Instrumental songwriting help - Jemsite
Guitar Lessons & Music Theory Post any type of guitar or music lessons, theory and other learning methods.

 
LinkBack Thread Tools Display Modes
post #1 of 15 (permalink) Old 02-19-2013, 10:38 AM Thread Starter
 
Join Date: Nov 2007
Location: Indianapolis
Posts: 2,610
Instrumental songwriting help

For those that write their instrumental stuff, I am hoping you can give me some insight to your writing process.

I have a horrible time transitioning from the "verse" to the "chorus" if you will. If I have done it successfully in the past, it has been an accident. My thinking to an instrumental song though is that it is set up much like a vocal song intro,verse, bridge,chorus,etc... Maybe I am thinking wrong.

I guess my trouble would be the bridge, getting from the melody into the chorus.

Any thoughts? I have so many cool parts of songs that never get finished as whole songs because of this.
satchmo72 is offline  
Sponsored Links
Advertisement
 
post #2 of 15 (permalink) Old 02-19-2013, 10:51 AM
 
Join Date: Jul 2006
Location: San Antonio, Texas
Posts: 978
Reviews: 4
Talking Re: Instrumental songwriting help

Just remember one thing dude, the transition can be whatever you want it to be. It doesn't have to be traditional or how everyone else does it.
dccomputersa is offline  
post #3 of 15 (permalink) Old 02-19-2013, 12:47 PM Thread Starter
 
Join Date: Nov 2007
Location: Indianapolis
Posts: 2,610
Re: Instrumental songwriting help

Thanks man, I'm too analytical sometimes I guess.
satchmo72 is offline  
post #4 of 15 (permalink) Old 02-19-2013, 01:06 PM
 
Join Date: Feb 2011
Location: Tampa, FL
Posts: 1,225
Reviews: 2
Re: Instrumental songwriting help

You mentioned something about going from verse to chorus. Sometimes a key change works nicely. That's something nice about instrumental music in that one isn't restrained by a singer's ability. Be careful though, not all key changes sound great. Try going from major to minor. For example, C major to C minor. One could also think of it as C major to Eb major.
therightjem is offline  
post #5 of 15 (permalink) Old 02-19-2013, 01:57 PM Thread Starter
 
Join Date: Nov 2007
Location: Indianapolis
Posts: 2,610
Re: Instrumental songwriting help

Quote:
Originally Posted by therightjem View Post
You mentioned something about going from verse to chorus. Sometimes a key change works nicely. That's something nice about instrumental music in that one isn't restrained by a singer's ability. Be careful though, not all key changes sound great. Try going from major to minor. For example, C major to C minor. One could also think of it as C major to Eb major.
Good thought, I dont think I have ever sat down and thought about the song harmonically beyond knowing what key I started writing the melody in and what rhythm I want behind the melody. I need to branch out, think about this differently. I have always stayed in the same key.
satchmo72 is offline  
post #6 of 15 (permalink) Old 02-25-2013, 06:28 PM
 
Join Date: Jan 2006
Location: dallas
Posts: 754
Re: Instrumental songwriting help

first you can check out a couple of my instrumentals on this page...see if this is the type of song development you are trying to achieve:

www.soundcloud.com/rastachild (hat trick and fact of the matter)

if this is the type of instrumental stuff you are trying to write, i can at least give you an idea of how i do it.

to me, writing instrumental tunes is almost identical to writing songs for vocals. i honestly don't think of making the structure any differently. but i like progressive rock/metal in general, so a vocal tune can have a lot of changes and that's alright with me. as far as how to come up with transitions...my method is just to jam the tune over and over and then when i get to that part that i'm trying to write, i'll stop and see where i 'hear' the section going. it has helped me immensely to mentally visualize and run sections through my head.

one thing you should never do is force sections together or settle on something you aren't 100% in love with. it's ok to have half finished songs and put them away if they aren't coming together. no need to beat your head against the wall...might be a good time to put it on the backburner and work on a partial tune that you haven't jammed on in awhile.

hope that helps!
rastachild is offline  
post #7 of 15 (permalink) Old 02-26-2013, 07:37 AM
 
Join Date: May 2003
Location: Hilversum, The Netherlands
Posts: 3,273
Re: Instrumental songwriting help

An alternative can also be to think of a drum fill/change in tempo type of thing, or other "break" in the music.

I have similar problems or worse, as I can barely call myself a musician. I have to consciously look at the chords/notes I have used up until that point and consciously say "ok, transition time ... what next?"
Ibateur is offline  
post #8 of 15 (permalink) Old 02-27-2013, 12:04 AM
 
Join Date: Mar 2012
Location: Stockton, CA
Posts: 977
Reviews: 15
Re: Instrumental songwriting help

Quote:
Originally Posted by therightjem View Post
You mentioned something about going from verse to chorus. Sometimes a key change works nicely. That's something nice about instrumental music in that one isn't restrained by a singer's ability. Be careful though, not all key changes sound great. Try going from major to minor. For example, C major to C minor. One could also think of it as C major to Eb major.
"Always With Me, Always With You" is a great example of this.
silverctr is offline  
post #9 of 15 (permalink) Old 02-27-2013, 04:26 AM
 
Join Date: Apr 2011
Location: France - Strasbourg
Posts: 511
Reviews: 6
Re: Instrumental songwriting help

On my side I do not have a specific approach for the song's structure.

