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Death By Wall of Text
Metal newbie

Joined: Wed Apr 28, 2021 9:18 pm
Posts: 227
PostPosted: Wed May 12, 2021 12:46 pm 
 

I've noticed in most interviews with musicians that the "usual" songwriting process goes something like this - they have some riffs or sketches they like, they roughly put them together into demos/songs, and then at some point down the line they start considering the subject matter/lyrics.

Now, the way I write is basically the opposite since my very first attempts - 90% of the time I can't write anything that goes anywhere or feels decent without a clear sense what the track is supposed to be about. I've had great riffs that I wanted to turn into songs, but without a clear idea for a subject matter and progression, it always either fell apart, or even if I ended up with a completed song it just seemed bland in the end. Pretty much all the best stuff I'm most happy with started with a clear image of "this is gonna be a track about...".

Just wondering how common that is, and what's your experience in this regard? Are there some other more unconventional approaches to songwriting that work for you?

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yentass
Metalhead

Joined: Sun Nov 23, 2003 9:28 am
Posts: 912
Location: Israel
PostPosted: Thu May 13, 2021 5:30 am 
 

...Then by all means stick to what works for you. There are no "rules" that'll work 100% of the time for 100% of the artists.

Do be mightful, though, that you could be your own worst critic sometimes; are the bland songs really bland, or just feel relatively bland to you because the concept-first ones are more challenging to write - and thus, demand a higher emotional investment from you and as a result, feel more rewarding and meaningful once completed?
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Death By Wall of Text
Metal newbie

Joined: Wed Apr 28, 2021 9:18 pm
Posts: 227
PostPosted: Thu May 13, 2021 12:58 pm 
 

There might be something to it, but in fact often the concept-first ones are easier for me to write - some of the tracks I'm still most satisfied with after years came together almost effortlessly despite being sometimes fairly complex. On the other hand, the ones that are based on just cool riffs often took ages to get "right" (especially the flow of the track), and in the end many of them just felt... flat when completed.

Though I mostly made this thread because I'm curious if others do it any other way than what I described or "just write riffs and see what sticks".

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interstellar_medium
Metalhead

Joined: Thu Mar 12, 2020 9:41 am
Posts: 750
Location: Russia
PostPosted: Sat May 15, 2021 12:32 pm 
 

Some people write from the melody down. IIRC YJM and Peavy Wagner at least used to work that way.
Some people even write lyrics before coming up with a melody; some put pre-existing poems to music.
Some people start from the drums. Ruoja of Ajattara writes this way a lot, either composing the drum track himself or asking the band's drummer to come up with something (this is where co-writing credits come from).
Cadaveria, who doesn't play any instruments, sings bits and pieces into a recording device and brings that to her bandmates to basically transcribe and build upon.
...and some people do all of this to some extent )))

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Prigione Eterna
Metal newbie

Joined: Sun Jul 12, 2020 12:43 pm
Posts: 135
PostPosted: Sat May 15, 2021 9:01 pm 
 

Sometimes to finish a song or to build one up from sparse bits I've taken what little I had (riffs, strumming patterns, melodies or whatever) and played every possible variation of it...adding different voicings, changing tempo/tonality, or, say, arpeggiating chords instead of picking them, doing a clean version of a distorted riff, things like that.

I've heard of people (especially non-native English speakers) that in order to write a vocal melody, they think in gibberish rather than actual words, write it that way, and afterwards come up with the words (I've done it).

I've read somewhere that Buzz from Melvins writes singing parts on the guitar.

Not sure where I've heard this one, I think it was Max Cavalera talking about Nailbomb; basically, Alex Newport told him that all Fudge Tunnel is Black Sabbath riffs in reverse.

Not metal, but there's a single by David J from Bauhaus (the band, not the movement) and poet René Halkett from Bauhaus (the movement, not the band) that was composed and recorded by the former over recordings of the latter reciting poems.

Again, not metal, but I think I've read that Warren Ellis from Nick Cave and The Bad Seeds kept an archive of recorded loops and they wrote songs by taking loops and building upon them.

This one takes cake as far as I'm concerned: http://dimaensionxblog.blogspot.com/2008/08/biography.html
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ShaolinLambKiller
King Asshole

Joined: Fri Dec 07, 2007 6:10 pm
Posts: 13272
Location: United States
PostPosted: Sun May 16, 2021 2:32 pm 
 

I've had quite few projects where I was requested to basically write and complete the final drums based on the description of the material tackled. as in "i want to do something early 90's death metal, minimal blasting and when it is, it's single foot or hammer blasts, a few doom passages. but overall a sorta mid tempo." as example and I write drums for that for an easy multiple of 4 and wait for trackings back. honestly the most odd to me cause I'm used to at least having a guitar track. but some great releases have came out from it all label released. so who knows, if it works it works.
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CrudeNoiseMonger
Metal newbie

Joined: Thu Dec 31, 2020 10:06 am
Posts: 72
Location: United States
PostPosted: Wed May 26, 2021 10:12 pm 
 

Prigione Eterna wrote:
I've heard of people (especially non-native English speakers) that in order to write a vocal melody, they think in gibberish rather than actual words, write it that way, and afterwards come up with the words (I've done it).


It's more common than you think. Personally, i've been using that approach for years. Basically mumbling and scat singing until you can figure out more or less how the syllables, phrasing, timing, etc will work out. Then you write the lyrics to fit that.

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