Song Structuring..

MDP

New member
Hi this is my first post and I'm still trying to find my way around.

Song structure is what I struggle most with. I usually play live and now that I decided to record my first EP I'm having major problems with arrangement and song structure. I'm solo and my music is instrumental acoustic guitar with a lot of percussive elements. So when I perform live people can see what I'm doing with my guitar, but when I try to record the songs as they are, it feels like something is missing. So then I keep adding Instruments and parts that add to the song. The song then progressively changes to the point where I realize that it sounds completely different to the live version. Then I usually stop working on it and end up getting nothing done. Very frustrating.

So my question is how people limit themselves in the studio to find that balance between studio version and live version. Where is the line?
 

DM60

Well-known member
After my first million seller, I did (just kidding, I have no real clue) But here is how I do it. This is as much style, but I usually start with fragments and pieces, then think about how I have a beginning, middle and end. Then, once I have an idea, then I go back and look at the middle. What centers the song, how do I want to go away, come back (for me, it always has to come back or else it is just random jamming). Once I have that, then I focus on what is the focus.

I always think music has some point. Either I want to show how well I can play lead, I want to center around a melody or I have some stuff to say. But either way, there is something in your head you want others to know. Then determine how you want to tell them, but at some point, you've made your point and there is nothing more to say.

Probably didn't help, but I tried.
 

mjbphotos

What?!?
Hi this is my first post and I'm still trying to find my way around.

Song structure is what I struggle most with. I usually play live and now that I decided to record my first EP I'm having major problems with arrangement and song structure. I'm solo and my music is instrumental acoustic guitar with a lot of percussive elements. So when I perform live people can see what I'm doing with my guitar, but when I try to record the songs as they are, it feels like something is missing. So then I keep adding Instruments and parts that add to the song. The song then progressively changes to the point where I realize that it sounds completely different to the live version. Then I usually stop working on it and end up getting nothing done. Very frustrating.

So my question is how people limit themselves in the studio to find that balance between studio version and live version. Where is the line?


I record my songs the way I want to them to sound - however many instruments/vocal tracks/etc needed. If I want to do the song live solo and acoustic, I figure out how to do it - differently, if it's anything other than straight acoustic-and-voice style - and if I cna't do what I consider an acceptable version of it that way, I don't do it.
 

Elison

New member
A lot of my songs I write are not alike. For instance one is a rough sounding fast-paced grunge and the rhyme scheme is A,A,B,B. but the structure is V,P.C.,V,P.C.,Ch,solo,Ch,outro. I have another that is a scaw sounding one that is structured so that one riff is the intro, and pre-pre chorus. So it goes intro,verse, (intro riff), pre chorus, chorus, intro riff, pre chorus, chorus, break, outro.

Granted, I am new to serious song writing I've gotten enough positive feedback and personal belief that my music is unique to me and others and different but respectable I suppose
 

RogerL.

New member
I have written songs using many different approaches, I will say that the best songs in the end, have always seem to almost written themselves. That doesn't mean I didn't have to tweak them but the meat was there and then I decided to add a chorus or solo. I have heard that the Beatles in the early days had a formula which seemed to use a "middle 8", I think it worked well for them.
 

Jessica_X

New member
I start with the lyrics first, and usually assume it will be v/c/v/c/br/c.
But then I try to be flexible depending on where the song is going.
So sometimes I end up starting with the chorus. A couple of my songs ended up being only verses, with some melodic variations among them.
I think a lot of it's about having the right balance between repetition and variation.
 

Simon Beck

New member
I'm not a very prolific songwriter, but for me the music either comes first or comes along with the lyrical hook. I can't write serious songs, so mine are either droll/amusing or satirical. Here are two examples.

About 10 years ago when my kids were about 1 and 4, I came up with a silly calypso-ish chorus: "Don't step on the ba-a-by! Don't step on the baby! Ay-ay-ay-ay, ay-ay-ay-ay! Don't step on the baby!" The tune and the lyrics appeared together, and for a while I was convinced that I had heard it somewhere. Having reassured myself that it was indeed my own work, I wrote three verses to go with the chorus, and later a fourth telling the story of why the song was written. I finally recorded it last month, after 10 years of humming it to myself and occasionally playing it for fun. The guitar is a 1958 Framus archtop acoustic, the bass is a Stagg electric double bass, and the trumpet and trombone are from an old Casio WK-3000. By the way, Thomas, my elder son mentioned in the song is now 14 and a very talented folk and blues guitarist.



