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Thread: Melody/Lyrics to Music

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    Melody/Lyrics to Music

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    I was told to post this question here.
    I was listening to some songs today, just a bunch of random indie/alternative/rock and a lot of the time the lyric/lead melody starts on the 2nd beat of a bar, I was just wondering why??

    In rock usually isn't beat 1 and 3 the most important/most stressed?? why would you skip beat 1 ??

    Is there a basic template or anything of where the lyric/melody starts??

    I hear alot of songs that seem like they start on the second beat and tie into the third beat.
    and then usually take the fourth beat and tie into the 1st beat of the next measure. Is that a popular way of doing it?? Is there some common ways to do it??

    I am just starting out and trying to figure everything out. I like to know the rules and common ways so I can tweak them, break them, and make them my own.
    Thanks again I apprecaite it.

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    Words have stressed and unstressed syllables. For example, in 'window' the natural stress is on 'win': window. With 'begin', the natural stress is on 'gin': begin.

    The combination of stressed an unstressed syllables provides the internal rhythm for a poem or lyrics.

    Consider:

    "Mary had a little lamb"

    The stressed bits are:

    Mary had a little lamb

    The stressed bits are those that would sit on the beat of a song. Thus Ma would fall on beat 1.

    Now consider:

    Amazing Grace how sweet the sound

    Here the stressed bits are:

    Amazing Grace how sweet the sound

    Notice that the start of the line is the unstressed syllable 'a' of 'amazing'. For the stressed syllable 'ma' to fall on the beat, the 'a' has to come before the beat.

    The lyrics have to match the rhythm of a song, but line lengths are not necessarily the same. This means that some lines will start before the first beat of the bar, on the first beat, or after the first beat. This does not reduce the impact of beat 1 or beat 3, because the syllables still reinforce those beats, even if they are not present on those beats.

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    To prove it to yourself....

    ....try singing Mary Had a Little Lamb stressing the unstressed syllables like this:

    Ma-ry had a lit tle lamb.

    sort of like putting your ac cent on the wrong syl lab le.

    When I write a song I typically, but not always, will write the lyrics as quickly as possible to get the story down. Then I rewrite them and get rid of any superfluous words. Then I rewrite trying to avoid cliche's (Unless that's what I am going for.) Finally I read the lyrics out loud in a sing-song fashion and scratch in accent marks on the stressed syllables. The melody then comes easily and doesn't seem forced. It is a great mechanism used by poets and songwriters alike. Play with it and enjoy the outcome. Of course, if nothing else works then just keep writing, playing, and singing. It's still a lot of fun and some real gems are written that way also. Sooner or later you will find the method that works best for you. It happens for each of us at different rates. Dave aka up-fiddler

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    Quote Originally Posted by Purpleb View Post

    I hear alot of songs that seem like they start on the second beat and tie into the third beat.
    Hi,

    Are you sure that you're picking where the bars actually start? That's probably the first thing to get straight.

    Songs don't always start at beat 1 of bar 1. Itís not that rare to start a song part the way through a bar. So the casual listener might not automatically even know where the underlying structure begins. If you look at the sheet music you might see just a couple of introductory notes in what looks like a very short bar with less than the usual amount of music in it. If you want to learn more about that try searching for ďpick up measureĒ or ďanacrusisĒ. So if you started counting from the first note you heard you could end up a little confused. Itís also traditional (although not compulsory) to Ďbalance the booksí on the last bar (measure) if you start with a pick up. So if the first bar only had the equivalent of one quarter note then the final bar may just have 3 instead of the expected 4 (just to give one possibility).


    As GZ says, the most important thing is to get the emphasis happening in the appropriate parts of the lyrics. So itís usually reasonably straightforward to pick what the overall pattern of accents is. However you then have to decide how thatís being used, so the drums are usually a pretty good guide.

    Itís common in rock to emphasize beats 2 and 4. Search for terms such as Ďback-beatí or Ďback beatí and syncopation to learn more about how basic stresses can be used to get various effects.

    If itís straight up rock-n-roll, it's often said that the most common pattern is to emphasize the first beat of the bar with a good solid thump on the kick drum, and the third with a slightly less emphatic kick and then highlight beats 2 and 4 with the snare drum, which can cut through most other sound so is a very influential part of the rock drum sound. This is not a hard and fast rule, and it can be decorated up and extended in many different ways. But in a lot of rock you can still hear that basic Thump, smack, thump, smack going on even though it might be more like Thump, smack,thump-thump, smack, or one of many variations.

