songwriting

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frankie
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Post by frankie » Thu Feb 21, 2008 2:39 pm

I can't answer half those questions - it just sort of happens when it happens (hence the reason I'm nowhere near as prolific as the likes of Messrs Hibbett & Pony I guess)

It doesn't help that I am a really strict self-censor, I'd say 75% of what I write, when I listen to / play it back the next day I realise it was crap so forget it altogether. I would be dying with embarassment if I was doing that FAWM thing!

All this talk of dictaphones and phone messages reminds me of the one golden rule that I do apply - if I can't remember it the next day using the power of my mind then it must have been shit in the first place.

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frankie
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Post by frankie » Thu Feb 21, 2008 2:39 pm

I can't answer half those questions - it just sort of happens when it happens (hence the reason I'm nowhere near as prolific as the likes of Messrs Hibbett & Pony I guess)

It doesn't help that I am a really strict self-censor, I'd say 75% of what I write, when I listen to / play it back the next day I realise it was crap so forget it altogether. I would be dying with embarassment if I was doing that FAWM thing!

All this talk of dictaphones and phone messages reminds me of the one golden rule that I do apply - if I can't remember it the next day using the power of my mind then it must have been shit in the first place.

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Post by tompony » Thu Feb 21, 2008 2:45 pm

Ah yes, I do quite often go with the "if I forget it then it probably wasn't that great anyway" philosophy.

I don't think I'm that prolific, I only wrote about six songs in the whole of last year and I really had to force out most of those to fit music that the band had written. I have bursts of activity with massive barren gaps between them. And the gaps seem to get bigger and bigger as time goes on. Weep.

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Post by MJHibbett » Thu Feb 21, 2008 3:17 pm

frankie wrote:All this talk of dictaphones and phone messages reminds me of the one golden rule that I do apply - if I can't remember it the next day using the power of my mind then it must have been shit in the first place.
ERROR! But how do you KNOW? It could have been the most amazing thing EVER, so amazing it blew yr tiny mind man, and you forgot it - aah, how about THAT?

OK, yes, usually when you DO tape stuff and forget it, on re-listening it turns out to be drunken mumbling about fridges or something, but not always! NEARLY, but not always!

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Post by let it ride » Thu Feb 21, 2008 3:42 pm

Haha, when I used to record things to remember on a cassette thingy, I'd say completely weird things referring to what I was playing on the guitar. I have my own system of remembering things, so it'd be like

whispering not to wake my mum up:
"4, c plus, 3, 7, d minus 2, plus 3"

It sounds like someone slowly going insane when you listen to it, ha ha!

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Post by Contravene » Thu Feb 21, 2008 3:45 pm

what light wrote:whispering not to wake my mum up:
"4, c plus, 3, 7, d minus 2, plus 3"
Poetry in hex!

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Re: songwriting

Post by gloom button » Thu Feb 21, 2008 3:46 pm

what light wrote:I hope no one minds that I started a separate thread for this.
BANNED.

I've just been reading an interview with Jason Molina, and I like what he has to say about this, because it's so much at odds with the "wait for inspiration" way I do things.
After 12 years in music, what still gets you up and inspires to write and perform?

it has always been the idea that I have got to work hard. nothing else can make sense in my world or in my way of thinking if i'm not willing to put in the sweat to write. i don't always end up with great songs, but the learning that comes with working hard on an idea is always something that leads to better music. as far as performing goes, i don't consider myself a performer. i am a songwriter. part of the process is to take out the songs once in a while and play them for people. there are great moments of inspiration that come from touring all the time, and i value these as much as the writing process.
And I like the end of the interview just because I can imagine him saying it in that deadpan voice.
I remember you told me in our earlier interview that Ohia is a red Hawaiian flower. Do you know there is a music blog called Songs: Ohio? Do you read blogs much?

wow. i am not aware of this. i never read blogs, really. i think they waste too much songwriting time.

