reminds me of poetry in some ways.
Do you have them all yet?

ShawnG
KVRian
987 posts since 27 Apr, 2005

Post Sun Dec 05, 2021 8:11 pm

Dasheesh wrote:
Mon Oct 25, 2021 1:22 pm
also, i cannot believe i am teaching a generation that gave us edm this ish, but here i am.
How old are you? I’m near as makes no difference 50 years old, and EDM was conceived by a generation older than me.

ShawnG
KVRian
987 posts since 27 Apr, 2005

Post Sun Dec 05, 2021 8:27 pm

If you compose melodies, basic harmonic structure, and/or lyrics you are a songwriter.

If you work with determining song form and structure, deciding which instruments play which parts, and transpose music to be best understood by players of those instruments, you are an arranger.

If you make decisions and excercise editorial control over all the processes by which a recorded piece of music is created, you are a producer.

If you oversee the technical details of a recording session, you are an engineer.

If you play an instrument or sing, you are a musician.

If you do all of these things, you are probably hard to be around. Lol.


I am a musician, and a songwriter (past tense mostly). I’ve written a ton of songs that were once performed publicly, but never ever recorded, so I’m not much of a producer.

ShawnG
KVRian
987 posts since 27 Apr, 2005

Post Sun Dec 05, 2021 8:29 pm

Synthack wrote:
Sun Dec 05, 2021 7:56 pm
Whenever I think of a songwriter I picture someone sitting at a piano or strumming a guitar and singing their heart out. You know like the Elton Johns and Curt Cobains of the world.

Songwriting really reminds me of poetry in some ways.
And Elton never wrote lyrics. Still a songwriter.

User avatar
Synthack
KVRist
351 posts since 4 Dec, 2021

Post Sun Dec 05, 2021 8:37 pm

ShawnG wrote:
Sun Dec 05, 2021 8:27 pm
If you do all of these things, you are probably hard to be around. Lol.
Jeff Lynne seems like a pretty chill guy to be around.

https://www.laweekly.com/jeff-lynne-sit ... him-there/
Do you have them all yet?

ShawnG
KVRian
987 posts since 27 Apr, 2005

Post Sun Dec 05, 2021 8:46 pm

From the article it seems he’s hard to be around as well. He rarely invites anyone in. My joke was just a dumb throwaway line, you’ve probably given it more thought than I did when I wrote it. It’s all good.

User avatar
BONES
GRRRRRRR!
12714 posts since 14 Jun, 2001 from Somewhere else, on principle

Post Sun Dec 05, 2021 8:49 pm

foosnark wrote:
Fri Oct 22, 2021 1:30 pm
We don't call authors producers, we don't call painters producers, we don't call photographers producers, we don't call dancers producers, we don't call cabinetmakers producers, etc.
Not formally but we definitely could describe them as such if we wanted to - authors produce books/stories, painters produce paintings, photographers produce photographs and cabinet makers produce cabinets (dancers are performers, choreographers are their producers).
I just think that naming your work a "product" in advance gives you a certain preconceived notion about it that affects what goes into its creation. It becomes less of an artwork or a labor of love, and more something that is supposed to compete in a "market".
That's only because of connotations you place on that word. It has none of those connotations for me and our products are also works of art. Or, to put it the other way around, our works of art are products of our labour and creativity. Placing a monetary value on your art doesn't detract from it in any way and wanting to be compensated for your time and effort is perfectly reasonable.
BertKoor wrote:
Sat Oct 23, 2021 4:41 am
Songwriting is the act of writing songs. A song has melody and lyrics. Good songs can be performed with just a singer and a piano or guitar, and still have a strong impact.

