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#1038771 - 02/07/14 07:25 PM Why no study materials for music writing?  
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Bugsey Offline
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Why is it that there are boatloads of books on lyric writing, but so little on melody writing and music writing?

I mean you might find a mel bay book on melody or something really formal, but nothing as in depth as the stuff on lyircs.

I'd love the read materials on marrying a melody with a lyric, the emotional impact of chords, how voicings change the whole feel of a song, how to write music that is on the same oage with the content of the lyric.

Most of us wing it, and do what sounds natural, and I think I have learned alot just doing that, but you never see a "songwriters on Songwriting" series which talks about their chord choices and melodies. Nothing but the lyrical ideas.


#1038774 - 02/07/14 07:44 PM Re: Why no study materials for music writing? [Re: Bugsey]  
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Agreed. I can guess the reason is because it is very difficult to communicate melodic and compositional ideas in writing...but it's still only a guess.

It certainly translates to critiques too...we'll hear mainly about lyrics and subject matter on the MP3 board, a little about the production and performance, a little about arrangement, but rarely a peep about composition other than a thumbs up or thumbs down.

#1038778 - 02/07/14 08:11 PM Re: Why no study materials for music writing? [Re: Mark Kaufman]  
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On Songwriting forums most people are lyric writers, I think anyway.
Maybe a few dabble on guitar a little bit but nothing in depth.

I agree, the most comments you get on music is "the chorus seems too similar to the verse" Occasionally "the music doesnt sound right for that lyric"

Otherwise if it's good, it's simply "wonderful music"

For that matter when songwriters are interviewed, they always talk about how a song came to be, telling the story of how the story came about, but never how they turned it into music.

It's not as mysterious as anything else, lyrics are just as mysterious but you could study your whole life with various techniques.


Last edited by Bugsey; 02/07/14 08:12 PM.
#1038782 - 02/07/14 09:39 PM Re: Why no study materials for music writing? [Re: Bugsey]  
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To some extent I would agree with Mark above about the difficulty to put it in writing but in this day and age, why not in a video? I would think there is a pretty good size market out there for someone who does this really well to put something together. Maybe there is a class out there, does anyone know of anything?
Skip

#1038783 - 02/07/14 09:46 PM Re: Why no study materials for music writing? [Re: swestern]  
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I think mostly schools, have classes in it, which are probably a bit more hands on. Songwriting majors probably learn this all the time.

But it made me think of possibly why. Words can go on forever, you can read an entire book in a few days or one night, and come away with a few things you find remarkable.

A video would go into great detail, but for only one basic idea at a time, you;d probably need dozens of them.

But thats a good idea, and there might actually be CLASSES ON DVD for sale somewhere. A whole class would be the way to go as opposed to learning how somebody chorded a top 40 hit, which you cant then use again lol

#1038786 - 02/07/14 09:55 PM Re: Why no study materials for music writing? [Re: Bugsey]  
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A reputable book/course on music theory and harmony is a good place to start Bugsey.

Best, John smile

#1038800 - 02/07/14 10:51 PM Re: Why no study materials for music writing? [Re: John Lawrence Schick]  
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For my niece or nephew yeah, for me, i find it way too rudimentary.

Im not starting, Im finishing LOLLLLL

Just always looking to get better, I enjoy learning as much as I can

#1038805 - 02/07/14 11:32 PM Re: Why no study materials for music writing? [Re: Bugsey]  
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Originally Posted by Bugsey
For my niece or nephew yeah, for me, i find it way too rudimentary.

Im not starting, Im finishing LOLLLLL

Just always looking to get better, I enjoy learning as much as I can


Hmm… maybe Alfred’s theory & harmony is rudimentary, but not Arnold Schoenberg’s. Or study the works of Ravel, Bartok, Gershwin, etc. There are many great theory books that go far beyond the rudimentary level. Wish I could remember some I used.

Eventually all the theory and harmony should be placed in an inactive part of the brain – only to influence, not to over-ride the emotions. These days I compose from the heart while trying to keep the music intelligible, i.e., employing some kind of rational form.

I must admit, most of what I am as a composer came from studying the works of all the Greats. And studying with Paul Schocker and Dr. Sherman Storr (had to include my mentors).

Hope this didn’t come off as condescending …

Best, John smile

#1038809 - 02/07/14 11:55 PM Re: Why no study materials for music writing? [Re: John Lawrence Schick]  
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Originally Posted by John Lawrence Schick
Originally Posted by Bugsey
For my niece or nephew yeah, for me, i find it way too rudimentary.

Im not starting, Im finishing LOLLLLL

Just always looking to get better, I enjoy learning as much as I can


Hmm… maybe Alfred’s theory & harmony is rudimentary, but not Arnold Schoenberg’s. Or study the works of Ravel, Bartok, Gershwin, etc. There are many great theory books that go far beyond the rudimentary level. Wish I could remember some I used.

Eventually all the theory and harmony should be placed in an inactive part of the brain – only to influence, not to over-ride the emotions. These days I compose from the heart while trying to keep the music intelligible, i.e., employing some kind of rational form.

I must admit, most of what I am as a composer came from studying the works of all the Greats. And studying with Paul Schocker and Dr. Sherman Storr (had to include my mentors).

Hope this didn’t come off as condescending …

Best, John smile


No you didnt, i think you were answering from a composer point of view, I dont know anything about composing to be honest, and i dont claim to be one, but I do write songs.

gershwin was a composer, Tom petty is a songwriter
Billy Joel is kind of both all entwined

But what Im talking about deals with melody on top of words, and framing them for full impact etc. But Im sure those study things are all useful

#1038810 - 02/08/14 12:01 AM Re: Why no study materials for music writing? [Re: John Lawrence Schick]  
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Originally Posted by John Lawrence Schick

Eventually all the theory and harmony should be placed in an inactive part of the brain – only to influence, not to over-ride the emotions.


I know what you're saying John, and I can see where Bugsy is coming from.

I started learning music theory in school from violin lessons at age eight to high school band as a teenager. That's a long time for an adult to start studying music, especially if they already know how to play music. But that's the formal path. Sub (Mike Caro) recently started reading "Mel Bay" guitar books to learn theory and he is one of the most successful guitarists on this forum, so I guess it's never too late.

When you say that theory and harmony should be placed in an inactive part of the brain I take that as meaning that all of the things that you learned in the past will resurface eventually if the situation is right. That happens to me sometimes, but even though I knew how to read music notation at one time, there is no way that I can sight read again without hours and hours of practice.

#1038812 - 02/08/14 12:24 AM Re: Why no study materials for music writing? [Re: ben willis]  
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Well,
There is Juilliard and Belmont. Probably some others. Then there is the "Great Outdoors" of everything else. There may be plenty of local places where you can learn to play an instrument.

How did the old masters learn music theory? Probably trial and eer. Books can help you to write songs but in the long run it is mostly up to you if you succeed or not.


Ray E. Strode
#1038813 - 02/08/14 12:28 AM Re: Why no study materials for music writing? [Re: ben willis]  
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Originally Posted by ben willis
Originally Posted by John Lawrence Schick

Eventually all the theory and harmony should be placed in an inactive part of the brain – only to influence, not to over-ride the emotions.


I know what you're saying John, and I can see where Bugsy is coming from.

I started learning music theory in school from violin lessons at age eight to high school band as a teenager. That's a long time for an adult to start studying music, especially if they already know how to play music. But that's the formal path. Sub (Mike Caro) recently started reading "Mel Bay" guitar books to learn theory and he is one of the most successful guitarists on this forum, so I guess it's never too late.

When you say that theory and harmony should be placed in an inactive part of the brain I take that as meaning that all of the things that you learned in the past will resurface eventually if the situation is right. That happens to me sometimes, but even though I knew how to read music notation at one time, there is no way that I can sight read again without hours and hours of practice.


I think even lyric writing works that way. If you pulled out all your knowledge while doing it, youd never get any writing done.

It's like playing scales, you learn them but you forget them when playing your solos etc

#1038814 - 02/08/14 12:32 AM Re: Why no study materials for music writing? [Re: Ray E. Strode]  
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Originally Posted by Ray E. Strode
Well,
There is Juilliard and Belmont. Probably some others. Then there is the "Great Outdoors" of everything else. There may be plenty of local places where you can learn to play an instrument.

How did the old masters learn music theory? Probably trial and eer. Books can help you to write songs but in the long run it is mostly up to you if you succeed or not.


But my question was not really about music theory, music theory is about music. Knowing how to write "the right" melody for a particular lyrical idea, so that they both work together to make an impact, is not music theory, it's kind of language theory

For example, most of us know that a major chord means happy, minor means sad, but theres more to learn. The melody you choose can wipe out the lyric if not done right.