In the last one month there have been some eleven blog postings about you.

ok.
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Post by Jeezy Creezy » Thu Feb 21, 2008 3:51 pm

MJHibbett wrote:ERROR! But how do you KNOW? It could have been the most amazing thing EVER, so amazing it blew yr tiny mind man, and you forgot it - aah, how about THAT?

I agree. This also applies to answers universal mysteries that come upon you at 4am just as you're about to nod off. Note pads at the side of the bed can be useful on these occasions but a bit scary in the morning.
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Post by gloom button » Tue Feb 26, 2008 5:21 pm

There's something I don't know the name for (some kind of synchronicity, I guess) that I wish I could use more in writing songs. It's when the sound the instrument is making and the lyric are in sync. Like, there's this song I always used to like where the singer sings "and the working load just tallied up/and you went down beneath it all, just like anybody would" over gentle electric guitar strums, and then just after the last word of that line he violently palm mutes the strings, and what I like is how that recontextualises the last few words of the line into bitterness and disappointment. Anyway. I wish I could do things like that, is all.
the trouble with personalities, they're too wrapped up in style
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Re: songwriting

Post by let it ride » Tue Mar 18, 2008 11:34 pm

I wish I had people to sing in harmonies with. I mean, that I got to decide everything but I could make them come and sing with me for gigs and recordings when I needed it. I bloody love good harmonies!

And especially all the stuff I'm drawn to, the alt country stuff is so based around it. Oh it's just the best.

But, songwriting: I haven't written anything in a while. Does anyone else find themselves not 'having time' for it, which really translates as 'not making time' and doing stupid things instead like sitting online doing nothing great.

Going to Stockholm, sans instruments, ALWAYS gets me creative though. I always record weird little songs, in the middle of the night, with Garageband and the built-in-mic, and have to sing all quietly so my mum doesn't wake up. Rock n roll!
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Re: songwriting

Post by soft revolution » Wed Mar 19, 2008 2:05 pm

what light wrote:But, songwriting: I haven't written anything in a while. Does anyone else find themselves not 'having time' for it, which really translates as 'not making time' and doing stupid things instead like sitting online doing nothing great.
Up until a month ago I had loads of half fininshed songs but I'd booked a gig, so I *had* to finish them.

It meant a few late nights, but it was worth it!
And by me, I mean, Flexo.

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Re: songwriting

Post by simplecarnival » Thu Mar 20, 2008 10:15 pm

>1. Do you have any particular "songwriting formula" you go by?

I think of songs as having three components: music, lyrics, and concept. The concept is basically, "What would I like to hear that doesn't exist yet?" I'll stockpile music, lyrics, and concepts, then match them up later on, in combinations that weren't initially meant to go together. Sometimes I'll come up with everything at once, though. There's no hard and fast rules.


>Any special circumstances under which you write (like only in the night time or in a special room or only after eating your favourite sweets?)

Only when I have a project to work on. I've got too many other things going on in my life -- I'd never get anything done if I didn't focus on the specific project I'm doing at the time. Having a balance is good, though. The time off between songwriting projects allows the creative well to refill and provides the time to reflect on what I'd like to do differently the next time around.


>2. What comes first, the melody or the lyrics?

Every song is a different. Part of the fun is discovering exactly how the next song comes together (if it ever does). It's an adventure.


>3. How long does it generally take for you to write a song? Minutes, days, weeks?

Yes, yes, and yes! No two songs are the same. If a song doesn't come together after a few months, though, it gets permanently shelved. I don't understand how anybody finishes a song they started ten years ago, though I know writers who have done this.


>4. Do you have a special notebook for writing songs down, or do you just do it on scrap bits of paper or whatever is near-by?

Cheap notepads from the dollar store or Wal-Mart. I've got them everywhere. I'll jot down ideas even if I don't have a specific project to work on, because you never know where those ideas may lead, or how they might come in handy (sometimes years after the fact).


