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Author Topic: Instrumental Songwriting Help!  (Read 9854 times)

Offline Torin

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Instrumental Songwriting Help!
« Reply #15 on: February 11, 2008, 03:05:40 PM »
I recently had the pleasure of meeting an engineer/producer who had gold and platinum records on his walls and has worked with some pretty big names. He gave me some interesting advise that I found useful so I thought I would share. He said to focus your thoughts is two modes: create mode or edit mode. While creating don't think about what else might be better, or if what your doing is working or anything really other than focusing on creating. Just let whatever flows out flow out. Then in the edit mode of thinking, be critical and take away anything you don't like, being careful not to slip into create mode and think about what you could do that would fix it. By going back and forth and keeping them seperate you don't inhibit your creativity by second guessing yourself or otherwise blocking the creative process, and you allow yourself the chance to be honest with what you like and don't like. Hope that makes sense, he put it much more concisely than I did. On a different note I have found that what works for me is to find something to inspire. Often my songs come from things that have nothing to do with music. I Just find some experience that creates that feeling of needing to release emotion, (not usually intentionally), and then when I pick up a guitar that emotional response flows out very easily and I don't have to think too much about it. Sometimes that experience inspires me to write lyrics first, and then later those lyrics will inspire a song to go with them. Often this process will get me most of a song (working on that), and then I will fill in the holes by thinking more logically about it or just trying things until something fits. Anyway, thats my two cents, hope it helps.... happy writing!
“To stop the flow of music would be like the stopping of time itself, incredible and inconceivable.”
-Aaron Copland

Instrumental Songwriting Help!

Offline simonlock

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Instrumental Songwriting Help!
« Reply #16 on: February 11, 2008, 05:27:27 PM »
I'm diggin this thread more all the time.
 

Instrumental Songwriting Help!

Offline Paul Marossy

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Instrumental Songwriting Help!
« Reply #17 on: February 11, 2008, 06:06:18 PM »
Yeah, there's lots of great suggestions so far. [^]

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Instrumental Songwriting Help!

Offline uburoibob

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Instrumental Songwriting Help!
« Reply #18 on: February 11, 2008, 09:11:50 PM »
When I am writing, I try and figure out what I am trying to say, first. Not necessarily with words or lyrics - could be just a feeling or a visual or thoughts of a person or event. I often just sit and play and think about that.

If I have no musical ideas, I'll just let my fingers wander, but just about always not let myself drift into any "riffs" like blues riffs, or rock riffs, etc.

Also, I tend to not use a pick when doing this as it opens things to harmony that wouldn't otherwise happen. From the wandering and restrictions, I'll typically find myself playing more melodic meanderings.

Also, I record everything. If I hear something that's intriguing, I will repeat it a few times. Then move on. Then try to recall it.

Sometimes, this process takes many sessions to get something that's strong. And, most certainly, some sessions are MUCH better than others. So, some sessions get almost magical, where others are just good practice.

This is also cool to do with another musician(s). Vow not to jam in the traditional sense - ie: one person plays chords while the other solos - but to have a more free-flowing exchange. Essentially, this gets you thinking in an improvisationaly supportive sense, rather than as a lead player.

Ultimately, it comes down to melody. Doesn't need to be catchy hook. Just something that expresses how you feel. Might even be a good idea to just write down words that express what you are trying to say - they don't have to rhyme or even be rhythmically significant.

It's important to just sit down and set aside time to do this every day. The more you do it and force yourself to play stuff besides lead guitar or rhythm guitar, the more you'll find it easier to let your fingers express what your insides are feeling.

When you've got some melodic passages, then you can start crafting supportive figures for it - chords, counterpoint, bass lines, etc. Then add in the fabulous solos you've been dying to play since the beginning of the process.

Anyway, that's how I write instrumentals.

For songs with vocals I generally write the words first and then find the melody with my voice. Then figure out the accompaniment - chords, bass, parts for different instruments, etc.

Growing up studying the Beatles really helped in my songwriting. I can't think of better models to emulate.

Bill Frisell's work has been equally inspiring in putting together my instrumentals, primarily cuz they aren't about the solo, but about how melody can be stretched throughout a composition.

Don't know if any of this helps, Simon, but it's the way I do it.

Bob


2001 Parker Fly Single 2 Silver  â€¢ 1997 Parker Fly Concert Burnt Butterscotch  â€¢  1999 Parker Fly Artist Custom Hardtail Butterscotch  â€¢  1998 Fly Classic in Transparent Dark Blue  â€¢  1998 Fly Classic in Cherry Red with DiBurro Roland Mod •  http://bobmartin1111.com
1999 Parker Fly Artist Custom Hardtail Butterscotch -   2000 Fly Standard Classic in Cherry Red - http://bobmartin1111.com

Instrumental Songwriting Help!

Offline loumt123

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Instrumental Songwriting Help!
« Reply #19 on: February 11, 2008, 09:36:02 PM »
I've noticed that making a song by humming it helps me get out of guitar mentality and into composition mentality. Humming, piano, even writing notes on a page always gives me something entirely different than if I was to pluck a tune out on the guitar. Experiment a little.
 