#1038815 - 02/08/14 12:34 AM Re: Why no study materials for music writing? [Re: ben willis]  
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"When you say that theory and harmony should be placed in an inactive part of the brain I take that as meaning that all of the things that you learned in the past will resurface eventually if the situation is right" Ben

What I meant was the knowledge of music theory guides/influences me subconsciously. I’m not consciously aware of the choices I make. But the end product confirms my origin of knowledge. If I had to consciously make choices based on music theory, I would never get off of first base.

"Gershwin was a composer, Tom petty is a songwriter
Billy Joel is kind of both all entwined" - Bugsey


George Gershwin intertwined both as well. Some of my favorite Gershwin songs: Embraceable You, Someone to Watch Over Me, Summertime, and The Man I Love.

John smile

#1038819 - 02/08/14 12:53 AM Re: Why no study materials for music writing? [Re: John Lawrence Schick]  
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"But my question was not really about music theory, music theory is about music. Knowing how to write "the right" melody for a particular lyrical idea, so that they both work together to make an impact, is not music theory, it's kind of language theory" - Bugsey

I disagree Bugsey. Melody is much a part of music theory. Melody and its relationship to chord structure, scales, counterpoint, etc.

"major chord means happy, minor means sad" - Bugsey That could be another discussion Bugsey.

John smile

#1038820 - 02/08/14 01:03 AM Re: Why no study materials for music writing? [Re: John Lawrence Schick]  
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Generally with major and minor

Yes melody alone with chords, as in composing.

But with a lyric, the dynamic changes.

The melody can change the meaning of the lyric. And a lyric added to a melody can change the character of the melody.


#1038821 - 02/08/14 01:18 AM Re: Why no study materials for music writing? [Re: Bugsey]  
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Look at this song, I think sting is playing with us in this one.

You cant tell if he is happy or sad, hence the title. Brilliant!

The bridge especially.

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=uAIK2oOwKdU

Last edited by Bugsey; 02/08/14 01:22 AM.
#1038922 - 02/09/14 12:47 AM Re: Why no study materials for music writing? [Re: Bugsey]  
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How hard can it be with only 7 letters in it's alphabet?

said very tongue in cheek.....

smile




http://www.soundclick.com/noeldownsandfriends

Tolerance means if you don't like something you ignore it
#1038938 - 02/09/14 03:35 AM Re: Why no study materials for music writing? [Re: Bugsey]  
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Originally Posted by Bugsey
Look at this song, I think sting is playing with us in this one.

You cant tell if he is happy or sad, hence the title. Brilliant!

The bridge especially.

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=uAIK2oOwKdU


The lyrics are sad, but the music isn't. Sometimes opposites work well between lyrics and melody.

Also of interest… different chord structures for identical melodies can change the mood of the melody. Some minor chords are only an inversion away from becoming major, e.g., first inversion of Cm7 can become Eb6. Bass notes can sway a chord one way or another.

Never did quite understand the “major chord equates to happy while the minor chord equates to sad” theory. Some tracks in the minor key are inspiring and uplifting, not sad or grave at all (and visa-versa).

John smile

#1038942 - 02/09/14 04:43 AM Re: Why no study materials for music writing? [Re: John Lawrence Schick]  
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I think it's mostly associations.

When we hear the twilight zone theme music, we think strange, eeire.

You would know this more than anyone with the pieces you write.

We hear a siren we think police, or fireman. We see the flashing police lights we think, speeding ticket!

When we hear a sound that is familiar, we have the same reaction.

Maybe minor keys were used that way first, and now are just reminders.

I came across this: http://www.exploratorium.edu/music/questions/sadMusic.html

Last edited by Bugsey; 02/09/14 04:45 AM.
#1038943 - 02/09/14 04:46 AM Re: Why no study materials for music writing? [Re: Bugsey]  
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#1038944 - 02/09/14 04:51 AM Re: Why no study materials for music writing? [Re: Bugsey]  
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This song always blows me away. Might not be Billy's most famous of the lot but It amazes me how he wrote this.

You got your theme, running on ice, now you have to create a rhythm
and damn if the rhythm dont sound like a guy running literally on ice! and those drum rim shots, sound like hockey sticks on the ice, it really amazes me, and then to make it a pop song.

Ya, im a fan. Enjoy > http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=IVihX4jjLDI

#1038946 - 02/09/14 05:22 AM Re: Why no study materials for music writing? [Re: Bugsey]  
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Hey just thought of something.

I was playing my gitar, and as most always I bend a note.

Bending the flatted third of the chord makes for a blues sound,
ie. in key of G, bending a b flat up to a B, is the basis of blues.

A minor chord is basicly that flatted note in a chord, just not bending. Maybe it has it's origins in blues?

As far as Major Chords, I have heard plenty of examples of sad songs with major chords, rock n roll does it all the time.

#1038961 - 02/09/14 11:46 AM Re: Why no study materials for music writing? [Re: Bugsey]  
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Colin

I try to critique as if you mean business.....

http://colinwardmusic.com/

http://rosewoodcreekband.com/


#1038962 - 02/09/14 01:11 PM Re: Why no study materials for music writing? [Re: Colin Ward]  
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Bugsey, another good one from Rikky Rooksby is 'Melody: How to Write Great Tunes'.

Maybe check out John Perricone's 'Melody in Songwriting' as well.

Donna


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Life is too important to take seriously.

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#1038967 - 02/09/14 02:28 PM Re: Why no study materials for music writing? [Re: DonnaMarilyn]  
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Thanks all for the suggestions. Im an avid reader, if those books were on the shelves or in libraries, back when people actually read them, I probably read it.

I've read probably 5 or 6 books cover to cover on lyric writing.
Sheila Davis Craft of lyric writing is the best, although ver outdated. John Brahenys craft and business of songwriting was good too, not alot on melody though.

Pat Pattison and Andrea Stolpes books as well.

I will look for those titles, i have found most stuff I have seen written is on pop songwriting, and kind of "this is what so and so did, on so and so hit song" and you basicly then... know the chords to a few hit songs lol




#1038980 - 02/09/14 03:45 PM Re: Why no study materials for music writing? [Re: Bugsey]  
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Jack Perricone, a Professor and the guy who started the songwriting major at Berklee was a JPF mentor for a time and is a good place to start Bugsey. I imagine he's got stuff out I haven't seen, but if he's done anything recently, it may be what you're looking for.

But in my opinion, when it comes to writing a compelling melody to go with your interesting lyrics, you either have it or you don't. I think the best tactic is to write write write and then write more. Keep going until people respond positively in a big way (like, for example, being willing to buy it from you, or for others to want to do business with you via placements, publishing, recording it themselves etc. At best, a book may help a light bulb light up helping you mentally see the way to solving a problem you have in your approach. I doubt it can hold your hand to a hit song.

Brian


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#1038984 - 02/09/14 03:55 PM Re: Why no study materials for music writing? [Re: Brian Austin Whitney]  
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Well that's true. Same could be said for books on lyric writing, if you dont have it, it wont help you.

If you take guitar lessons and dont have it, you wont learn much or get very good. Vocal lessons wont help a tone deaf singer. If you're not smart, you may never learn advanced calculus!

But I think even the best songwriters, as gifted as they are learned from somewhere. You might pick it up faster, and be able to make your own faster and better than the next guy, but you still need to learn alot.


#1038996 - 02/09/14 06:49 PM Re: Why no study materials for music writing? [Re: Bugsey]  
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Well, if you can talk you know how to use pitch and rhythm, so everyone really has got it, many without realizing it, though.

But there are study materials for music writing. Jimmy Kachulis (Faculty of Berklee) has two great books, one on melody writing, and one on harmony (both with cd's). http://jimmykachulis.com/author_books.htm Both of these are excellent, and I use them all the time as references.

Also Jai Josefs has a great book and a CD series focusing on the music of songwriting http://www.jaijomusic.com/ I've learned tons from his CD's and his book was the first one I ever read.

Also Robin Frederick, who is a head screener at Taxi and has worked on many Disney productions, has books out on songwriting that focus on the music, and not just on the lyrics http://robinfrederick.com/ Those are the most updated resources on songwriting on the mrkt today, imo.

And online you can find a bunch of courses with video ect http://www.music-courses.com/ as just one example of many. You can also take free classes on various subjects related to songwriting and music on coursera https://www.coursera.org/courses?search=music Full free classes from Berklee and many others are available. I haven't tried any of those, though. So much to do and so little time.

There are also great music teachers that offers free instruction and put out weekly music blogs online. One of my favourites for guitar is David Walliman http://davidwallimann.com/ he also puts out lots of great videos on youtube. I watch those all the time, and find them very helpful. I'm into studying modes at the moment, and David has been the only one who could explain that in a way I was able to get.