"Genie" was written as a complete instrumental arrangement before I even thought of lyrics. I have a Nord Electro keyboard, and I absolutely love playing its Wurlitzer electric piano sound. I was doing a sort of Billy Preston/Stevie Wonder/Dr John early-70s funk thing, and the chord progression gradually took shape. There's specifically a lot of "Boogie On Reggae Woman" and "Will It Go Round In Circles" influence in there. I used my electric double bass instead of bass guitar to give a jazzier sound and overdubbed an organ intro and solo from the Nord, plus a simple brass part from the Casio WK-3000. Then I sat down and thought about the lyrics. I'm a child of the 1960s, and although I'm fine with modern technology, I also thought it would make a good topic for satire. I came up with the idea of not being able to put the techno-genie back in his bottle and chose Twitter, computer game addiction and Auto-Tune as suitable targets for my barbs.

 

guitarpat

New member
I usually don't have too much trouble with the verses and chorus. The bridge seems to be where I usually get stuck. Or maybe just run out of words, I'm more of a music person than a word person
 

DM60

Well-known member
I usually don't have too much trouble with the verses and chorus. The bridge seems to be where I usually get stuck. Or maybe just run out of words, I'm more of a music person than a word person

I don't think a bridge has to have words. I many times use it for just music, give the listener's mind a little time to rest. If you have a good interlude in the song, that is a good thing. Words are optional as long as it is adding to the song.
 

dragonworks

Banned
nine out of ten times I write the basic chord progression first, lyrics second. I find the lyrics much more difficult to write. Once both are written I then flesh out the tune to fit "the mood." The structure doesn't matter as long as the tension is built and released in the proper places and each section has it's own "feel."
 

BigEZ

The Devil Has Blue Eyes
I believe the most popular structure would be the following...

Intro
Verse
Pre-Chorus (optional)
Chorus
Verse
Pre-Chorus (optional)
Chorus
Bridge/Solo
Pre-Chorus (optional)
Chorus (possibly x2)
Outro, Fade Out or End

The majority of the biggest hits now and from the past follow this structure. The main point I'm making (apart from my added notes) is that it follows VERSE/CHORUS/VERSE/CHORUS/BRIDGE/CHORUS. However, that's not to say there haven't been multiple hits with a different structure. Here are some other examples, some start with a chorus or half the hook, some have no bridge, some are Verse/Verse/Chorus/Chorus (sometimes with a Bridge thrown in between the choruses), etc. Check out "Over When Its Over" by Eric Church...that is a very different structure but boy does it work! One of my favorite songs over the past 5 years.

I think if you start with the simple structure I first mentioned, it will help you write countless songs that flow properly throughout and give the listener something to follow that makes sense to their ears and mind.
 

morningafterrec

New member
I try not to follow any set structure. Ive found out that early on when I would try to write for a song structure I was too focused on following that structure than the actual riffs, chord progressions, etc. That would dramatically dampen my creativity. Now I just write and build the song structure with material that works together.
 

Btyre2013

New member
I recently wrote a tune in 12/8 and in parts it has 18/8 I wrote the structure around the melody, without thinking about the patterns behind it too much.
 

kyooryuu

New member
Love seeing everyone's different approaches.

I tend to do
Intro, Verse, Chorus, Verse, Chorus, Outro

though it varies depending on the song.
 

Clinton PPP

New member
Hi True-eurt,

Great idea. The arrangement of the song is so important!!! I recommend studying the masters of your particular field. For example for Reggae musicians Bob Marley was a great composer and had a strong sense of song structure and form. I also love to look at Duke Ellington as his arrangements and compositions are thought of as some of the best. It's simple study to identify a verse, chorus or bridge and certainly it increases your musical awareness just to study the simple factors of the music!
 
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