Instrumental Songwriting Help!

Offline uburoibob

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Instrumental Songwriting Help!
« Reply #20 on: February 11, 2008, 09:40:18 PM »
Very good point, Lou. I meant to get into that more. Singing is HUGE - singing melody, just making it up. Or playing on a different instrument. Or, even using a guitar synth with other instruments dialed in, and phrasing like that instrument...

Bob

2001 Parker Fly Single 2 Silver  â€¢ 1997 Parker Fly Concert Burnt Butterscotch  â€¢  1999 Parker Fly Artist Custom Hardtail Butterscotch  â€¢  1998 Fly Classic in Transparent Dark Blue  â€¢  1998 Fly Classic in Cherry Red with DiBurro Roland Mod •  http://bobmartin1111.com
1999 Parker Fly Artist Custom Hardtail Butterscotch -   2000 Fly Standard Classic in Cherry Red - http://bobmartin1111.com

Instrumental Songwriting Help!

Offline loumt123

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Instrumental Songwriting Help!
« Reply #21 on: February 11, 2008, 09:45:36 PM »
I've been trying to play back everything I hum...I found it's helped fine tune my ear and translate thought into music a little easier.
 

Instrumental Songwriting Help!

Offline Picks

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Instrumental Songwriting Help!
« Reply #22 on: February 13, 2008, 02:59:40 AM »
Okay, I aplogize first because I sincerely do not want to offend or insult you.

Just looking at your Fly collection is almost enough to answer your question for me. Not sure how you afford that many Fly's, but I bet Martone doesn't even have that many. Think about what that might mean. Are you a musician or a hobbyist? This will obviously affect the level at which you can produce music. When your rent relies on it, your work reflects that. If you are a pro musician, you're obviously very successful with all those Fly's!!! :-)

Most 'real' musicians, scrape by. It takes sacrifice to develop what you seek, and what you're really looking for, is something to say in your music. You're trying to realize it by force of will, thinking learning new scales or weird chords, playing something 'mindblowing' will make a difference.

I took some lessons from a guy out here named Simon Jarrett who also build amazing amps. He is probably one of the best players in the city and no one really knows it. He reminded me once that the greatest improvisors in jazz were all 'junkies'. Think about that one. No, please don't use drugs, but it's a sad truth.

I'm not sure if this will help as it sounds like you're looking for some kind of magic recipe. I know listening to your idol too much will freeze you because you will always live in that shadow.

Quit listening to guitar music.

Or as Zappa said...Shut up and Play Guitar! :-)

A.




quote:
Originally posted by simonlock

Guys, I am lined up to get a lesson with Martone on songwriting. I'm overwhelmed with expectations and flooded with too much information that I'm still trying to wrap my brain around. How the hell do you go about writing something meaningful? I like a lot of aspects of my playing and feel that what I do already should work for at least half of a song. The trouble is I'm not very good at writing those hooky riffs. When I hear an instrumental that is really good it usually contains a solid motif that is repeated and/or modified. Thing is these really shocking parts that get my attention aren't the type of thing that you just pick up the guitar and play. Sure once you get a riff down it's easier to modify slightly but the first time it's gotta be worked out. Whats a good way to start?

I thought about designing a song on paper first. Using a paint by numbers formula like ABCA or something and then developing a vision. I thought I'd get a reason for the song before i even start and then try to amplify that feeling and try to tell a story. For a melody line I was thinking of writing lyrics that I would only use to develop the melody and then work out some crazy passages to add fire to the statement.

I can listen to phenomenal playing that has beautiful phrasing but if it doesn't have something mindblowing in it I'm not very interested. I've bought 8 CDs lately from Guitar Nine and was pretty underwhelmed. It made me realize just how remarkable Martone is. I don't want to write tunes that are just shred. I want each one to have it's own signature and feel. I suppose having such high expectations is a limiting factor so hopefully with support from you guys and help from Dave I may just pull something off. I just dont want to improvise an entire tune leaving everything to chance.

Simon
Vancouver,BC
2000 Fly Supreme
1998 Fly Supreme w/Jerome Little knobs
1999 Fly Artist w/Ken Parker sig and Jerome Little knobs
2006 Fly Nylon w/Jerome Little knobs
2002 Fly Classic Hardtail
2006 Fly Classic
2006 Fly Mojo
1999 Fly Deluxe w/Gen1s
2001 MidiFly


 

Instrumental Songwriting Help!

Offline Paul Marossy

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Instrumental Songwriting Help!
« Reply #23 on: February 13, 2008, 03:32:45 AM »
quote:
Most 'real' musicians, scrape by. It takes sacrifice to develop what you seek, and what you're really looking for, is something to say in your music.


I have known a few exremely good and talented pro musicians here in Vegas, and some of them played on The Strip and stuff, but were always living hand to mouth. It's a shame. That's one reason why I have my engineering day job and why I never really tried to go "professional" - I just value financial security too much since I never had much of it while growing up. Maybe it's just the nature of this city? [B)]

quote:
I took some lessons from a guy out here named Simon Jarrett who also build amazing amps. He is probably one of the best players in the city and no one really knows it.