So, it's not really true there aren't any. The resources are there to use, but the Internet clutter can make it hard to find, though.

Hope that helps.


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#1039007 - 02/09/14 08:08 PM Re: Why no study materials for music writing? [Re: Kolstad]  
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Maybe the best way to strengthen your composing chops is to dive back into the past and rethink what it is you like about modern-day compositions and how they arrived there by learning from the foundations created by the original grandmasters of musical composition.

Coursera is a website with thousands of online college courses, some from prestigious universities like Princeton, for free.

One course I noticed was from the National University of Singapore, called "Write Like Mozart: An Introduction to Classical Music Composition." I think this might be a great way to take an unexpected journey to exactly where you're hoping to go...just in a roundabout way.

#1039011 - 02/09/14 08:46 PM Re: Why no study materials for music writing? [Re: Mark Kaufman]  
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Courses sound like fun, ill have to look into more.

But check out this quote

"as was the case with Nebraska and Tom Joad, and the songs that followed, the music was minimal, yet it played
an important role in the story telling process. The plainess and the austere rhythms defined who those characters were,
and how they expressed themselves. The precision in the storytelling is very important. The correct detail
can speak volumes about where your character is, while the wrong one can shred the credibility of your story.

When you get the music and words right in these songs, your voice disappears into the people you have chosen to write about"

The Boss

if he can teach so much in that one paragraph, it must be learnable, he's not just doing it, he's telling you HOW and WHY he did it.

That's what im interested in learning more about.

#1039017 - 02/09/14 09:58 PM Re: Why no study materials for music writing? [Re: Bugsey]  
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Well, I believe there are things that can't be taught. They can only be learned.


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#1039023 - 02/09/14 11:30 PM Re: Why no study materials for music writing? [Re: Kolstad]  
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Where did you learn that?

LOL. Yeah most things are not taught, a teacher gets paid to help you learn it for yourself. You learn by doing, you get guidance from a teacher.

That's why I started this thread, I cant teach this, I can only hope you learn it.

#1039028 - 02/09/14 11:43 PM Re: Why no study materials for music writing? [Re: Bugsey]  
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Hey, back to the earlier point about minor and major keys.
I got PROOF!

Listen this this REM classic Losing my religion, first as the original, then altered digitally to a major progression, notice how the melody, the feeling, and the overall vibe changes, when changed to a major key song. Much better the original way. the song still dont make alot of sense, but it made good sense to make it minor lol

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=if-UzXIQ5vw
http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=y6KmiIq2-m8#t=60

#1039031 - 02/10/14 12:22 AM Re: Why no study materials for music writing? [Re: Bugsey]  
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More proof. Now were making a happy song sad.

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=8dcfpH8oJoM

#1039032 - 02/10/14 12:23 AM Re: Why no study materials for music writing? [Re: Bugsey]  
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#1039033 - 02/10/14 12:24 AM Re: Why no study materials for music writing? [Re: Bugsey]  
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Seems im not the only one who has given this thought lol

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=e_dNKrql06w

#1039048 - 02/10/14 07:23 AM Re: Why no study materials for music writing? [Re: Bugsey]  
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yea bugsey, I don't want this topic to end, cause I'm both a theacher and an eager student for music theory.
You hit the point when you say too few books on music if compared to the lyrics one, and I think you gave the answer also in your considerations: people think somehow that they're unnecessary, and - on the other way, there's no easy way to reduce the complexity of a formal music theory that is necessary to understand the issues in songwriting. The same I found some good teachers on the web that helped break the ice: pat pattison has a good free course at coursera (songwriting - mostly about marrying words and music), and gary ewer has in the essential secrets of songwriting summed up some useful consideration about harmony without being too formal. If I remember other things I come back! In the meanwhile I check all your suggestions ;-)

#1039049 - 02/10/14 07:42 AM Re: Why no study materials for music writing? [Re: MaxG]  
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hey Mark, I'm attending that course too (write like mozart ... ) - I hope I will survive the final exam LOL but that's a very fine course !

#1039063 - 02/10/14 02:42 PM Re: Why no study materials for music writing? [Re: MaxG]  
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Originally Posted by MaxG
hey Mark, I'm attending that course too (write like mozart ... ) - I hope I will survive the final exam LOL but that's a very fine course !


Awesome! I might have to try it myself--there's always so much to learn from music theory, and even after you learn it, it still pays off to revisit it.

#1039068 - 02/10/14 02:58 PM Re: Why no study materials for music writing? [Re: Mark Kaufman]  
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Never a waste of time practicing writing like the Masters. Mozart for scales & chords, Bach for counterpoint, Rachmaninoff for extended chords, Gershwin for jazz modulations, etc... Though the ultimate goal is finding a niche of your own.

John smile


#1039121 - 02/10/14 07:51 PM Re: Why no study materials for music writing? [Re: John Lawrence Schick]  
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Music exists in time. That's what makes it hard to teach from a printed word. Play a song faster or slower and the response changes. Even emotional responses to different modes (major and natural minor are just two of them) are tempered by tempo and note duration.

Basically, as Bugsey says, minor is sad and major is happy. There are also other modes that convey different feelings, myxolidian gives a circular feeling of moving to two home centers, that's the "Werewolves of London, Sweet Home Alabama" mode. Chromatic moves can give a "scattered, capricious" feeling as in "Flight of the Bumblebee" or much bebop.

Here's a song in the harmonic and melodic minor scales: http://youtu.be/VpmOTGungnA It doesn't sound sad to me, but playful. That's due to the tempo, the swing and the note lengths.

Here's a simple stripped down version of Going Home and Amazing Grace that projects sadness, melancholy in a major key.
http://youtu.be/6hKXlaZobLc

Then this treatment of Amazing Grace has hope and joy: http://youtu.be/HsCp5LG_zNE

So, basically, with so many variables so much subjectivity and great difficulty to express in print it's nowhere near as easy to teach, that's one of the main reasons there are fewer study materials.


You've got to know your limitations. I don't know what your limitations are. I found out what mine were when I was twelve. I found out that there weren't too many limitations, if I did it my way. -Johnny Cash

It's only music.
-niteshift

Mike Dunbar Music

#1039135 - 02/10/14 09:17 PM Re: Why no study materials for music writing? [Re: Kolstad]  
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I want Mike to teach a course! I'd enroll in a heartbeat. smile

Originally Posted by the songcabinet
Well, I believe there are things that can't be taught. They can only be learned.


Sometimes I feel this way, but I've met too many great teachers to really agree. But maybe that means I agree with you...? Because great teachers facilitate learning, and no lesson has been taught if it was not learned.

In the case of composition, I think having a teacher is the ideal setting...it's something that demands demonstration and participation. A book might do the trick, but it would be a lot more difficult. A music theory class needs sound for the lessons to really make sense. It's important to hear the difference between notes, and the different sounds produced by a minor 2nd interval (on a keyboard, play simultaneously any two notes that sit right next to each other, like C and C#--that's a minor 2nd interval) and a major 2nd interval (move one finger over to the next key, so that there are two notes with only one in between them, like C and D--that's a major 2nd interval). Writing that is confusing...SHOWING it and PLAYING it is very direct and much easier to understand and to hear.

I learned a lot about composition from a high school music theory class. The songs I wrote after learning some theory improved immensely. And it wasn't because I was suddenly adopting a "proper way" to approach music...it wasn't a matter of "learning the rules"...it's that I had a better understanding of sounds themselves, and why they sound the way they do. I understood better how to create any sound I wanted to make.

I guess I'm suggesting that anyone who is interested in learning more about music rather than lyrics would be best rewarded by finding a real live teacher...a course, a tutor, a mentor. It makes a world of difference.

#1039141 - 02/10/14 09:50 PM Re: Why no study materials for music writing? [Re: Mark Kaufman]  
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Bugsey Offline
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I remember music theory class in HS. LOL

As a junior I went unnoticed, when I became a senior the teacher started throwing the ball in my court, she was actually hoping I would lead the class, instead of most kids thinking of it as a lunch break! Didnt work.

I remember interval training, where we'd listen to these God awful (records) yes it's true records, of intervals, they sounded alot like a hearing test.

Always funny how kids claimed to have perfect pitch, when in reality so few do.

Also will never forget my friend, who was s self taught drummer, took the class too. Teacher asks him to say the names of the notes of a C scale, C, D, E you finish, shes says. He says F, G, H!

HHHHHHH he said lol, we laughed for a week.