It just comes as I play/feel it at the moment I found the idea. It can be just another chord progression in the same scale, a mode change by staying with the same root note, or a total different feeling or sometimes a direct switch from verse to chorus or vice versa.

I do not approach the song as a vocal song as rastachild does, but this is a personal feeling. Every person has its own approach (which is great), which is part of every personality.

I went through a bunch of questionings in the past as you are into now, but try not to focus too much on these questions, I can tell by experience that asking yourself too much questions might create a loss of focus about the inspiration and about where you want to go.

As an example I’m in the process of finishing (have to record the final solo and will be done) a composition I started in last October, but I’m still not finished with songs I started writing more than 5 years ago, songs I wanted as prog epics. But I’m still struggling to find correct structures, transitions, soloing back riffs, etc. I guess I’m finding difficulties where they not are and don’t know…
satch_jr is offline  
post #10 of 15 (permalink) Old 02-27-2013, 10:19 AM Thread Starter
 
Join Date: Nov 2007
Location: Indianapolis
Posts: 2,610
Re: Instrumental songwriting help

Hey all, great suggestions from everyone.

Rasta, I listened to Hat and Fact and I hear what you are saying, the transitions are fluid (or not fluid when the aren't meant to be) I have always thought of them as vocal song structure also. I might need to branch out and veer away from that.

IBA, I think that if you are capable of writing music, your a musician and what your feeling about "what chords" is natural to how a song is written, I have heard Satch talk about where he heard the song going and what he wants the feeling to be. Each chord has it's own personality, finding the right chords isn't something to be ashamed of.

Satch, sometimes the transition just flows and sometimes I just hit a wall. I have created 3 songs from one session because what I think should be the next progression ends up being a better song unto itself. Although I never quite finish those either. Good luck on the solo. When I have come back to previous starts, the magic I had that day is gone. That one take that had a flaw or two and got deleted, should have been the "one"

I have been trying to use drums to transition more and the key has been that I finally learned to program my own MIDI drum parts, something that has helped immensely.

Thanks guys. Been gear shopping the last couple of days but will be working on it more this week.

Jeff
satchmo72 is offline  
post #11 of 15 (permalink) Old 03-01-2013, 02:32 AM
 
Join Date: Apr 2011
Location: France - Strasbourg
Posts: 511
Reviews: 6
Re: Instrumental songwriting help

The loss of the magic of inspiration is a pain in the a.. which happens all the time, I remember once having imagined in my mind a whole song before falling asleep one night, just like Steve Vai describes he dreamed about a song, playing it in my mind many many times and don't even remember a clue of it in the next morning...
The only thing I remember is that I used to have a whole song in my mind...but that's all...

On the other hand, I'm also loosing focus on the original ideas of a song if I insist too much finding a variation or progression of it. This happens many times to me. But now with all the recordings tools we have, I try to record my finding before it blows itself away...
And this keeps the initial -inspiration/idea/mood/whatever it is- pretty much intact. And I'm absolutely happy with that.
satch_jr is offline  
post #12 of 15 (permalink) Old 03-05-2013, 01:15 PM
 
Join Date: Feb 2013
Location: Canada
Posts: 19
Re: Instrumental songwriting help

My take on this subject is that if you are writing instrumental music-then listen to the masters of the genre that you are trying to compose in and steal their ideas. Every genre of music has it's cliches and 'chestnuts' so to speak but they are there for a reason,you have to see what worked in the past and has stood the test of time. Certain chord progressions have been in use for hundreds of years because they are practical and pleasing to the ear.(Bach)
If you are having trouble connecting song structures,perhaps you need to simplify.

(Stealing ideas) Is a tried and true method. If you are writing blues instrumentals,you would study 'Hideaway''The Stumble' and borrow turnarounds/licks because those are established classics of the genre. If you want to write classical music for guitar well, you would study something like Bouree,Instrumental shred,borrow from Satch,Vai Gilbert,Malmsteen... if you write jazz fusion listen to Weather Report etc. etc.

