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Thread: NEWBIES - article - some techniques for writing/producing songs.

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    NEWBIES - article - some techniques for writing/producing songs.

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    NEWBIES - WRITING GOOD SONGS - HOW.
    -----------------------------------------------------
    The purpose of this mini article is to give rank newbies
    some ideas for writing songs based on my own experiences
    in having written over 400 songs.
    hope it helps some folks.
    In advance let me say , i dont have all the answers,
    but from emails i get from around the world on my songs at
    soundclick it seems there are huge opportunities in the
    market STILL for newcomers.
    1. I have to say, dont be afraid of writing sloppy love songs.
    I KNOW its not "cool", and not "macho", but the world STILL
    seems to like a sloppy love song. And i'm not being chauvenistic when i say this, but the fact is women are huge buyers of sloppy love songs.
    I KNOW we are in the dance/hiphop/beats market now, but
    as populations age their buying patterns change.
    Todays young buyers of beat culture invariably
    will be tommorrows buyer of sloppy love songs as they age.
    In summary consider some romantic songs in your portfolio
    of songwriting efforts. Ive lost count of the number of people
    whove wailed to me about songwriters not writing such songs mow.
    Even though my heart is in rock ive lost count of the number
    of folks that bought my song "Springtime and love" at various markets over the years.
    people, even though they dont like to admit it, still are
    romantics at heart.
    2. A lot of newbie songwriters tell me they sit down to write,
    and often they hit a blank wall. There are many solutions
    to get through "the blank wall". One is to listen to a lot
    of current events on TV or read the newspaper. A news report might give you an idea for a song. One example of this is my song
    "lost little boy" . The song came about because i read a sad
    story about a child that was lost.
    Another of my songs "missile" came about because of my reading an in depth news story about the nuclear threat when i was younger.
    so media is a good source for song ideas like the daily news.
    another source is just listening to people around town.
    sometimes you might hear a phrase that gives you an idea.
    for example i heard two people talking one day and one said i'm
    not concerned. this gave rise to another of my songs.
    In summary always keep your ears tuned to events around you
    for song ideas. I'm lucky. I rarely get stuck. but some
    songwriters keep a big dictionary handy , and every day go through the dictionary reading words that might give them a song idea.
    One TIP i CAN give you, particularly guitar players is dont write
    a song from playing something on your guitar. Do it the other
    way around. IE: hear the song in your head THEN figure out
    where the guitar parts and lead breaks should be.
    A final tip, keep a note book or portable recorder handy when your out of the house . so you can quickly record your ideas for when you are back in your little home studio. ive found ideas can come anytime.
    3. Lets talk "Hooks". This is probably the MOST IMPORTANT ASPECT of songwriting. If you want a successfull song the world wants to buy or play, you must have HOOKS. Practically every hit record thats been recorded in the past has HOOKS.
    what is a HOOK ? In summary its a bit of
    music ( either vocal or instrumental or both or a sound picture)
    that TWIGS PEOPLE DOWN THEIR GUT. examples of hooks would be the superb guitar intro thats unmistakeable on johnny rivers secret agent man song, or the intro to pink floyds money or the intro to china grove, and there are millions of other examples. The whole idea of the HOOK is to lay down an unmistakeable sonic signature.
    if you analyse a lot of major selling songs they all have a commonality -
    HOOKS GALORE. in summary try and write songs with hooks.
    in a successfull song there should be hooks in many places.
    firstly , the INTRO to grab the listeners attention. the first 10
    seconds are crucial to success. then in the middle of the song,
    maybe an interesting change or lead break, and then at the end of the song. many classic songs have many hooks scattered throughout.
    Some hook based songwriters are often accused of selling out.
    my view is if you want to make even a mediocre living at songwriting, you have no choice but to make your primary focus THE HOOK.
    like i tried to on the guitar intro i put in my song
    "Pretty girls and fancy cars" that a lot of people have told me
    they like or the middle lead break in "hide me" or the vegas style vocal hook ending i put in "Hi tech Man" that had so many thousands of plays.
    A TON of work i must say. Or notice the intro thats beaty to
    "key lime pie". Okay i sold out to the hook. but the songs just would not sound as good without hooks. I particularly like the threatening hook intro to "missile". fits the song perfectly. as many folks have told me,
    and again on the out of the song with the little missile going off in the distance.
    a TON of work once again.
    4. Lets talk SOUND PICTURE. imho this is the other vitally important aspect of songwriting. but in this case related to how you ENGINEER THE SONG.
    you can have hooks galore, but if the sound picture isnt correct.
    the song fails. for example i failed miserably on building the
    sound picture on some of my songs like under attack. it just didnt work unfortunately.
    you have your good days and bad days. all part of the gig.
    yet from emails ive had it DID WORK on "woohoo". This was an interesting song.
    I was going for a vintage 50's vibe. and it seems to work from what folks tell me. This was a TON OF WORK. including double tracked vocals. and getting the backing guitar parts right.
    So WHAT DO YOU MEAN BY SOUND PICTURE MANNING ? you might ask.
    well, the simple answer is it has to be like a painting , but in this case your a SOUND PAINTER. In summary all the tracks when engineered have to playback with an overall pleasing texture.
    A TIP for you. When i'm painting sound i continually leave my control room with the door open and try and put myself in the listeners context casually listening to the
    song. and continually asking myself - IS IT A PLEASING PICTURE ?
    this is the key to my mind.
    5. Another tip is dont be afraid of trying different things.
    and putting weird things in a song. not everything has to be
    the standard 3/4/5 musicians/instruments approach if your writing a song.
    for example i use dog barks in my comedic song limeyrap,
    as well as lots of off the wall humor. It all depends what the
    song calls for. for example try some special effects to add interest like i did with the missile effect in the missile song. Also the use of different weird instruments can lift a song. so - for interest - add something different ? perhaps ? ever tried a lute ? or some medieval instrument ? if you search around you can find books listing thousands of instruments that might give you different track ideas.
    6. My final tip is there is a slew of info on the internet,
    and in books dealing with songwriting and the art of engineering.
    lots of places to pick up tips on how various sounds were obtained in the past on records including mic techniques. Use these resources.