Those were the days

Last edited by Bugsey; 02/10/14 09:51 PM.
#1039167 - 02/11/14 05:29 AM Re: Why no study materials for music writing? [Re: Mike Dunbar]  
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Bugsey Offline
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Originally Posted by Mike Dunbar
Music exists in time. That's what makes it hard to teach from a printed word. Play a song faster or slower and the response changes. Even emotional responses to different modes (major and natural minor are just two of them) are tempered by tempo and note duration.

Basically, as Bugsey says, minor is sad and major is happy. There are also other modes that convey different feelings, myxolidian gives a circular feeling of moving to two home centers, that's the "Werewolves of London, Sweet Home Alabama" mode. Chromatic moves can give a "scattered, capricious" feeling as in "Flight of the Bumblebee" or much bebop.

Here's a song in the harmonic and melodic minor scales: http://youtu.be/VpmOTGungnA It doesn't sound sad to me, but playful. That's due to the tempo, the swing and the note lengths.

Here's a simple stripped down version of Going Home and Amazing Grace that projects sadness, melancholy in a major key.
http://youtu.be/6hKXlaZobLc

Then this treatment of Amazing Grace has hope and joy: http://youtu.be/HsCp5LG_zNE

So, basically, with so many variables so much subjectivity and great difficulty to express in print it's nowhere near as easy to teach, that's one of the main reasons there are fewer study materials.


Good post Mike. I listened to the Django song. It doesnt sound sad per say, but to me, it does sound kind of unresolved and off kilter, even though it's a fun groove.

Actually it sounds like something you might hear in a murder-comedy movie or something. Silent film maybe.

#1040312 - 02/22/14 12:36 PM Re: Why no study materials for music writing? [Re: Kolstad]  
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Originally Posted by the songcabinet
Well, I believe there are things that can't be taught. They can only be learned.

What a great paradigm!

#1040326 - 02/22/14 03:58 PM Re: Why no study materials for music writing? [Re: Bugsey]  
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Originally Posted by Bugsey
Why is it that there are boatloads of books on lyric writing, but so little on melody writing and music writing?


Maybe due to the idea that the ones with those great instincts to do all you say don't have creative time or will to make something "technical" out of it all. And, maybe the great ones in that aspect that also know and do all the technically aware things are simply too busy to write such an involved book. They rather work at their craft? (Having more commissioned work to do)?

Just a thought for possible reasons.


Actually a Member Since 1996 or 97 (Number One Hundred Something).
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#1040833 - 02/27/14 01:43 AM Re: Why no study materials for music writing? [Re: Johnny Daubert]  
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Bugsey Offline
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Originally Posted by Johnny Daubert
Originally Posted by Bugsey
Why is it that there are boatloads of books on lyric writing, but so little on melody writing and music writing?


Maybe due to the idea that the ones with those great instincts to do all you say don't have creative time or will to make something "technical" out of it all. And, maybe the great ones in that aspect that also know and do all the technically aware things are simply too busy to write such an involved book. They rather work at their craft? (Having more commissioned work to do)?

Just a thought for possible reasons.


Maybe, but there is always people who cant make a dime in the music business, and so they write books instead. That's basicly every author who ever wrote a book on songwriting!

#1041654 - 03/07/14 10:21 AM Re: Why no study materials for music writing? [Re: Bugsey]  
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I learned how to write songs by learning a lot of songs that I liked. After a while, it started to sink in on how it's done.
I never studied any books on songwriting.



Pat Hardy Lockwood

#1041675 - 03/07/14 02:27 PM Re: Why no study materials for music writing? [Re: Pat Hardy]  
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I'm with pat, though I never learned a lot of covers, I absorbed from artists I love.

#1041681 - 03/07/14 02:50 PM Re: Why no study materials for music writing? [Re: Pat Hardy]  
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Originally Posted by pathardy
I learned how to write songs by learning a lot of songs that I liked. After a while, it started to sink in on how it's done.
I never studied any books on songwriting.



Pat Hardy Lockwood


Well, I think that is what everybody does. Advice I give to anyone who asks is to listen, listen, listen. Really important for a musician to listen, as well as a songwriter.

Learning covers is important, but when all is said and done, we still haven't learned everything. Im pretty sure you could learn something newabout songwriting in the next half hour, if determined. Some new process, some new way to chord a melody, some new way to put it to rythm, and understand that why you are doing it, is making it better. Knowing, not guessing.

Last edited by Bugsey; 03/07/14 02:52 PM.
#1041682 - 03/07/14 02:54 PM Re: Why no study materials for music writing? [Re: maccharles]  
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Yup.

#1045703 - 04/19/14 01:53 AM Re: Why no study materials for music writing? [Re: Bugsey]  
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For me if the music comes first (or at least some of it comes out initially after which I add words in bits and pieces as I go) then the song sounds better at the end. At least from a compositional point of view.

Even music by itself can be made to move people, so it is more universal. The lyrics of a song written in Swedish, for example, may not have much impact on someone from the U.S., yet the music might still influence that person. Without any music, and presented as just a Swedish poem, for example, it simply would not be the same for that listener. To oversimplify, it's the music that turns the words into a song.


Best Regards and Aloha,

Charlie
#1125680 - 03/21/17 09:33 PM Re: Why no study materials for music writing? [Re: Bugsey]  
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I would like to see more discussions on this subject.
Because there are hardly any books on creating melodys and when you do come across something it is very vague to say the least.
I mean if you search the internet forums or how Joe blogs a top songwriter writes his songs there info is no more helpfull than what's already been said on this thread.
I mean wouldn't it be good to just type into Google how to create a melody, and 3 seconds later the results appear, you click on one. Then wham bam thank you mam that'll do nicely. I can now write melodys.
It's not rocket science.

#1125684 - 03/22/17 09:59 AM Re: Why no study materials for music writing? [Re: Bugsey]  
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What a great topic..... lol Well, it seems it's pretty much the same now. Before the Internet, the Barnes and Nobles and Waldens were thriving, and selling lots of books. Since lyrics are words on paper, reading books about words in paper is not far removed. Reading about music doesn't mean anything until it's heard.

I think it's also an easier point of entry being a lyricist, as opposed to being a musician. You don't need to know a thing about music to start writing words, and everybody already writes words every day. You also don't even need much poetic ability to write singable lyrics, That doesn't mean everybody will be good at lyric writing, it just means yiou have a better chance of looking competent if you can read in a book how to structure a song.

If you can learn how to have a verse, a chorus, and a bridge, and rhyme each word at the end, you can have a musician turn it into a song. And glaring errors in lyrics are easily fixed, just by learning what makes them not work. Ie. You start a verse with first person, I, so the song is about you, next two lines you are saying He, according to texts, you don't switch pronouns in a song, suppose to be confusing... But I mean, that kind of stuff is not a deal breaker

Music requires years of study to get halfway decent. And it probably needs to be shown or demonstrated, more than read. But it would be nice to be able to find materials explaining why certain melodies and chords progressions work.

These guys seem to demonstrate that certain chord progressions are so successful. They don't explain why they are successful though, which you need to know if you want to try to find your own formula, but they do show how artists study other artists music, to learn from https://m.youtube.com/watch?v=5pidokakU4I

Last edited by Trentb; 03/22/17 10:06 AM.
#1125685 - 03/22/17 10:26 AM Re: Why no study materials for music writing? [Re: Bugsey]  
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Well,
There are music colleges you can enroll in Belmont in Nashville is one. Not sure of one in maybe Boston, Julliard maybe. You can buy an instrument and take lessons or buy an instruction book and practice on your own. but you have to be dedicated to do it. Work I know but that is the only way to do it.


Ray E. Strode
#1125686 - 03/22/17 11:57 AM Re: Why no study materials for music writing? [Re: Bugsey]  
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There's a plethora of educational material on any subject available on a wide range of websites, in books, organizations, individual teachers/experts, schools of various types and the easiest of all, asking a question right here. We don't always have the answer, but we can usually point you to the right place.

So what do you need to know?

PS: To those who know who you are, no need to compliment your own topic just because you have another screen name now. Just keep it positive and everyone will be happy.

Brian


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"Don't sit around and wait for success to come to you... it doesn't know the way." -Brian Austin Whitney


#1125703 - 03/22/17 08:27 PM Re: Why no study materials for music writing? [Re: Bugsey]  
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Ray E. Strode Online content
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Uh, well,
Trentb, or Bugsey, or Aaron Arthor or whatever your name is today,
Trying to explain why certain chords and progressions work is like trying to explain which came first, The Chicken or the Egg, Why the sky is blue, why grass is green, why some want everything delivered to them on a Silver Platter. To be successful it takes dedication, of which some don't have. Sorry.


