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Thread: Song structuring

  1. #1
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    Song structuring

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    Hey there..

    I'm curious if any of you's know of any good online resources or courses on the subject of song structuring.

    My current problem is that I manage to make a whole heap of crap but can never put it into order as I'm basically clueless on the fundamentals of structuring songs. (how to make a smooth change from verse to chorus etc.)

    I'd take a course in real life, but they always go far too slow for my likings.

    thanks

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    online?

    Hi,

    Not aware of anything online. My first thoughts are that you either have the knack or you don't.

    But, that's probably not totally true. I could take your head full of ideas and help you, but not sure how anybody could give you a set of rules that would work, save for the basics that have been working in the industry for decades.

    You start by learning how to analyze what you love in other people's music, and all that analysis over the years will become a part of your character.

    Next, depending upon what you are personally aiming for, follow "that".

    Examples:

    1) Pop music? Simple. Verse, verse, chorus, verse, chorus.

    2) Progressive AOR? Lots of cool ideas that keep the groove going and have great virtuoso work, too.

    3) Country? Most important is lyrics and then pretty basic sound structure.

    General rules, all of them. <wink>

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    I got a lot of value out of a book called "How To Write Songs on Guitar" by Rikkie Rooksby. He has a great writing style, and illustrates everything with examples from songs we all know. He spends a lot of time on exactly the area you asked about. Very easy to get hold of. The advantage of a book is that you can take it at your own pace and sit down with it with a guitar / keyboard whatever.

    Our own friend Aaron Cheney has also produced a book, which I bet is good, and also Tunesmith by Jimmy Webb gets a lot of good mentions here (although personally I can't bear to read it).
    Couple of our songs on Mixposure here

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    I guess the best bet is writing with someone else, I usually do with a friend but they've moved oversea's so it's more than awkward (1 in a billion person capable of deciphering my crap)

    I guess ultimately my problem is toning down the stuff i make and simplifying it to a point where it sounds like it has some structure.

    I am a firm believer in abandoning rules when it comes to music, the only problem is I tend to end up with a 'soundtrack' type effect that would probably suit a movie.. when i'm in actuality trying to write just a normal pop/rock song.

    Could always sell my soul, find a producer and market wholely off angsty teen imagery in the worst case scenario though

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    Any book by Davis.
    http://www.nocats.net - has link to youtube channel but only some background music on those vids, so far, def more to come!

  6. #6
    barthoque Guest
    Your talking about a problem we all have. I mostly have more idea's than I can possibly put into one song. I used to write song with lots of breaks and bridges, modulate a couple of times to end up somewhere in the desert not knowing where this all began. This resulted in very unstructured song with no beginning and no end.
    For me it seems to work best to just write a couple of verses and corus and put them in a basic logical order. I try to only use breaks and bridges when I really have to. That is when some part of the lyrics demand a different musical setting. Then I take just one or two chords that relate to the key of the song and repeat them a couple of times. I try not to write "songs within songs". If I get good new idea's I try to just make new songs of them.
    I guess thuis a matter of taste too. I personally prefer songs to be simple with a clear begin-middle-end structure in which lyrics are prominent. If you like more instrumental music you can take it anywhere you want.
    To me the basics allways seem to work.

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    Well for me I have to try to limit myself to something no longer then 4min songs, other wise it turns into some stuff like pink floyd 15 20 min songs. LOL
    And as far as formatting well everyone does it diffrent I don't believe there is a standard format for song writing. If it sounds good and can go along with the beat your using then it works.

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    I really think the Rikkie Rooksby book is laid out very well. I think I've read everything Sheila Davis has out (her books are like an industry standard) but I actually enjoyed the Rooksby book more.

    Deathkneel, you mention you believe in breaking the rules, yet your post suggests you don't yet understand the rules.

    While I agree there are times when breaking the rules can work well, I do think a "good writer" should indeed learn the rules and then be able to make an informed decision as to when to break them.

    You mention a "course in real life" takes longer than you like. However, good things sometimes take time. No one becomes a good musician without putting in time on some type of studies (formal or informal) - it stands to reason it also takes a committment of time to become a good writer.

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    Quote Originally Posted by mikeh

    You mention a "course in real life" takes longer than you like. However, good things sometimes take time. No one becomes a good musician without putting in time on some type of studies (formal or informal) - it stands to reason it also takes a committment of time to become a good writer.
    my only real gripe with those courses is the slow pace they go.. If I want to do somthing, I want to do it right away and I want to do a lot of it

    I'll try checkout those books you mentioned, thanks

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    I typically let the lyrics dictate the structure of the song, unless I'm specifically writing it for a pop thing. I guess that doesn't really work if you're doing instrumental stuff, or if your lyrics don't have a logical flow to them.

    When I do instrumental stuff, the thing that really helps me is to think of a storyline for the song. Think about a book or a movie you know pretty well, and think about how the action flows. Every story essentially builds to a point of tension and then the tension is resolved. Same thing with music.

    My philosophy about the "Rules" is not to abandon them so much as to play off of them. For example, if you know people will expect a chorus after the bridge, put another verse there, or a solo or something. To me, that's more interesting than a song that just wanders from section to section without any real definition. You take something people know and understand and alter it a bit to mess with their expectations.

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