>5. Do you think consciously about it or do you just let it happen spontaneously?

Yes and yes. I think both are important. If you never analyze what you do, you won't be able to figure out what's going on if you hit a creative rut. And when you're in a spontaneous mode, all the thinking you did about what you would *like* to do often comes to the surface in a pleasing way.
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Re: songwriting

Post by let it ride » Sat Mar 22, 2008 12:09 am

OH my. Oh my oh my oh my!

I just saw that one of my favourite Swedish artists, Marit Bergman, is coming to Pocklington (!!!) to play, so I just have to go. And it's really soon too, in April. Oh I need to go, and I need to give her a demo if I can. She's brilliant and has told me over e-mail before that she likes my stuff and wants to hear more. HOW exciting! Now I have total pressure on me to do something great. Eep. Probably needed though!
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Re: songwriting

Post by let it ride » Mon Mar 24, 2008 3:28 pm

Oh I'm so excited, I bought a new songwriting book yesterday, and I know it's weird but I'm sort of obsessed with notebooks and feel really glad I have one that makes me feel so inspired to write things. And I have already too! Granted, with no instruments around it's harder to but I'm using my teenage methods of writing tons and tons of lyrics first and then fitting them in and changing things around when I get the melodies in.
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Re: songwriting

Post by jayen_aitch » Mon Mar 24, 2008 4:17 pm

Wow... when are we going to Pocklington then?

Heh. They're meant to have a really nice arts centre there... is that where she's playing?

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Re: songwriting

Post by let it ride » Mon Mar 24, 2008 6:08 pm

Yes, it's at the arts centre together with Kathryn Williams! On April 12th. Sounds dead nice!

I cannot WAIT to go home at the moment and play play play. Electric guitar, acoustic guitar, harmonica and piano. AH YES!
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Re: songwriting

Post by let it ride » Mon Apr 21, 2008 2:04 pm

ARGH!! I am going crazy. I feel like every time I sit down, with either piano, acoustic guitar or, the ol' favourite, electric guitar, I get really, really close to getting where I want and then it just completely goes away, my playing goes funny, the lyrics stop coming, and the whole thing doesn't go anywhere further. I miss sitting outdoors playing, it's the ultimate thing for me songwriting-wise, it just brings out the best in what little ability I have. I wonder if this means I'll have to bring a guitar with me to Sweden this summer, so I can write out in the archipelago... you have to measure the pain of train and plane journey with guitar vs. possible outcome I guess.

Sigh. I just haven't writte anyhting i've been even vaguely happy with for four months!
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Re: songwriting

Post by Life on Deck » Mon Apr 21, 2008 2:19 pm

what light wrote: I wonder if this means I'll have to bring a guitar with me to Sweden this summer, so I can write out in the archipelago... you have to measure the pain of train and plane journey with guitar vs. possible outcome I guess.
När du kommer till Sverige kan låner du min gitarr om du vill. Jag ha tre.
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Re: songwriting

Post by let it ride » Mon Apr 21, 2008 3:03 pm

Tack, men jag är ju vänsterhänt! Är du också det?
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Re: songwriting

Post by soft revolution » Mon Apr 21, 2008 3:50 pm

what light wrote:I miss sitting outdoors playing, it's the ultimate thing for me songwriting-wise, it just brings out the best in what little ability I have. I wonder if this means I'll have to bring a guitar with me to Sweden this summer, so I can write out in the archipelago... you have to measure the pain of train and plane journey with guitar vs. possible outcome I guess.

Sigh. I just haven't writte anyhting i've been even vaguely happy with for four months!
I wrote a song about the archipelago a few months ago, it's the most amazing place, though I got stuck with a jumble of words and it took me ages to actually write the lyrics. I'm still not happy with them.

Hope things start to click soon, it's horrible when that happens. Have you tried finding someone else to write a few songs with? That sometimes helps.
And by me, I mean, Flexo.

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