Ray E. Strode
#1125704 - 03/22/17 08:52 PM Re: Why no study materials for music writing? [Re: Ray E. Strode]  
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Originally Posted by Ray E. Strode
Uh, well, Trentb, or Bugsey, or Aaron Arthor or whatever your name is today, Trying to explain why certain chords and progressions work is like trying to explain which came first, The Chicken or the Egg, Why the sky is blue, why grass is green, why some want everything delivered to them on a Silver Platter. To be successful it takes dedication, of which some don't have. Sorry.
That's pretty funny ray. I was posing the question for a reason, to stimulate thought amongst songwriters, maybe you dont get it cause you don't write songs? You couldn't be more off buddy. Where is your dedication? Why haven't you broken out? Nobody dedicated ever could learn a a bit more?

Lol hilarity. I'm not asking you how to write songs, Ray, I already know how, as I said, you dont even get what was said here. And you couldn't be more wrong, chord progressions are studied in a scientific way, by many. if you can learn why the brain locks into to certain chord progressions, you can have better chance at writing a song that hooks people. Once somebody figures one out, everybody copies it

And this thread was not just about chord progressions. With your knowledge and skill I should be seeing you in the charts soon hey?

Last edited by Trentb; 03/22/17 08:56 PM.
#1125709 - 03/23/17 05:40 AM Re: Why no study materials for music writing? [Re: Bugsey]  
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I agree with a lot that's been said but the thing is there are still more people who would like to learn how to write melodys than those who already know.
But there is just nothing out there for those who want to learn.
How many lyricists are there that can't create a melody ?
And if you search the internet all you get is vagueness such as write more songs.
Put a song in your daw and play it backwards.
Record everything etc.

When you search the web on melody creation you get a lot of Paul Simon quotes like put all your ideas in a diary. How is that gonna help anyone create a melody.

#1125711 - 03/23/17 06:24 AM Re: Why no study materials for music writing? [Re: Bugsey]  
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Aw, Humm,
We live in the information age, Uh, now the age of Aquarius, don't try to figure it out, your Computer is a good example. You can find out most anything you want by typing it into Google and get a lot of results almost instantly. But you now have to look at what you found and put in the time to sort out the thing you are looking for. I once read a long time ago that musical notes vibrate to the tune of the Universe. Try Googling that. Me, I follow Red Skeleton, I don't explain em, I just do em. And, you can listen to some of my songs. Just look for New Web Site on the Industry Board, and follow the directions. And I don't think Beethoven had any study materials to go by when he wrote the 9Th Symphony. Catch on yet?


Ray E. Strode
#1125714 - 03/23/17 06:58 AM Re: Why no study materials for music writing? [Re: Ray E. Strode]  
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Mm308 Offline
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Originally Posted by Ray E. Strode
Aw, Humm,
We live in the information age, Uh, now the age of Aquarius, don't try to figure it out, your Computer is a good example. You can find out most anything you want by typing it into Google and get a lot of results almost instantly. But you now have to look at what you found and put in the time to sort out the thing you are looking for. I once read a long time ago that musical notes vibrate to the tune of the Universe. Try Googling that. Me, I follow Red Skeleton, I don't explain em, I just do em. And, you can listen to some of my songs. Just look for New Web Site on the Industry Board, and follow the directions. And I don't think Beethoven had any study materials to go by when he wrote the 9Th Symphony. Catch on yet?


OK

I think your the one who who we need to be sending everyone to when this question pops up again.
You must know where all this info is on Google.
So where is it

#1125720 - 03/23/17 09:53 AM Re: Why no study materials for music writing? [Re: Bugsey]  
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Um, Well, Bugsey,
Some things you have to do yourself. Keep at it. You will get it eventually. You would be surprised of how many people go to College and get a Degree. and then go out in the world and get an education. So where are you?


Ray E. Strode
#1125721 - 03/23/17 10:45 AM Re: Why no study materials for music writing? [Re: Mm308]  
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I believe that Melody Writing is with you when you are born.
It can be improved but writing good melodies is an Art and you just can't teach it.
You are a Weaver of Notes....There are only 7 notes to work with to weave a tune out a block of sound. It's like creating a masterpiece out of a piece of clay or stone....

#1125730 - 03/23/17 01:16 PM Re: Why no study materials for music writing? [Re: Barry David Butler]  
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Originally Posted by Barry David Butler
I believe that Melody Writing is with you when you are born.
It can be improved but writing good melodies is an Art and you just can't teach it.
You are a Weaver of Notes....There are only 7 notes to work with to weave a tune out a block of sound. It's like creating a masterpiece out of a piece of clay or stone....


I agree that composing music has to do with passions/ feelings imbedded inside us (maybe from birth) or gained through life experiences (both good & bad experiences). Anyone can be taught to compose, but one would be much like a dog learning tricks, if not passionately inspired. I always respond to such questions; “music should be composed from the heart” (it’s an audio, emotional art form). Music goes where words can’t. The music student can be taught music theory, like the seven closest related chords and proper melody notes to use, but can’t be taught passion and originality. That has to come from inside one’s heart.

BTW Barry there’s 12 half-tones and their octaves on the composer's palette.

#1125880 - 03/28/17 08:50 AM Re: Why no study materials for music writing? [Re: Charlie Wong]  
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Originally Posted by Charlie Wong
For me if the music comes first (or at least some of it comes out initially after which I add words in bits and pieces as I go) then the song sounds better at the end. At least from a compositional point of view.

Even music by itself can be made to move people, so it is more universal. The lyrics of a song written in Swedish, for example, may not have much impact on someone from the U.S., yet the music might still influence that person. Without any music, and presented as just a Swedish poem, for example, it simply would not be the same for that listener. To oversimplify, it's the music that turns the words into a song.



Me too.

I'm one of those that sits with the guitar and plays with chord patterns until the mood of the chords suggests an emotion and then I let the lyrics construct themselves around the emotion. For me, that approach seems to yield a more seamless and integrated result between words and music.

I recognise that there are people in the world who are so talented that they can come at a song from any direction and make it work well. There are people who could start with the lyrics in an outro and work backwards....and end up with a great song. I'm just not one of them.

If I was chasing after "hits," I would probably write choruses first concentrating on getting the hook and the music working well and then adding the verses after the chorus was complete. That actually sounds like a fun way to songwrite. One of these days, I'm gonna give it a go.

Martin



#1126009 - 03/30/17 01:21 AM Re: Why no study materials for music writing? [Re: Bugsey]  
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Excellent responses by Mike Dunbar, Mark Kaufmann, John Schick, Martin Lide

To those saying you can't learn it, that it's inborn, the same could be said about lyrics. Many lyricists think you can't learn, yet their are dozens and dozens of books on th shelves abiut commercial lyric writing, none about commercial music writing.

= reason for the thread.

Here's my take: we all started with a first song, chances are it was bad. It took me about 6 months before I could write a song that even sounded like a song. I wrote these choppy songs that had no flow, no purpose, no sense of direction, and it took a long time to be able to write different sections of songs that didn't all sound the same

If you haven't gotten better since your first song, ok, fair enough, you stink, God bless you, try something else.

If you have improved even a little, how did it happen? You improved by doing it, and learning from yourself, or listening and emulating your favorite artists, or if you happened to take classes, or seminars or read some bits, it's all good. It's still learning, nobody is born a great songwriter, they are born with tendencies and talent, but if you never tap it, it's useless.

How could you begin to write a lyric, if you hadn't learned English, and how to write in school? You wouldn't be able to do it, so you can thank your schooling for being able to write anything, let alone a lyric.

Nobody said that talent wasn't the most important thing, of course it is. But even the small improvements you might have made came from somewhere. Not by magic, but by working at it.

Some people learn three chords on the guitar, and stop there. Then ten years later, they say, I've been playing guitar for ten years. No you have been playing three chords for ten years. If you don't go past that, you won't improve, you can't. It's like the fly in a jar, he keeps banging off the glass hundreds of times, he doesn't try anything else, he doesn't know any other way. He'll get the same results.

I have seen some people who over years and years of posting songs, never get any better, one reason is lack of talent, the other is not trying to learn anything

Ray mentioned Beethoven in a derisive way.  what Ray doesn't realize is that Beethoven traveled to Vienna to study under Hayden, and he met Motzart, and Mozart let him be his student too. This is one of the greatest composers of all time, going to study under somebody else.

If Beethoven thinks he can improve, stands to reason most of us can

Since most of us can't fly to be with our favorite artists, and they wouldn't be willing to teach us anything, it's natural to look for ways to learn on your own

It's not a sign of incompetence trying to improve. The greats are doing it right at this moment.