This distinguishes songwriters from producers. The first group aims for touching ones heart with minimal resources, the second group finds joy in polishing turds.
Except the two things aren't mutually exclusive and I think most of would strive to be good at both things because one improves the other. i.e. A good song with good production is likely to be better than another good song with average production. We should strive to make it all as good as we can make it.
Hewitt Huntwork wrote:
Sat Oct 23, 2021 4:16 am
For some people no words are required, for others, no melody. That's all fine. What matters is that ideas and feelings are carried by sound from one intelligence to another.
I don't see how it can be a song without lyrics/vocals. It's just a piece of music until you add words. You compose music, you write songs.
Double Tap wrote:
Sun Oct 24, 2021 6:00 am
Songwriter implies singing, which implies lyrics, but because we have "instrumentals" as a form of song I don't think a song necessarily has to have lyrics. Not only that, but most of the pieces of music that people create have song-like structures. It may sound weird to refer to an ambient song or a drum'n'bass song or a trap song, but that doesn't mean that they can't be considered as songs
You just contradicted yourself. As you said at the top - "song" implies singing. Without singing, it can't be a song. An instrumental is a "piece (of music)", not a "song". And that's the essential difference - we already have the word "music", a "song" is a particular form that includes singing. You can't have a song without music but you can have music without song.
NOVAkILL : Zenbook Duo, Core i7, 16GB RAM, Win10(64), Evo8 | Studio One | JP6K, Union, Hexeract, bx_oberhausen, Odyssey, TRK-01, Vacuum Pro, Invader, Concept, GR-8, Thorn, Equator, Olga, VG Iron | Uno Pro, Uno, Rocket.

User avatar
BONES
GRRRRRRR!
12714 posts since 14 Jun, 2001 from Somewhere else, on principle

Post Sun Dec 05, 2021 9:06 pm

ShawnG wrote:
Sun Dec 05, 2021 8:27 pm
If you play an instrument or sing, you are a musician.
I play an instrument and sing and I can assure you I am not a musician's arsehole. I think the term performer is more descriptive of what I do. To me, a musician is someone with skills that I have no interest in acquiring.
ShawnG wrote:
Sun Dec 05, 2021 8:29 pm
And Elton never wrote lyrics. Still a songwriter.
We need to know more about his process. If he wrote the vocal melodies and Bernie Taupin just wrote words to fit then yes, he is a song-writer but if he left all the vocal melodies to Bernie, then he was just the composer of the backing track.

I think of myself as an accidental songwriter. It's not something I necessarily set out to do but, invariably, I end up with songs so that makes me a songwriter. Actually, I think of myself as half of a songwriting team because all our best songs are collaborative.

I also value songs above pieces of music. I mostly find music pretty easy but the process of writing lyrics and making it all work together is much harder and, when it's done, it feels like more of an accomplishment. That said, every now and then a piece just feels right without vocals, so we do put the occasional instrumental on our albums. But I could never imagine listening to a whole album of instrumental music. I find that I need vocals to hold my interest, no matter how good the music is. e.g. I really love PERTURBATOR but I can never listen to a whole album before I'm bored and put something else on.
NOVAkILL : Zenbook Duo, Core i7, 16GB RAM, Win10(64), Evo8 | Studio One | JP6K, Union, Hexeract, bx_oberhausen, Odyssey, TRK-01, Vacuum Pro, Invader, Concept, GR-8, Thorn, Equator, Olga, VG Iron | Uno Pro, Uno, Rocket.

User avatar
Double Tap
KVRist
391 posts since 9 Jun, 2020

Post Mon Dec 06, 2021 1:11 am

BONES wrote:
Sun Dec 05, 2021 8:49 pm
You just contradicted yourself.
Coming from the king of self-contradiction, I'll take that as compliment. Thanks!

N__K
KVRist
151 posts since 26 Mar, 2017

Post Mon Dec 06, 2021 6:31 am

ShawnG wrote:
Sun Dec 05, 2021 8:27 pm
If you do all of these things, you are probably hard to be around. Lol.
That is a seriously good summation :)

It can be a kind of reverse self-fulfilling prophecy: if one is hard to be around, one ends up doing everything by oneself.

The value of that is arguable. To my limited knowledge, some of "Le groupe, c'est moi" fellows end up creating good results, while others... do not.

User avatar
vurt
addled muppet weed
88264 posts since 26 Jan, 2003 from through the looking glass

Post Mon Dec 06, 2021 2:31 pm

ShawnG wrote:
Sun Dec 05, 2021 8:11 pm
Dasheesh wrote:
Mon Oct 25, 2021 1:22 pm
also, i cannot believe i am teaching a generation that gave us edm this ish, but here i am.
How old are you? I’m near as makes no difference 50 years old, and EDM was conceived by a generation older than me.
hes pretty much the same age as you and i.
he does this a lot "grrr the kids!!!" :roll: its getting old now, so old, its older than the people hes talking about.

