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Thread: Sound Over Sense

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    Lightbulb Sound Over Sense

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    I'm not sure if anyone here is familar with Brian Eno, but he has supported a technique in lyric writing he has called 'Sound Over Sense' As in emphasizing the sound of the words together, and point blank effect, over trying to portray a bigger theme, or subject.

    Also coming into play with this, and this is my interprative theory so it may be shotty, is perhaps sub-conscious meaning when you use a technique like stream of consciousness (I guess that's what it is; eg writing without planned attack and without rethinking anything)



    What are you guys thoughts on this? Anyone use this? Does anyone know a lot about it, and would like to share it with us?



    I was in an avant garde band, mostly serving as vocalist/lyricist and some of the music. I used this technique frequently. But i usually had a theme in mind, but only a very vague emotive sort of one. And I would simply freewrite with a melody, trying to make musical words within the feeling I had for the song. It just occurs to me, that it was basically just improv. But I can look back at the words and find a thematic meaning. Pehaps it's just pretension. I don't know. I wrote words that sounded best as a priority.

    Back to Eno. He was in a progressive pop sort of band, that spawned 70's glam, Roxy Music. He released a few solo pop records (very good ones) then became the 'father of ambient' music. But he has won several Grammys for production with acts like U2, Bowie, Talking Heads. Another cool inovation he prodcued was his "Oblique Strategies" cards, here is a link http://www.rtqe.net/ObliqueStrategies/ ... i wont go into that now...

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    jacobdetoth Your post is interesting. It really struck a "cord" with me. Any time I begin writing a song the music & melody is always the most important thing to me.

    I say anything that comes to mind just to keep the melody "out there" until I can remember it. It's total gibberish in the beginning.

    Surprisingly, I consider myself 1st and foremost a lyricist. The lyrics are the easiest part of the song for me to master. I always go back and change the words and "hopefully"add meaning.

    Remember AMERICA, the 70s group. I thought very few of their songs made sense. I loved their music though.
    Peace,

    cjmusicman

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    Sounds interesting..I ll check it out. Any best examples to listen to?

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    I saw a interveiw with David Bowie...Where he said what he would do is take a bunch of phrases and words cut them up and jumble them ..put them in a pile and just draw them out.He would fashion a song from those disjointed words..seems interesting!This was a old interveiw on PBS..

    Don
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    Don

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    Yeah, the technique Bowie was using is similar to junky writer William Burroughs cut-ups, where he would piece together things... sometimes just two halves of a newspaper.

    I meant to mention it, but Brian Eno has also did some reviews at Garageband.com, their 'producer review' thing. On one of the reviews he says something like, "There needs to be more words in the verse, so there aren't pauses... Just put anything in there, it really doesn't matter I always think"

    I wonder if U2 had this sort of thinking for their newest album, co-produced by Eno...though he didn't show for the Grammys, he's that cool I guess.

    A great Eno song is "Baby's On Fire", he's got a lot of good 'avant garde pop' tunes, on his 1st three albums (Here Come The Warm Jets, Taking Tiger Mountain, and Another Green World) the rest of his catalog are ambient...ofcourse he was skipping lyrics altogether there.

    Another reason I like this method is it forces me not to be excessively blunt, tounge & cheek, or simply dumb. Often if I write about something in particular my words are forced and contorted, and their instant meaning overtakes the song..and meaning.

    I like to think I let the song contruct itself, going in the direction of the emotion, rather than the meaning; letting it define itself.

    One of my motos is Music per se Music. Let the chips fall where they may. I believe it has to sound good first.

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    In addition...

    Here are lyrics to "Babys On Fire", which Eno openly admits, has no real meaning... but it sounds so good:

    Baby's on fire
    Better throw her in the water
    Look at her laughing
    Like a heifer to the slaughter

    Baby's on fire
    And all the laughing boys are bitching
    Waiting for photos
    Oh the plot is so bewitching

    Rescuers row row
    Do your best to change the subject
    Blow the wind blow blow
    Lend some assistance to the object

    Photographers snip snap
    Take your time she's only burning
    This kind of experience
    Is necessary for her learning

    If you'll be my flotsam
    I could be half the man I used to
    They said you were hot stuff
    And that's what Baby's been reduced to...

    Juanita and Juan
    Very clever with maraccas
    Making their fortunes
    Selling second-hand tobaccoes

    Juan dances at Chico's
    And when the clients are evicted
    He empties the ashtrays
    And pockets all that he's collected

    But Baby's on fire!
    And all the instruments agree that
    Her temperature's rising
    But any idiot would know that.