Last edited by terranceg; 03/30/17 01:27 AM.
#1126010 - 03/30/17 01:25 AM Re: Why no study materials for music writing? [Re: Bugsey]  
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There are scattered bits online, but you kind of have to go through things to know what they even say.

This was pretty good by John Mayer

https://m.youtube.com/watch?v=VNu0M2A2KMk

#1126013 - 03/30/17 06:37 AM Re: Why no study materials for music writing? [Re: Bugsey]  
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"Ray mentioned Beethoven in a derisive way. what Ray doesn't realize is that Beethoven traveled to Vienna to study under Hayden, and he met Mozart, and Mozart let him be his student too. This is one of the greatest composers of all time, going to study under somebody else

Though one has to be careful to learn and not emulate. It’s easy to hear Mozart’s influence on Beethoven’s early music. George Gershwin wanted to study with Ravel. Ravel turned him down. Told him: "Why become a second-rate Ravel when you're already a first-rate Gershwin?”. Probably the best advice to give young aspiring composers is to be yourself. We don’t need another Beethoven, Gershwin, or Billy Joel.

John smile

#1126017 - 03/30/17 07:29 AM Re: Why no study materials for music writing? [Re: Bugsey]  
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Wise words John. God gives us the talents we have, it is up to us to develop them our way, not copy others, but that being said, we don't have to reinvent the wheel either. laugh

#1126054 - 03/31/17 01:02 PM Re: Why no study materials for music writing? [Re: Bugsey]  
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Anatomy of Melody: Exploring the Single Line of Song
-Alice Parker

The book uses examples to teach melody. You can get it on Amazon, and there may be excerpts on the internet as well.

Also, learning some music theory is very helpful. There are tons of music theory textbooks. Here is a link to a list of 10 of them: http://oneminutemusiclesson.com/2014/02/13/top-10-music-theory-books/

Peace,
TC

Last edited by TC Perkins; 03/31/17 01:10 PM.

If it has strings I will find a way to play it!

You can hear my tunes at https://soundcloud.com/tc-gypsy
#1126059 - 03/31/17 05:26 PM Re: Why no study materials for music writing? [Re: Bugsey]  
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To learn new tricks and ways to improve our songwriting skills is all that we should be striving to achieve.
Ask yourselves this question
How many hits have you had, if the answer is zero.
Are you really at the top of your game in a way to suggest that you already know everthing about songwriting.
And the quest for knowledge is only for beginners.

#1126063 - 03/31/17 05:45 PM Re: Why no study materials for music writing? [Re: Mm308]  
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Originally Posted by Mm308
To learn new tricks and ways to improve our songwriting skills is all that we should be striving to achieve.
Ask yourselves this question
How many hits have you had, if the answer is zero.
Are you really at the top of your game in a way to suggest that you already know everthing about songwriting.
And the quest for knowledge is only for beginners.


Though the word "hit" is ambiguous. Not having a “hit” doesn’t mean it’s not “hit” material. Having a “hit” has as much or more to do with promotion than talent as a songwriter. If you or I wrote “Yesterday” back in the 1960’s, chances are it would have never been heard, except by our close friends. The promotion of the Beatles brought this song to the mainstream, thus becoming a “hit”. I’m sure there are thousands of songs from unknowns that could become hits under the right promotional conditions.

John smile

#1126068 - 03/31/17 06:45 PM Re: Why no study materials for music writing? [Re: John Lawrence Schick]  
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If youve got hit material it will rise to the top.
Have you got any songs like yesterday imagine or I am the walrus. Or smoke on the water etc Even now in today's music if you put those 4 songs on a CD and sent into a major label you would get signed in fact they would fight to get you to sign for them.
What some people have to realise is. There songs may sound good to themselves. But to the record labels and publisher it may sound crap.

Songwriters have to stop blaming other people and start to look at themselves.

Examples
Those 4 songs I mentioned above would get you signed but they wouldn't sound anything like they sound now. They would be reproduced to sound current for today's market.

The way to look at it is wallpaper was big in the 60s
It was big in the 70s but the pattern changed
It was big in the 80s and 90s and it's big now but the pattern is always changing and the old patterns look dated.

If you don't make your songs sound current and learn new ways and new styles then your 60s 70s 80s and 90s wallpaper is never going to sell.

Being a songwriter is all about making hits. Or why bother writing at all.
Whatever business you are in you want to sell your product. If you don't want to sell anything.
Then just be a listener.

#1126069 - 03/31/17 06:47 PM Re: Why no study materials for music writing? [Re: John Lawrence Schick]  
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If youve got hit material it will rise to the top.
Have you got any songs like yesterday imagine or I am the walrus. Or smoke on the water etc Even now in today's music if you put those 4 songs on a CD and sent into a major label you would get signed in fact they would fight to get you to sign for them.
What some people have to realise is. There songs may sound good to themselves. But to the record labels and publisher it may sound crap.

Songwriters have to stop blaming other people and start to look at themselves.

Examples
Those 4 songs I mentioned above would get you signed but they wouldn't sound anything like they sound now. They would be reproduced to sound current for today's market.

The way to look at it is wallpaper was big in the 60s
It was big in the 70s but the pattern changed
It was big in the 80s and 90s and it's big now but the pattern is always changing and the old patterns look dated.

If you don't make your songs sound current and learn new ways and new styles then your 60s 70s 80s and 90s wallpaper is never going to sell.

Being a songwriter is all about making hits. Or why bother writing at all.
Whatever business you are in you want to sell your product. If you don't want to sell anything.
Then just be a listener.

#1126070 - 03/31/17 07:52 PM Re: Why no study materials for music writing? [Re: Mm308]  
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Originally Posted by Mm308
If youve got hit material it will rise to the top.

Being a songwriter is all about making hits. Or why bother writing at all.
Whatever business you are in you want to sell your product. If you don't want to sell anything.
Then just be a listener.


I think that a lot of what you said was true. I think that some of it isn't.

The structure of pop music is simplistic. I could spend my time breaking it down for what is current and endeavoring to write hits...and if I did, I think that I could get to where I could tailor my stuff for a current artist and turn out songs that he or she could make work...but...without the history of personal relationships and the contacts, no matter how well I write...I give it no real chance. I think that there is a much greater chance that any truly marketable song that I might have would be lifted and altered by someone more connected.

One of my songs was advanced to the next level by NSAI. If that had been Luke Bryan's producer saying "with some work, he'll cut this" ...I'd be all over it
I let the song go and can't even remember the words. Without the relationships (market place), whose paradigm would I shoot for? Song are like little sisters...someone can always find something wrong with them...or right.

So,,,why bother?

I love to write. Not just songs but anything. I don't like trying to write hits because the odds are so stacked against me that I see it as a long road to disappointment. And very possibly, I just don't have the talent. In addition to that, writing a hit is a structured thing....short intro, 3.5 minutes etc. To some of us, that's confining..

Having said all that...I think that you're right. If a person wants to write hits but is writing soupy sentiments to decades old chord patterns and timing...there is no viable hope for that.

Ps...I like Deep Purple. Always liked Ritchie Blackmore and Smoke was and is a giant song...but 'tween you and me...it's not really that good. Just somehow caught fire. Pun intended. Guitar riff and a rumbling base did it...I guess. Words and meaning are virtually unintelligible. It's about a fire across a lake where they were playing...I think. Yet, it is venerable.



Last edited by Martin Lide; 03/31/17 08:23 PM.
#1126071 - 03/31/17 08:56 PM Re: Why no study materials for music writing? [Re: Bugsey]  
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Some good thoughts circulating here

I think John spoke about e word "hit"

He's right, I think a hit is just a song that got lots of exposure. It's not a hit until millions of people hear it, and either love it or hate it, and it sells.

Great songs can be left behind, mediocre songs can get famous. With subjectivity, nobody really knows what a great song is.

All you can do is do YOU really well.

Working on your craft is not just about having a hit. You work on your craft and try to improve because you love writing. Nothing wrong with chasing e dream, but also Nothing wrong with chasing the dream of being great.

That matters to me, I want to be great at it. Because I think I'm good, and know I can stretch it to great

*Even if you score a hit, as a songwriter, the pay might not be as great as you think. I know of two cases, where a songwriter had a hit song cut, and they made 50 k

Nice piece of change, but when you think how unlikely it was that you could be in The position to have a hit, and no telling how much you spent on gear, and demos before you ever had it, it's not a great financial payoff, even having a hit

Having 20 hits, ok, now your talking

I have written many kinds of songs. I've tried cheesy pop, I've tried dead serious folk, I do rock in my sleep, I have written songs with no chorus, songs with nothing but a chorus. I've written songs trying to sound like my heros and songs trying to sound like what the radio was playing. I've written blues, even some classica

Once the songs were done, can't honestly say I tried too hard to have a hit or try to market them

Mostly because I realize it's a fruitless idea

I dont think you can blame just a lack of talent for not having a hit song, you can blame lack of drive and lack of never taking no for an answer, and not working as hard as you possibly can at your craft

But if your only satisfaction is landing the hit, you may never find it

But a hit would be nice too


Last edited by Minstrel80; 03/31/17 09:26 PM.
#1126072 - 03/31/17 09:06 PM Re: Why no study materials for music writing? [Re: Bugsey]  
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@ Martin, I disagree with your smoke on the water assessment

Yes, the guitar riff is the majority of it, but that's rock n roll too.