My point is that once you in a given style,half the work is already done,you just have to put your original spin on it. If what you're writing doesn't HAVE an identifiable style then that is something that needs to be addressed. My 2 cents.
Megalon is offline  
post #13 of 15 (permalink) Old 06-21-2013, 07:43 PM
 
Join Date: May 2013
Location: Florida
Posts: 55
Re: Instrumental songwriting help

Quote:
Originally Posted by Megalon View Post
My take on this subject is that if you are writing instrumental music-then listen to the masters of the genre that you are trying to compose in and steal their ideas. Every genre of music has it's cliches and 'chestnuts' so to speak but they are there for a reason,you have to see what worked in the past and has stood the test of time. Certain chord progressions have been in use for hundreds of years because they are practical and pleasing to the ear.(Bach)
If you are having trouble connecting song structures,perhaps you need to simplify.

(Stealing ideas) Is a tried and true method. If you are writing blues instrumentals,you would study 'Hideaway''The Stumble' and borrow turnarounds/licks because those are established classics of the genre. If you want to write classical music for guitar well, you would study something like Bouree,Instrumental shred,borrow from Satch,Vai Gilbert,Malmsteen... if you write jazz fusion listen to Weather Report etc. etc.

My point is that once you in a given style,half the work is already done,you just have to put your original spin on it. If what you're writing doesn't HAVE an identifiable style then that is something that needs to be addressed. My 2 cents.
I think "borrowed ideas" would be a better term don't you think? Because you are not actually stealing stuff from one song and putting it into the other, leaving the first song without it.

I don't think it's stealing at all, sure you can borrow or copycat some progressions or whatever from a song you like, but bear in mind that two factors should be taken in consideration when doing this:

1.- Be original, if you are going to borrow a progression at least try to make it your own, add a little something to it, harmonically, melodically and in terms of timing (or meter) maybe a chord tension, maybe in a different key, different timing, throw in a substitute dominant into it: Nobody owns chord progressions, but you can make them your own in your compositions.

2.- First, try to write your OWN music without copycatting anything, sure if you make some harmonic analysis on it you will surely find the most common of progressions in the world, but at least it came out from YOUR inspiration and it came straight and naturally from you, thus being authentic to you.

Remember what you write music for, you don't write music to get people to like it, or like you: you write music to develop spiritually healing tools for yourself which then other people can find useful as healing tools as well.

Good Luck and happy writing.
ErickMoral is offline  
post #14 of 15 (permalink) Old 08-13-2013, 05:38 PM
 
Join Date: Jul 2013
Location: Illinois
Posts: 2
Re: Instrumental songwriting help

I agree with Megalon. Think of several tunes you know of that have similar verse and chorus characteristics as your piece and study their bridges. Whether or not you are stealing/borrowing, you are still composing music and you will gain experience and control.

As far as coming up with content, there are an infinite number of ways or processes for generating music. One way to go would be to take an idea that you are already using, such as your main motivic idea, harmonic progression, etc, and rework it somehow. You can alter it rhythmically, change pitches, or both or change some other characteristic. The possibilities are endless.

Hope that helps.
ccstringsusa is offline  
post #15 of 15 (permalink) Old 08-13-2013, 09:46 PM
 
mi2tom's Avatar
 
Join Date: Jul 2005
Location: Penang, Malaysia
Posts: 7,559
Re: Instrumental songwriting help

I don't know its the spark of the moment most of the time for me. I don't have any idea today but the next day sometimes I do, just be open minded.

But after I've got it I normally listen to it again and again until I'm sick of it to know does the transition smooth or right or unique or etc
mi2tom is offline  
Reply

Quick Reply
Message:
Options

Register Now



In order to be able to post messages on the Jemsite forums, you must first register.
Please enter your desired user name, your email address and other required details in the form below.

User Name:
Password
Please enter a password for your user account. Note that passwords are case-sensitive.

Password:


Confirm Password:
Email Address

IMPORTANT: You will be required to activate your account so please ensure that your email address is correct.

If you do not receive your activation check your spam folder before using the CONTACT US form (at the bottom right of each page).



Email Address:
OR

Log-in









Human Verification

In order to verify that you are a human and not a spam bot, please enter the answer into the following box below based on the instructions contained in the graphic.



Thread Tools
Show Printable Version Show Printable Version
Email this Page Email this Page
Display Modes
Linear Mode Linear Mode



Similar Threads
Thread Thread Starter Forum Replies Last Post
Songwriting tips+tricks projectjem Chat Forum 4 12-02-2009 04:55 AM
Songwriting - Composing/Theory tt0511 Guitar Lessons & Music Theory 51 10-13-2007 09:56 PM
silly songwriting exercise EL-CeeDee Guitar Lessons & Music Theory 9 05-25-2007 06:52 PM
Songwriting Xavier 7 Guitar Lessons & Music Theory 1 08-15-2004 06:47 AM
Major songwriting block Jeff Guitar Lessons & Music Theory 3 05-08-2003 01:54 PM

Posting Rules  
You may post new threads
You may post replies
You may not post attachments
You may not edit your posts

BB code is On
Smilies are On
[IMG] code is On
HTML code is Off
Trackbacks are On
Pingbacks are On
Refbacks are On

 
For the best viewing experience please update your browser to Google Chrome