    There's a huge Robert Fripp solo in there, Fripp an unknown guitar-god, he's unbelievable.

    Here's a brief comment Eno made in an interview (the only one I can find off hand) where he mentions one of his techniques:
    "I find the dreams are always much more brilliant in their construction than anything I consciously think of. On that particular one, I just woke up with all these words in my head and I wrote them straight down in the dark. When writing from dreams, you don't feel any responsibility for what you do, which is important to me. Another way I write lyrics is to get the backing track down and then play it with a cassette near by and, as it's playing, I start singing anything to it - like 'ba-do-de-be-de-n- do-day'. And I do that a lot until I finally end up with a version in scat singing. Then I listen to that again and again until eventually I don't hear it as nonsense anymore and I start hearing words. Then I write them out and they become the words to the song. I find it absolutely impossible to sit down without music and write lyrics because basically I haven't got anything to say in a direct way like that. The actual musical context of a song is always so much more expressive than the words are. Lyrics in songs, in nearly 8O% of cases, actually make the song less interesting. The lyrics I like best are the ones which are either completely bland like the early rock lyrics, where there's obviously no attempt to do anything but to sing a melody - or, on the other hand, I admire the ones of the great librettists like Noel Coward. And also Bryan [Ferry]. . ."


    I know many are like "Brian Eno"? Who the f' is he? What does he know? Well for you, take it this way: he's just coming to terms with this technique, he didn't envent it. I'd say a lot of people use it, but perhaps think it's some sort of devine intervention or what not. Eno is noting it realistically. I think....

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    Thumbs up

    Babys on Fire ..Great song I think Fripp was on guitar on that one!And was Hall {from Hall and Oats} on that too..Man that brings back some memorys!Burrows...well that means I gotta cut up Naked Lunch for phases..LOL

    Don
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    Don

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    I use a similar approach to writing lyrics in that I place emphasis on the sounds of the words over the meaning. I don't take it to the Eno extreme because by the time I finish the music I usually have a theme to work with, so whatever I put on paper will eventually fit into the theme's structure. But what is originally written is never the final lyric, because I twist and turn the words to avoid redundancy and phrasing that would otherwise come across as awkward. The whole process can sometimes be more difficult than writing the music itself, but any less consideration would just make it bad poetry put to good music.

    Cy
    Cy

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    Cyrokk, I agree with the revision aspect completely.

    My technique, and probably many others, is often defined thru allusion to a theme. I usually have a vague, sometimes abstract, subject matter... then a loosely allude to it. Actually easier than pulling random words "out of your ass" so to speak.

    I think completely perverse lyrics, almost nonsense, cannot thrive as a pop song for example. Pop culture is turned away from what they don't understand, and that is understandable. They want a hint as to what the song is about, but probably don't give it a second thought, and surely don't examine each line.

    As for examination, I wrote a song for a prior project, that I wrote almost soley driving, I'd just sing out loud, and see what came next-or test drive lyrics I had thought of. I used this method almost exclusively. When I went back, perhaps months later, thru the lyrics, with referencing my first inclination for subject matter, I could derive meaning from each line. But it was all subjective interpretation I suppose, but I wrote it, so I'm not sure what to call it.

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    Another technique that I have recently rediscovered involves fashioning the lyrics in such a way that it grabs the listener's interest to figure out the meaning of the words by himself.

    There was a famous classic author (I don't know his name) who said that a scantily clad woman is more enticing than one who is completely naked because the outfit stimulates the imagination. Using similar imagery in writing lyrics can be extremely powerful and can require repeated listenings, which is never a bad thing for a songwriter.

    Another benefit of writing in that style is that you do not necessarily need to complete the concept with the last verse, giving more flexability for rearranging word phrases.

    Of course, an entire album or catalogue of this can drive a listener nuts, so it's always a good idea to give them a direct hit here or there to keep them on track.

    Cy
    Cy

    [SIZE=1][URL=http://www.soundclick.com/bands/default.cfm?bandID=716684]Cy's Tracks[/URL][/SIZE]
    [SIZE=1][I]
    All music posted by Cyrokk is Copyright 2006, 2007[/I][/SIZE]

    [SIZE=1][URL=http://www.myspace.com/hellsacre]Hell's Acre[/URL]: Music to headbang and break stuff[/SIZE]



    [SIZE=1][I]"I don't like stuff that sucks"-Butthead

    "You're a fart pocket in a turd, fuck off!!!"-Fancy[/I][/SIZE]

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