User avatar
vurt
addled muppet weed
88264 posts since 26 Jan, 2003 from through the looking glass

Post Mon Dec 06, 2021 2:33 pm

BONES wrote:
Sun Dec 05, 2021 8:49 pm
foosnark wrote:
Fri Oct 22, 2021 1:30 pm
We don't call authors producers, we don't call painters producers, we don't call photographers producers, we don't call dancers producers, we don't call cabinetmakers producers, etc.
Not formally but we definitely could describe them as such if we wanted to - authors produce books/stories, painters produce paintings, photographers produce photographs and cabinet makers produce cabinets (dancers are performers, choreographers are their producers).
I just think that naming your work a "product" in advance gives you a certain preconceived notion about it that affects what goes into its creation. It becomes less of an artwork or a labor of love, and more something that is supposed to compete in a "market".
That's only because of connotations you place on that word. It has none of those connotations for me and our products are also works of art. Or, to put it the other way around, our works of art are products of our labour and creativity. Placing a monetary value on your art doesn't detract from it in any way and wanting to be compensated for your time and effort is perfectly reasonable.
BertKoor wrote:
Sat Oct 23, 2021 4:41 am
Songwriting is the act of writing songs. A song has melody and lyrics. Good songs can be performed with just a singer and a piano or guitar, and still have a strong impact.

This distinguishes songwriters from producers. The first group aims for touching ones heart with minimal resources, the second group finds joy in polishing turds.
Except the two things aren't mutually exclusive and I think most of would strive to be good at both things because one improves the other. i.e. A good song with good production is likely to be better than another good song with average production. We should strive to make it all as good as we can make it.
Hewitt Huntwork wrote:
Sat Oct 23, 2021 4:16 am
For some people no words are required, for others, no melody. That's all fine. What matters is that ideas and feelings are carried by sound from one intelligence to another.
I don't see how it can be a song without lyrics/vocals. It's just a piece of music until you add words. You compose music, you write songs.
Double Tap wrote:
Sun Oct 24, 2021 6:00 am
Songwriter implies singing, which implies lyrics, but because we have "instrumentals" as a form of song I don't think a song necessarily has to have lyrics. Not only that, but most of the pieces of music that people create have song-like structures. It may sound weird to refer to an ambient song or a drum'n'bass song or a trap song, but that doesn't mean that they can't be considered as songs
You just contradicted yourself. As you said at the top - "song" implies singing. Without singing, it can't be a song. An instrumental is a "piece (of music)", not a "song". And that's the essential difference - we already have the word "music", a "song" is a particular form that includes singing. You can't have a song without music but you can have music without song.
where do you stand on "glossolalia"?

User avatar
zerocrossing
KVRAF
11524 posts since 26 Jun, 2006 from San Francisco Bay Area

Post Mon Dec 06, 2021 2:55 pm

If I go into an uninterrupted period of daydreaming, songs just happen as a result. I can’t help it.
Zerocrossing Media

4th Law of Robotics: When turning evil, display a red indicator light. ~[ ●_● ]~

User avatar
zerocrossing
KVRAF
11524 posts since 26 Jun, 2006 from San Francisco Bay Area

Post Mon Dec 06, 2021 3:05 pm

foosnark wrote:
Fri Oct 22, 2021 5:03 am
Composing is a more general term, but also not really what I do. I am all about improvisation.
I’d say that there’s not much difference at the core of composition vs. improvisation. Composition might be a bit more deliberate and have the specter of having a finished piece (Product?) at the end of the process, but really, both are about accessing a creative state in which music happens.

I used to write a lot of pop songs when I played in pop bands (not to be confused with popular bands. :lol:) I’d either go into a daydream and sort of start mentally improvising little lines, or sit with an instrument and noodle until some phrase caught my attention and from that start building a “song” or “composition.” (Not sure if there’s a difference..) Now, like you, I am all about improvisation, but in a sense I’m just writing a song as I play it. I’ve completed total songs that are 100% improvised. The difference between those that I consider completed songs and those that I don’t, is usually a bit of editing. So, the “production” part of things is editing and polishing bits with the idea in mind that it can be (though rarely) listened to repeatedly. A flaw that will barely be noticed in a live show, can loom large on the 3rd listen to something.
Zerocrossing Media

4th Law of Robotics: When turning evil, display a red indicator light. ~[ ●_● ]~

Return to “Everything Else (Music related)”