That simple combination of bar chords, was something only they came up with. The chorus is pretty huge too

Guitar riffs make songs and artists famous, they end up on the rock band and guitar hero games.

its in ac/dc back in black, Metallica, enter sandman, Led Zeppelin heart breaker, the Nuge cat scratch fever,

The clash should I stay or should I go.

Most van halen songs, most stones songs.

I don't call them great songs per se, but these are the songs that make kids say "dad can you buy me a guitar?

Not easy to write a guitar riff that has that kind of power







Last edited by Minstrel80; 03/31/17 09:07 PM.
#1126073 - 03/31/17 10:03 PM Re: Why no study materials for music writing? [Re: Minstrel80]  
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Minstrel...I like smoke. Used to cover it years ago. Liked Lazy better. Loved Hush. Never in a band with a vocalist or the sound that could pull Hush off. To each his own.

Van Halen on the other hand was the sensuality of ZZTOP with monster guitar added. They did some truly great artistic stuff.

"It's all good" wink

#1126074 - 03/31/17 10:47 PM Re: Why no study materials for music writing? [Re: Mm308]  
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Originally Posted by Mm308
If youve got hit material it will rise to the top.
Have you got any songs like yesterday imagine or I am the walrus. Or smoke on the water etc Even now in today's music if you put those 4 songs on a CD and sent into a major label you would get signed in fact they would fight to get you to sign for them.


This is simply not true. Anyone who has ever been in this business knows that connections and luck matter as much as talent. Hits are generated by airplay and promotion, and the majority of media platforms are owned by corporations (the same ones that own the "record" companies in many cases).

Those songs you mentioned were great in their day. This is no guarantee that they would fare well in today's market. That is like saying big band stuff from the 40s would sell now like it did back then. Modern production techniques aren't going to change a swing number into an EDM pop tune and still be THAT tune.

Originally Posted by Mm308

Being a songwriter is all about making hits. Or why bother writing at all.
Whatever business you are in you want to sell your product. If you don't want to sell anything.
Then just be a listener.


Funny, I thought being a songwriter was about WRITING SONGS. I should base my entire outlook on money because that is the only thing that matters? And, if I don't center my existence around the holy cash cow then I should stop writing and just be a music consumer? I THINK NOT

It's a tough business, and you are not going to last long enough to have a hit if you live by your philosophy.

I value the art itself. To me, it is its own means and ends, not just a means to an end.

Peace,
TC

Last edited by TC Perkins; 04/01/17 04:26 PM.

If it has strings I will find a way to play it!

You can hear my tunes at https://soundcloud.com/tc-gypsy
#1126079 - 03/31/17 11:41 PM Re: Why no study materials for music writing? [Re: Bugsey]  
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I understand MMs point of view. At some point you need an audience at least to hear the fruits of your labor. I guess songwriting forums fill that void for people who would never be heard by anyone without it, or the net in general

Back in the day you could write as many songs as you wanted, spend crazy hours fine tuning and recording them, and in the end nobody heard them.

I did that for so long, can't begin to tell you. I have shoe boxes full of cassette tapes with dummy melodies and scratch ideas...(now I use my phone for that purpose)

But it can be a thankless venture, songwriting.

Nobody owes you anything, nobody is obliged to listen.

All you got is your own self esteem and pride.

I understand his point because the return on investment in music/songwriting is ashtonishngly bad.

If I was paid by the hour for the amount of time I put into music, be it learning guitar, learning how to write songs, sitting alone for hours practicing, how many times I pulled over to jot down an idea, or do a quick recording of a song idea on tape or phone

And hours and hours of recording, and re recording, and punching in, and mixing,

But if I was paid by the hour for that, I could have lived very comfortably on that alone. But not only do you not get any pay, you end up spending money to do it!

It's horrible really, lol

But, as was said, you got love it, why the hell else would you do it?

For me, having an audience would be the ultimate, even a regular crowd of 25 people who naybe come to my weekly show, and I dint have to call them to come...lol

There are artists out there who have very humble followings, if even to have 25 real fans showing up at your shows is pretty tough to accomplish





Last edited by Minstrel80; 03/31/17 11:48 PM.
#1126083 - 04/01/17 09:49 AM Re: Why no study materials for music writing? [Re: Bugsey]  
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Marc Barnette Offline
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Marc Barnette  Offline
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#1126087 - 04/01/17 01:21 PM Re: Why no study materials for music writing? [Re: Marc Barnette]  
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Martin Lide Online content
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Martin Lide  Online Content
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Originally Posted by Marc Barnette


Very nicely written and a bullseye to the topic here. TFP.

Martin

#1126092 - 04/01/17 04:06 PM Re: Why no study materials for music writing? [Re: Bugsey]  
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Toby Barns Offline
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I just wanted to point out that there are actually 12 notes in western music. The 7 note limitation applies to staying diatonic to a Major scale for instance.

However, I agree that some people are born with musical tendencies.

For me, music is just always there. A good example of what I mean is improvisation.

If you understand a little music theory (nothing too scary) and you just let it go, see what happens, then you may come up with ultra-cool melodic ideas that can even become the foundation for actual songs in their own right.

Its kind of like letting the music be in control, as opposed to you trying to harness the music.

#1126095 - 04/01/17 04:30 PM Re: Why no study materials for music writing? [Re: Toby Barns]  
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TC Perkins Offline
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TC Perkins  Offline
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Virginia
Originally Posted by Toby Barns

... A good example of what I mean is improvisation.

If you understand a little music theory (nothing too scary) and you just let it go, see what happens, then you may come up with ultra-cool melodic ideas that can even become the foundation for actual songs in their own right.

Its kind of like letting the music be in control, as opposed to you trying to harness the music.


I find that improvising is one of the keys to writing music. Sometimes just noodling on the guitar, or singing nonsense in the kitchen can blossom into a full fledged song.

Peace,
TC


If it has strings I will find a way to play it!

You can hear my tunes at https://soundcloud.com/tc-gypsy
#1126097 - 04/01/17 05:02 PM Re: Why no study materials for music writing? [Re: Bugsey]  
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Yes TC, and another plus about improv is that you really can just let your mind go. I love the feeling of hearing the notes but NOT thinking too much about them.

#1126109 - 04/02/17 04:03 AM Re: Why no study materials for music writing? [Re: Bugsey]  
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R&M Offline
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I always looked toward the net as more free wheeling and given to different slants. But this site is more trad and standard. Everyone's approach is different. Would bode well having a forum for just standards. I always preferred improvising but I can't be understood as well without some formidible sense of foundation.

Matt

#1126112 - 04/02/17 07:52 AM Re: Why no study materials for music writing? [Re: Bugsey]  
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Toby Barns Offline
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You do have to know the rules before you can break them, so to speak.

Really though, no matter what level you are at as far as playing your musical instrument, there is loads of information out there. Some of it may be wrong, some may be poorly presented, some may be free and some you may want to purchase.

It basically comes down to how much of your own time and work that you are able and willing to dedicate to improving your level.

On the other hand, you definitely do not have to have a massive amount of knowledge about the intricacies of music theory in order to create appealing music and songs.

Look at Bob Dylan, many of his songs are based upon fairly basic guitar chords.

Look at Nirvana, same thing.

Those guys did not need to go too far into complex music, and they created FANTASTIC songs.

With all the info at all of our fingertips, I believe that almost anybody can learn enough about making music to start writing songs.

#1126128 - 04/03/17 07:12 AM Re: Why no study materials for music writing? [Re: Bugsey]  
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Everett Adams Online content
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Everett Adams  Online Content
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Who was it that said, if you use more than four chords in a country song, you are showing off. grin

#1126129 - 04/03/17 07:54 AM Re: Why no study materials for music writing? [Re: Everett Adams]  
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John Lawrence Schick Offline
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John Lawrence Schick  Offline
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Originally Posted by Everett Adams
Who was it that said, if you use more than four chords in a country song, you are showing off. grin

Hey Everett. Well, Hank Williams said "If a song can't be written in 20 minutes, it ain't worth writing".