    Let me say in closing once again, its a tremendous struggle and lots of work engineering songs, building hooks and sound pictures.
    some songs have taken me 400 hours of work.
    but dont be put off by failure. i fail all the time, its all part
    of the learning process.
    I see all the time newbies that buy at large expense a studio,
    try a few songs then give up after a few months.
    PLEASE NEVER GIVE UP !! Yes - writing and engineering a good song is tons of work and in many cases not related to how much money one spends on equipment. ITS WORK. tons of hard gruelling work. particularly trying various engineering techniques.
    like doubling tracking and stacking tracks and mixing,
    But i urge you to keep going. There are great songs in you all.
    you just have to dig deep and find them .
    I hope by sharing some of these experiences it helps newbies with some ideas for songwriting.
    My own signature is I'M STILL LEARNING.
    One day i know i'll be in the retirement home many years hence STILL TRYING TO WRITE ONE LAST GREAT SONG !

    have a happy new year to all on homerec.

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    Very good article.
    PS: Maybe you'd get more views at the Songwriting forum.

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    thanks shark for the kind comment. thought i would post it here because newbies seem to focus on this forum.

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    Yeah, I could see that, but as you may know, many "newbies" that come to this forum are looking for recording, gear, software tips. Many of them don't compose. I guess that in the Songwriting forum you'd have a bigger audience.

    Anyway, it was a nice article! Good job!

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    bloodshark . per your suggestion ive posted in the songwriters forum to make them aware of these articles.

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    Just read your article 'manning'..It was great..I paticularly like the fact that you encourage everyone to experiment, and not to give up...while reminding them of some important facts..IF thier intentions are to sell thier songs.. I'm not a newbie to songwriting...but I've never sold one either..but I never tried...geeeeeze..I need to get off my rear and do some promoting !!!!! keep up the great advice....

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    Where have you been? I thought they had managed to finally piss you off enough that you weren't coming back. Glad to see you posting again, Manning.
    Instead of a Do Not Disturb Sign, I need one that says "Already Disturbed. Proceed With Caution".

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    Uh, Rokket....... have you looked at the date of this thread?
    [size=1][b]bruce valeriani
    [url=http://www.bluebearsound.com/articles]recording articles[/url][/b]

    [url=http://www.bluebearsound.com][img]http://www.bluebearsound.com/images/bb_siglogo.jpg[/img][/url][/size]

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    Quote Originally Posted by Rokket
    Where have you been? I thought they had managed to finally piss you off enough that you weren't coming back. Glad to see you posting again, Manning.
    He's not back as we were very successful in driving him off months ago.



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    Damn this thread is over a year old!
    Carter

    MCF Productions

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