Yeah, I bet there are lots of people in that category. [:(]

quote:
I'm not sure if this will help as it sounds like you're looking for some kind of magic recipe. I know listening to your idol too much will freeze you because you will always live in that shadow.



It can. It makes me sad, for example, when I see someone who has decided to become a Stevie Ray Vaughn clone - I mean they dress just like him, can play all of his songs, do all of his solos, mimic all of the nuances in his playing, etc., etc. That's an accomplishment, but I also feel like it's a waste of time and talent when you go that far. Get your own personality for crying out loud! [V]

Sorry, that sort of thing just bothers me a lot. I can appreciate the tribute bands and stuff, but some people just go way too far. I am really for developing strong individualistic traits. Players like Allan Holdsworth, for example, would not have ever come on the seen if all they ever wanted to do was to be a copy of someone else. I'm glad that people like him come along and want to be their own person and blaze their own trails to inspire others to do the same. [^]

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« Last Edit: February 13, 2008, 03:35:53 AM by Paul Marossy »

Instrumental Songwriting Help!

Offline loumt123

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Instrumental Songwriting Help!
« Reply #24 on: February 13, 2008, 10:29:35 AM »
Sorry, but I have to completely disagree with this. I'm not sure if it's their business practices or what, but theres no reason a musician can't make a solid living. My teacher isn't a famous professional, but with hard work and a solid plan music helped him buy a corvette. In fact, he has a habit of saying "Hey, Louie you like this, guitar bought this yea".

    My point is I really don't think it's that hard to make a living off of music. I think if you start building your business from the ground up (phasing in students aside from your "real" job) you're making a MINIMUM of 30 an hour (the lowest price for lessons I've seen were 60 a month, 15 dollars for 1 half hour lesson, 4 lessons a month). On top of this you can gig, and I bet you love your job [:D]. I think it's very plausible to make a solid living off of guitar, so I take offense to saying "Real" musicians scrape by. Smart musicians take their ideas and turn it into a business.
 

Instrumental Songwriting Help!

Offline Paul Marossy

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Instrumental Songwriting Help!
« Reply #25 on: February 13, 2008, 10:54:23 AM »
quote:
My point is I really don't think it's that hard to make a living off of music. I think if you start building your business from the ground up (phasing in students aside from your "real" job) you're making a MINIMUM of 30 an hour (the lowest price for lessons I've seen were 60 a month, 15 dollars for 1 half hour lesson, 4 lessons a month). On top of this you can gig, and I bet you love your job . I think it's very plausible to make a solid living off of guitar, so I take offense to saying "Real" musicians scrape by. Smart musicians take their ideas and turn it into a business.


Yeah, it's true you can make money teaching. In fact, one of my local friends who is a world class musician is making more money teaching than he ever did gigging around town. I guess that's OK if you like to teach people how to play this or that song. I just don't have any interest whatsoever in doing that.

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Instrumental Songwriting Help!

Offline simonlock

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Instrumental Songwriting Help!
« Reply #26 on: February 13, 2008, 11:48:27 AM »
I know Simon Jarret and he is a great guitarist. I could've done without the rest of the post though.

Simon
Vancouver,BC
2000 Fly Supreme
1998 Fly Supreme w/Jerome Little knobs
1999 Fly Artist w/Ken Parker sig and Jerome Little knobs
2006 Fly Nylon w/Jerome Little knobs
2002 Fly Classic Hardtail
2006 Fly Classic
2006 Fly Mojo
1999 Fly Deluxe w/Gen1s
2001 MidiFly
 

Instrumental Songwriting Help!

Offline simonlock

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Instrumental Songwriting Help!
« Reply #27 on: February 13, 2008, 11:54:16 AM »
The harder you work and the better you play the more money you'll make. I made 30/hr teaching yesterday and since I quit working on cars (how I got all my flys) I am a pro. I don't have any other source of income except what I'm doing with my guitar.

Your post doesn't really serve any purpose except to reveal your own flawed values. I don't need your beliefs thanks.

Simon
Vancouver,BC
2000 Fly Supreme
1998 Fly Supreme w/Jerome Little knobs
1999 Fly Artist w/Ken Parker sig and Jerome Little knobs
2006 Fly Nylon w/Jerome Little knobs
2002 Fly Classic Hardtail
2006 Fly Classic
2006 Fly Mojo
1999 Fly Deluxe w/Gen1s
2001 MidiFly
 

Instrumental Songwriting Help!

Offline loumt123

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Instrumental Songwriting Help!
« Reply #28 on: February 13, 2008, 12:04:51 PM »
Amen simon. Hard work and perseverance will get you what you want out of life.

 And PS I didn't know you were a fulltime teacher/musician. Man, that has to be an awesome job [:D]
 

Instrumental Songwriting Help!

Offline simonlock

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Instrumental Songwriting Help!
« Reply #29 on: February 13, 2008, 12:06:45 PM »
Yup it sure beats hurtin your back all day.