John smile

#1126160 - 04/03/17 07:16 PM Re: Why no study materials for music writing? [Re: Mm308]  
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summeoyo Offline
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Originally Posted by Mm308
If youve got hit material it will rise to the top.
Have you got any songs like yesterday imagine or I am the walrus. Or smoke on the water etc Even now in today's music if you put those 4 songs on a CD and sent into a major label you would get signed in fact they would fight to get you to sign for them.
What some people have to realise is. There songs may sound good to themselves. But to the record labels and publisher it may sound crap.

Songwriters have to stop blaming other people and start to look at themselves.

Examples
Those 4 songs I mentioned above would get you signed but they wouldn't sound anything like they sound now. They would be reproduced to sound current for today's market.

The way to look at it is wallpaper was big in the 60s
It was big in the 70s but the pattern changed
It was big in the 80s and 90s and it's big now but the pattern is always changing and the old patterns look dated.

If you don't make your songs sound current and learn new ways and new styles then your 60s 70s 80s and 90s wallpaper is never going to sell.

Being a songwriter is all about making hits. Or why bother writing at all.
Whatever business you are in you want to sell your product. If you don't want to sell anything.
Then just be a listener.


I've actually had discussions with people who had credits on platinum albums. I can say with no uncertainty that they would disagree with you. I highly doubt that Deep Purple would have as good a chance of making a hit now as they did back then. With population growth and the Internet, there is exponentially more competition and marketing is now more of a factor than ever. It's harder to get the exposure needed to rise to a level where your target market has the opportunity to enjoy your product than it was forty years ago. I'm in sales. I've seen many products superior to what's popular come and go. I've also seen where relationships often are more of a factor in determining the outcome of the offering than the quality of the offering. If you'd attend any quality music convention(that's about the business of music) you will hear the term "networking". A lot of times the ones who are better at networking than they are at songwriting get the opportunity. So many hit level songs don't make it. Believing that hit material will always rise to the top is naive. If one can live with that truth, songwriting can be the enjoyable gift that it is.

#1126164 - 04/03/17 09:14 PM Re: Why no study materials for music writing? [Re: summeoyo]  
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Brian Austin Whitney Offline
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Indianapolis, IN USA
Originally Posted by summeoyo
Originally Posted by Mm308
If youve got hit material it will rise to the top.
Have you got any songs like yesterday imagine or I am the walrus. Or smoke on the water etc Even now in today's music if you put those 4 songs on a CD and sent into a major label you would get signed in fact they would fight to get you to sign for them.
What some people have to realise is. There songs may sound good to themselves. But to the record labels and publisher it may sound crap.

Songwriters have to stop blaming other people and start to look at themselves.

Examples
Those 4 songs I mentioned above would get you signed but they wouldn't sound anything like they sound now. They would be reproduced to sound current for today's market.

The way to look at it is wallpaper was big in the 60s
It was big in the 70s but the pattern changed
It was big in the 80s and 90s and it's big now but the pattern is always changing and the old patterns look dated.

If you don't make your songs sound current and learn new ways and new styles then your 60s 70s 80s and 90s wallpaper is never going to sell.

Being a songwriter is all about making hits. Or why bother writing at all.
Whatever business you are in you want to sell your product. If you don't want to sell anything.
Then just be a listener.


I've actually had discussions with people who had credits on platinum albums. I can say with no uncertainty that they would disagree with you. I highly doubt that Deep Purple would have as good a chance of making a hit now as they did back then. With population growth and the Internet, there is exponentially more competition and marketing is now more of a factor than ever. It's harder to get the exposure needed to rise to a level where your target market has the opportunity to enjoy your product than it was forty years ago. I'm in sales. I've seen many products superior to what's popular come and go. I've also seen where relationships often are more of a factor in determining the outcome of the offering than the quality of the offering. If you'd attend any quality music convention(that's about the business of music) you will hear the term "networking". A lot of times the ones who are better at networking than they are at songwriting get the opportunity. So many hit level songs don't make it. Believing that hit material will always rise to the top is naive. If one can live with that truth, songwriting can be the enjoyable gift that it is.


What he said.....


Brian Austin Whitney
Founder
Just Plain Folks
jpfolkspro@aol.com
Skype: Brian Austin Whitney

"Don't sit around and wait for success to come to you... it doesn't know the way." -Brian Austin Whitney


#1126165 - 04/03/17 09:21 PM Re: Why no study materials for music writing? [Re: Bugsey]  
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Toby Barns Offline
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That is very true about the networking versus talent. I knew a songwriter who was really far less creative or good at many elements of songwriting than plenty of other people's work. They were okay, but they got a gig on the Row because they were better at networking.

It is sort of strange because with so many people wanting to make something with a songwriting career, the publishers are understandably overwhelmed. So its like the squeakiest wheel gets the oil!

In this particular instance, that writer did not last long in that gig. They did however learn a lot so now their songs have better qualities about them because of the experience they gained working with other writers.

The end result of it all is that now they are just another artist out there, playing fairly basic gigs on fairly basic regional circuits. They put out albums on all the sites and have a career. They moved on with what they learned.

That's actually pretty cool. The songs are very generic though and in no way do they stand out. They are not getting rich either.

So even though there are people who have better songs, that is likely not enough without getting a rare opportunity by getting your foot in the door.

I think that "better songs" means something very different today than what it used to mean.

I am not so sure that highly melodic songs like "I am the Walrus" would fit in today. I think it is TOO melodic and too AMAZINGLY creative for the public at large.

It would have to be really dumbed down, put to a repetitive drum sample, the melody would need to have most of the life squeezed out of it.

Then it might appeal to the wallpaper of the month crowd.

#1126176 - 04/04/17 08:18 AM Re: Why no study materials for music writing? [Re: John Lawrence Schick]  
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Everett Adams Online content
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Everett Adams  Online Content
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Originally Posted by John Lawrence Schick
Originally Posted by Everett Adams
Who was it that said, if you use more than four chords in a country song, you are showing off. grin

Hey Everett. Well, Hank Williams said "If a song can't be written in 20 minutes, it ain't worth writing".

John smile


I did not know that John, but some of my best songs were written in 20 minutes or less, but some that took much longer to write turned out OK too, but some not so good. You have to grab them as they are floating by to get the best results. LOL

#1126820 - 04/21/17 11:15 AM Re: Why no study materials for music writing? [Re: Toby Barns]  
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sjames17 Offline
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sjames17  Offline
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Joined: Apr 2017
Posts: 18
Originally Posted by Toby Barns
You do have to know the rules before you can break them, so to speak.

Really though, no matter what level you are at as far as playing your musical instrument, there is loads of information out there. Some of it may be wrong, some may be poorly presented, some may be free and some you may want to purchase.

It basically comes down to how much of your own time and work that you are able and willing to dedicate to improving your level.

On the other hand, you definitely do not have to have a massive amount of knowledge about the intricacies of music theory in order to create appealing music and songs.

Look at Bob Dylan, many of his songs are based upon fairly basic guitar chords.

Look at Nirvana, same thing.

Those guys did not need to go too far into complex music, and they created FANTASTIC songs.

With all the info at all of our fingertips, I believe that almost anybody can learn enough about making music to start writing songs.


Well I think there is a difference between performers/bands and songwriters

When you are a songwriter only, all you have to offer is your song.

As a performer or a band, there are other things in the picture, like a great vocalist, great sound, great musicians, great productions, great live performances, vibe, energy, look, chicks screaming.

If Kurt Cobain was just a songwriter, , and never was a performer or in a ground breaking rock band,
would he be a hit songwriter? I doubt it. He might have been a hit songwriter after his nirvana success, because he already was a brand name in the industry,
and had endless amounts of contacts

As a songwriter, you can't blow people away with your guitar sound, or your front man appeal, or your opinions, or your look or vibe, you have to catch a different audience, that's the artist who needs songs.

I agree about music not needing to be complex. Trying to improve your songwriting is less about trying to be complex, but more about trying to be authentic. A lot of three chord writers say more with three chords and few words than others do with the full tilt.

Dylan wrote a lot of musically simple songs, but he knew how to frame his characters, he understood what music was needed to bring his ideas to life. Alot of copy cats

try to do the same thing, strum a few chords, play a harp, but they dont make an impact like he did.

Even when using three chords, there are still good things and bad things you can do with them.

The music supports the lyrics and vice verse.

Sure there is plenty of music, especially in rock. where craft and art does not matter. The attitude, sound, and charisma is what sells it

But can you do that as a songwriter or somebody trying to write for film?

I can perform my stuff, but I think I got more interested in writing because I realized my window of opportunity of being a rock star was gone.

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