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Thread: Do you know when it's good?

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    Well, at least i'm writing again, but I'm thinking it's all trash. I figure get in a little deeper and the good songs will start again. Hell, the way I'm feeling these days, I think I'm already in the deep end. But hey, do you know when it gets good, can't you feel it. It was good for about 5 minutes tonite until I figured out that I needed something beside the two chords! ahh, the voice was there, the melody true. But I just need something else! Or do I? hey if the songs wants just to be two chords, then it will be. But aren't two chord songs boring? (the damn II-I thing- I always get stuck in there! but it's so modal and pretty! Can you ever forgive me? )

    -jhe
    -jhe

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    Don't force it where it doesn't want to go!!!

    If 2 chords is what you hear in your head, stay true to it. Remember your goal should be to convey a feeling or idea, and often times we sabotage this by trying to make something more intricate.

    I frequently wish I could write 2 or 3 chord, but it's hard to strip away those pretensions. I think this is what they called "higher innocence" in English class.
    Jeff

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    If the melody can stand on its own (I try to sing it a capella or just play it), then it's ok for me. it shouldn't sound as if the melody was based on the chord progressions, but vice versa. sorry if I repeat a previous thought of mine in another post, but I truly think that too many chords spoil a song and that less is often more (also regarding the melody).
    by the way: I hate rewriting, but sometimes there's no choice ;-)

    smirky

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    Thumbs up

    Yeah..The Kinks made a career out of two chords
    (I love the Kinks)
    And ZZ Top's drummer has made 15 albums with one drumbeat.
    U2 has made several albums with the same guitar riff.
    And Britney Spears has made it with the same two breasts.

    You can do it, James!!

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    Yep i did it! it found me at about 2:30 in the morning

    A little bridge got added- ohhh... hey, now it's three chords!

    Instead of just playing the music and singing along to get the lyrics, i just sat down and finished the lyrics, then just went with it, and man I gotta tell you it open up completely. I can't remember ever starting and finishing a song in one night, usually it has to evolve over time, but it's all there now.

    I'm gonna post an MP3 so you all can hear... give me a few days.

    -jhe

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    Exclamation

    You know, simplicity is a good idea sometimes. I have to disagree, somewhat, with Jeff's post.

    My best advice to anyone is to do something you wouldn't normally do. If you always "stay true," as Jeff put it, you will continuously produce the same thing. I know that I don't have a completely fresh idea everytime I pick up the guitar and anyone who does is God. Try starting with an arpeggio; a riff; straight fourths; mixed meter; go to an unexpected minor or diminished; etc...

    I'm not saying that you can't do great things with the "staying true" theory... Look at Tom Petty...

    Like I said, simplicity and two-chord progressions are good things sometimes. As long as intentional.

    To suggest an answer to your original question; I think you know it's good if it gets stuck in your head. I know when I don't like something. I make it(bored in the process) walk away in the middle of creating it, and forget it.

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    Lightbulb Not inspiration and art only

    Songwriting is a craft as well as an art. It is possible to hammer out a good song without having had any inspiration to start with. It is good to sometimes look at your song objectively and think, "It does need a little something there or a little of that there." Then you deliberately put something there.

    Lennon and McCartney would actually set times for writing songs. They would sit down and hammer out a complete song during a couple hour session. They weren't always writing from inspiration. It was very much a craft to them, like building a chair.

    Tucci

    Tucci

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    well said Tucci.

    But it is just as much art. Equal parts, so sometimes it is better to throw one of them out the window. You know i wouldn't call Dylan a "crafty" songwriter- but he sure is amazing... and then there are songwriters on the other end of the spectrum, Lennon and Mcarty come to mind. The art is the raw power, the message, the emotion of the song, the craft is to make all of that work and be accesable.

    TO me the craft comes second (sequentially at least), what do you guys think?

    -jhe
    -jhe

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    I don't know. Sometimes the craft part breeds the inspiration. You know what I mean? When it comes on slow as you work through something. You get attached to it and you're concentrating so hard that everything else in your life just kind of slips out of your consciousness. I remember a couple of times I was hammering things out on my 4 track, just moving around getting parts down, moving onto the next thing, and all this previously unwritten stuff would be right there. If I got a phone interruption I could barely come out of that state and talk to the person on the other end. Then I'd look back and laugh at what a Mad Scientist I must have looked like. I find it hard to separate the two. I guess what I'm saying is that when I'm inspired, I feel like a skilled craftsman.

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    I think your all tending to overstate the importance of craft.

    Craft should refer to the tools you use to write. Theory background, vocabulary, and your instrumental knowledge are all parts of crafting songs. Unfortunately, without any emotional inspiration or attachment, you'll be left with nothing more than an exercise.

    I've always relied on my imagination to come up with a fully developed vision of the song in my mind. The craft part is to interpret what I'm hearing in my mind, so I can play the parts, and communicate them to others.

    The Lennon/McCartney is a perfect model with Lennon providing most of the emotion, and McCartney most of the craft. A look at their solo work shows that Lennon's more emotional and less crafted songs resonated with people far more than McCartney's less inspired, but better crafted songs.

    Prophet- By saying "stay true", I'm refering to your original vision of the song. I'm not advocating simple songs for the sake of simplicity. If your hearing more or more exotic chords in your head, and simplifying it because of limited playing abilities, that's a cop-out. But I think adding things you don't hear in your head is just pretentious, and can obscure the inspiration. If "staying true" to your imagination continues to produce the same thing, then the problem is lack of imagination.

    Jeff

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