    Itís worth spending a bit of time reading up on drumming (or even better, learning to play or write drum tracks). Thereís plenty of good books on drumming, whether you buy or hit the library, and many sites with basic lessons too. Rhythm can be dead simple or amazingly complex, but it's well worth trying to get a reasonable grasp of it if you want to write songs.


    Another good way to learn is to buy a songbook (maybe one of the 100 easy popular song type books which gives the music notation as well as just chords or TAB). Even if you canít read music youíll be able to follow the lyrics and the bar structure and see just where the beats are being emphasized, and how the pulse of the lyrics follows the beat structure of the music. This is a vital skill for a songwriter to have. Eventually your ear will start to pick it all up by experience. Iím not really all that far down the track yet, but a couple of drums lessons and a bit of careful reading and listening has helped enormously.


    Good luck.


    Cheers,

    Chris

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    Quote Originally Posted by Purpleb View Post
    I was told to post this question here.
    I was listening to some songs today, just a bunch of random indie/alternative/rock and a lot of the time the lyric/lead melody starts on the 2nd beat of a bar, I was just wondering why??

    In rock usually isn't beat 1 and 3 the most important/most stressed?? why would you skip beat 1 ??

    And why wouldn't you? If it works, it works. End of.

    I mean, why did Roger Daltry sing 'My Generation' with a stutter? He didn't have a speech impediment. There was no rule saying that all songs should be sang with a stutter. But who cares? It just worked. Brilliantly.

    The first beat of the bar - or 'the One' as they say in funk circles - is pretty important, yes. Well, you need a first before you can have a second anyway. But there are plenty of other interesting things that could be happening on the One. That bass note, that kick drum, that whatever, could be doing something interesting on the One, perhaps something that needs space, a short break in the vocal, in order for you, the listener, to fully appreciate it (whether knowingly or not).
    Roland Fantom-G6; Alesis Fusion 6HD, ControlPad; Waldorf Blofeld; Yamaha MG124c; Lexicon MX200; Samson Resolv 50a; Edirol FA-66; Intel Core2 Duo E6600 @ 2.4GHz, 4GB RAM; Windows XP; Cubase 5; Kontakt 3; Sound Forge 9

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    Quote Originally Posted by comradec View Post
    And why wouldn't you? If it works, it works. End of.
    I agree with Comrade Cooke's assessment of the ultimate method of deciding what you can get away with.

    The whole issue of 'rules' in music is an intriguing one though. As Purpleb said in his post "I like to know the rules and common ways so I can tweak them, break them, and make them my own."

    You can't break rules unless there are some there to break in the first place, and although music really doesn't have any hard and fast 'Rules' as such it certainly does have plenty of structures, patterns, traditions and established forms to meddle around with. You can even set your own 'rules' within a song and then achieve effects by breaking them or twisting them around - indeed, in small ways I think that's pretty much what you should be doing.

    Sometimes a composer can buck an overall trend in whatever music they're writing, but it's also a part of everybody's general toolkit to set up their own apparent 'rules' in a song and then engage the listener by the ways that they depart from them. All the way through music - whether it's the rhythm, the melody, the lyrics, or whatever - we use the trick of setting up an expectation and then giving it a twist, a change of direction, building and releasing tensions, holding off on delivering the expected, etc.

    So with melody it's common to do things like using repetition, but to also add, build or change it a little with some of the repeats. And once you've established a rhythm pattern or tempo you can achieve effects and mark different stages in the song by changing those too, either subtly or dramatically, and so on. Too much predictability and it can become dull, but too much randomness or direction changing and it can get hard to listen to.

    Of course, some music uses the device of NOT changing long past the time when some of us wish it had.... So there probably not much for it but to study how others use rhythms (and all the other elements of music too) and then see how we can make it work for us. That's one of the advantages of learning to read a score - you can then not just hear what's going on but you can SEE it clearly too...

    Cheers,

    Chris

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    Quote Originally Posted by Hakea View Post
    I agree with Comrade Cooke's assessment of the ultimate method of deciding what you can get away with.

    Who's this 'Comrade Cooke'?
    Roland Fantom-G6; Alesis Fusion 6HD, ControlPad; Waldorf Blofeld; Yamaha MG124c; Lexicon MX200; Samson Resolv 50a; Edirol FA-66; Intel Core2 Duo E6600 @ 2.4GHz, 4GB RAM; Windows XP; Cubase 5; Kontakt 3; Sound Forge 9

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    Quote Originally Posted by comradec View Post
    Who's this 'Comrade Cooke'?
    Geez, you're a bit young to be forgetting who you are aren't you? I thought that was just my generation.

    If in doubt, you could always check your SOS profile...

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