order of creation...

Eddie N

10 Inch Member
im just curious... when you write/create songs , in what order do you create ? do you write the lyrics and then the rest of the song around it ? and if so...whats after lyrics ? guitar riffs ? drums ? im really clueless.... i guess its really a matter of preference , but does anyone have any tips ?


For me, the easy way is if I get a bit of the lyrics first - a line, a phrase, or just an idea. Then I've got an idea what the song's about, and the music tends to fall into place more easily. The tougher way, but what happens more often, is that a bit of music comes up on its own - usually a melody while I'm at work or cooking or something, or perhaps a chord progression or a riff while I'm playing. The tough part is then tuning into what the song's about, what the words are - it's like I have to put a polite request to my mind to come up with the theme or the lyrics. And if the whole process starts to get mechanical or manipulative ("Let's see... what rhymes with 'balloon'? Maroon, coccoon, baboon..."), then it's time to let it go for the time being, and pick it up later. And when the song's done, then the other instruments get the attention - but that's cuz I work alone during the songwriting. Even Lennon and Macartney used to work alone and bring what they'd done to the other one, who would then work with it. But everyone's different - there was an article in Guitar Player (Sept/98) about songwriting, and that's one of the things that came out of it - everybody has their own approach. And I was most impressed by the people who seemed to have no approach at all - they just sort of got an idea from here or there, in this form or that, and then stuck with it until it either turned into a good song or something that could be archived for later use.
I agree that everyone has their own approach. Each song can be written in a different way. For me, I kinda just get an idea, and think about it for a while. I have a general theme in mind, and express it musically and lyrically. Once I've got everything worked out, I put it on tape, and then make some minor changes if necessary, but pretty much everything is the same on the final tape as it was at 4 am lying in bed.
Over the past 3 or 4 months I've gotten over my fears and have started to write seriously for the first time ever. Man it feels good! I think that you just have to let the songs come to you from wherever. For me it's never lyrics, though...that's the trouble. In fact that's what's really holding me back most! I usually think up some melody while I'm on a smoke break at work...hopefully I'll keep it in my head until I can pick it out on the guitar later. Or sometimes I'm just dinking around on the ol' accoustic and something strikes me as being cool. Then I start recording...just to get SOMETHING down and see how things are going to work out. Thank god for the PC and this BBS. Eventually things come clear, so far anyway...I've only got about 3 tunes that I think are at the near finished level...coming soon to an mp3.com near you.

Lyrics...oh crap. Man they suck (for me). It could be a good thing that I can't write lyrics though...it means that the music dictates the words instead of the words dictating the music..which is how I like to think of things (the opposite of many musicians that I know). Sometimes I'll sing an entire vocal piece over an unfinished song just to get an idea of how the words *should* sound...comes out like "ohsa siwh siwar swirsa"....a nirvana tune perhaps. And then the cliche's start to fly..."I'm in so much pain/In the rain/with my sinking soul/I sit in shame" Man it all starts sounding cheasy like that when my stupid head gets involved :)

The worst...and I mean the WORST thing in the world to happen, though, is when you get someone else's tune stuck in your head. Whether it's the Barney theme or a Zepplin tune...it totally sucks. Sometimes I'll be heading in what I think is a great direction...but it'll sound *just a little bit* like some other tune stuck in the back of my head somewhere. That's it then...end of story...there's no way in hell it's going to come out right. :)

And don't listen to those amazing stories that the musicians you look up to have about where their songs come from. It'll only make your own stories seem weak, which is rarely if ever true.

Holy crap these long posts of mine are getting out of control.

Slackmaster 2000
Yep, everyone is telling it straight--the song dictates how you write it. I have plenty of songs that I wrote lyrics for and then the music. And plenty of them are cool, but they have a lot of common musical themes. Some of my best songs, though, come from playing with amp and effects settings and just playing chords when suddenly a structure occurs. Words just come about because of the mood set by the song. At times, it may even end up being just an instrumental. I guess I look at songs as a gift (for me they are from God). And everybody opens gifts differently at different times. Sometimes with wreckless abandon and sometimes very carefully.

As for arrangements--for me they change given the time of day. Do yourself a favor. By a CD of alternative tracks from a band you really like. For me its the Beatles and their anthology albums. I just die everytime I here one of my favorite Beatles tunes as first conceived in contrast to what they released. Some songs just take on a life of their own in the studio. The genius of Lennon/McCartney (as well as the other lads) is what they discover in a song after it is written. I bet a lot of the bands you really like would have similar stories.

Peace, Jim
tmcbrinn: you make it sound so easy ("I have a general theme in mind, and express it musically and lyrically"). :)

SM2K: help is on the way. As soon as I find a way to get the picture on my new website in a format that takes less than 3 minutes to download LOL, you will see the answer to all your songwriting dreams. Unless you, like tmcbrinn, are awake at 4 am writing songs, and don't dream.

What's the alternative to a jpeg file?
For web use, the alternative to a jpeg is a larger file :) To get your jpeg under control: 1) Literally shrink (resize, resample) the image. 2) Lower the color depth...16 bit is usually fine but 256 colors will work with some images. 3) Lower the image quality when you create the jpeg (thereby decreasing the file size).

Slackmaster 2000