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Thread: how do you start?

  1. #21
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    Quote Originally Posted by DM60 View Post
    @Grim , glad to see you back on the board.
    Hey DM, thanks !
    Quote Originally Posted by DM60 View Post
    I would say the first problem with song writing is you have a preconceived notion of what that is
    I agree with that. I certainly used to. A combination of the Beatles, Pink Floyd, the improvisations of Indian music and jazz {especially those early jazz~rock artists like the Fourth Way, Lifetime, Mahavishnu Orchestra and Weather report} blew my preconceptions of songwriting out of the stratosphere. When I first landed on the board back in 2009, I used to argue with Dinty Moore in particular about the different kinds of music and how I felt he narrowed down much of what he was saying to just a pop/rock aesthetic when there was a rich world of music out there to draw ideas and opinions and influences from. The more different kinds of songs one listens to, the wider one's songwriting pallette can be.

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    I am almost always strumming a guitar or pounding on a piano (unless I have "real" things I have to do). Various chord progressions (harmony) present themselves and if a progression appeals to me I try to work with it which then begins a "song" (verse, chorus, etc.). As this process develops I start to scat sing a melody line (which often then requires changes to the chord progesssion to better support the melody). As I continue to work on the melody, a word here or there or perhaps a lyrical phrase offers itself - those words/phrases then lead me to an idea for a story line, a charactor development, etc.

    Once I have a general, workable melody and progression - with a basic idea for the story line, etc. - I then start to really work on the song (re-writes, etc) until I have something I feel good about. Nornally by this time, I've determined if I have something worth putting more time into - and if the process just does not seem to have a life of it's own - I cut bait and move on to a different chord progression and start the process over.

    I follow a basic belief that the "muse" is always passing through. If she sees I am motivated (guitar in hand, etc.) she will grant me the start - and then expect me to go to work. However, if she passes by and I don't have guitar in hand or fingers on a keyboard, she will assume I am not interested in her guidance - and she will pass by without sprinkling some magic dust on me.

  3. #23
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    I keep a handheld recorder with me at all times, but the start seems to happen in the shower or while walking in the woods near my house. With the recorder I can capture lyric snippets and melodies and entire songs. Sure look like an idiot humming into the device, but who gives a flier?

  4. #24
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    Quote Originally Posted by YellowDwarf View Post
    I keep a handheld recorder with me at all times
    Until very recently, I always kept one to hand. I keep mine at home now. If I was ever "caught with my trousers down" {ie, no recorder} and I wasn't at home, I'd ring home and hum it onto the answering machine.
    Quote Originally Posted by YellowDwarf View Post
    Sure look like an idiot humming into the device, but who gives a flier?
    I did so much songwriting while I was delivering on the road. Probably most of the songs I have written and most of the parts that found their way into the songs came while I was doing deliveries. Once, I was driving through Kensington and this idea came to me and I just had to get it onto the dictaphone before I forgot it but as I started humming it, I went into a zone where the police were checking vehicles for tax and one officer saw me and pulled me over. Handheld items like phones are banned while driving in London and she really grilled me, took my details and I apologized and was ever so "crawly bum lick" but the officer said "Tough, you were not concentrating on the road, you could have caused an accident." I then explained that I hadn't been on the phone, rather, I'd had a song idea and just had to get it down and she said "Well, I'm sorry but I have to report you." I was mortified, it meant points on my licence, a fine and maybe even a court appearance or ban. Then suddenly she just said , "Get into your van and go. Don't do it again !"
    But I did. Many times.
    Another time, a song just came to me and I was reversing in a tight spot but out came the dictaphone and I was so busy getting the tune in my head onto the recorder, I reversed into one of those police prisoner wagons {I think it was Group 4 security} that they take the accused to court in. It was full of prisoners ! The officer was OK about it as I gave him my details. They never came back to my company about it, I'm glad to say. The funny thing was that on the actual recorder, you can hear me singing this melody and instrument part then you hear "BBAAAFFF!!!!" and me exclaiming. Whenever I listen to the song {"I'm in a shoe.mp3"} I think of its genesis.

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    Great story, grimtraveller!

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    I get tunes in my head and whistle them into my phone recorder app then try to make them. OR I start with a raw block of chaos and carve out the bits I like.

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    Quote Originally Posted by gecko zzed View Post
    For me it starts with a seed.

    The seed can be anything . . . a phrase that pops into my head, a fragment of a tune that I hear somewhere, a suggestion made by someone, an image, a dream, an emotion, a story told to me . . . anything could be a trigger.

    Sometimes the words will come first, sometimes the tune.
    All of that...but mostly playing a few chords on guitar and singing a melody over it. The words always start as gibberish stream of consciousness nonsense...sometimes they stay that way and probably half the time they become a thought out / worked on lyric. I often start recording a song before I have all the lyrics..as long as I have the melody and hooks, something usually comes.

    Mark

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