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#731002 - 06/19/09 12:59 PM Why are there so many lyric-only folks?  
Joined: Feb 2007
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Kevin Emmrich Offline
Kevin Emmrich  Offline


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Crozet, VA
I just don't get it. Without music, it is just not a song. It seems to me that any aspiring songwriter has to (mandatory, required, no excuses) learn how to play the piano or guitar to at least make suitable work tapes. It would take no longer than 12 months for the "average bear" to become proficient enough on an instrument to compose at least pretty straight forward tunes.

Plus there's BIAB and other tools that can come up with pretty decent musical backings for any one who has learned the simplest basics of chord theory (it will only take a year).

So, what's stopping you lyric-only folks?

Kevin

P.S. Don't take offense -- I really want to know.


"It's supposed to be hard. If it wasn't hard, everyone would do it. The 'hard' is what makes it great."
Kevin @ bandcamp: Crows Say Vee-Eh (and Kevin @50/90 2019)
#731006 - 06/19/09 01:36 PM Re: Why are there so many lyric-only folks? [Re: Kevin Emmrich]  
Joined: May 2001
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Ray E. Strode Offline
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Ray E. Strode  Offline
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Brunswick, Ga. USA
Well,
There are no shortcuts to success. I advise anyone who wants to be a songwriter to learn to play an instrument. You can buy a good guitar for a song these days. It does take dedication.


Ray E. Strode
#731009 - 06/19/09 01:41 PM Re: Why are there so many lyric-only folks? [Re: Ray E. Strode]  
Joined: Apr 2009
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beechnut79 Offline
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beechnut79  Offline
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Villa Park IL
I do feel that we have come a long way from the days when tabloid magazines listed ads for song lyrics to be set music to. No doubt some of them were scams. One time I was contacted by an outfit in California called Hilltop. They wanted a $360 fee, which is about double what I got my demo done for. I believe lyricists like myself come to a board like this primarily to seek out collaborators as well as to get feedback. At least that was my case.

I also believe there are people who have melodies in mind but are afraid something they come up might sound too much like a well-known song that could end up in the courts in our overly litigious society.

#731012 - 06/19/09 01:52 PM Re: Why are there so many lyric-only folks? [Re: beechnut79]  
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Nadia Offline
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Nadia  Offline
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Why don't you worry about writing well known lyrics then? I rememeber speaking to someone about this. She never worries that her lines could be similar to something. Composers often have this fear that their music sounds like someone else's but I don't hear from lyricists that they feel that way.


Nadia
#731017 - 06/19/09 01:59 PM Re: Why are there so many lyric-only folks? [Re: beechnut79]  
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Joe Wrabek Offline
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Joe Wrabek  Offline
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I differ. I don't think somebody who writes lyrics has got to learn to play an instrument, or write music. Yes, it helps. But not everybody's strength lies in that direction.

For years 'n' years, songs were team efforts, in the pattern Tin Pan Alley made famous (though it had been going on for a few hundred years before that)--one person wrote the lyrics, and another wrote the music. Until real recently, Nashville still worked like that.

I would agree that lyrics only are not going anywhere in the music industry; they never have. If you've got lyrics, you need to find a composer. You're prey for the Paramount (&c.) crowd, and I would not give 'em the time of day. Instead, you are likely to find just what you need right here, or somewhere like here. There are a bunch of people (including myself) who are able and willing to set somebody's lyrics to music. At that point, you've got something you can peddle.

My opinion, as always.

Joe

#731025 - 06/19/09 02:09 PM Re: Why are there so many lyric-only folks? [Re: Joe Wrabek]  
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Hummingbird Offline
Hummingbird  Offline

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Victoria, B.C. Canada
My take on it is, this industry is really competitive and if your strength is writing excellent lyrics then you need to focus on that, and partner with someone (or several someones) who writes great music in your genre. That's assuming you are seeking some sort of commercial success.

However I do agree that lyricists should try to gain some musicial knowledge - take guitar or piano, sing in a choir.

Whatever your role, I think it's good to keep expanding your experience - learn a new instrument, play different styles of music, listen to a variety of genres


Vikki Flawith: Songwriter/Composer, Singer/Voice Teacher

12Feb10- *NEW BLOG: "BE YOUR OWN GURU ;)"

MY STORY & MY MUSIC: http://www.vikkiflawith.com
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#731036 - 06/19/09 02:32 PM Re: Why are there so many lyric-only folks? [Re: Hummingbird]  
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Mark Kaufman Offline
Mark Kaufman  Offline

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Minneapolis
I've met a lot of people who have a deep passion for music and songs, but they just can't physically make music. Some take guitar or piano lessons, but it just doesn't work--they know the sound of good music, but their body can't make it happen...the strum has no rhythm, the chords can't be remembered, the voice won't hit the note, the finger keeps forgetting how to press the keys. I feel the same way when I try to install an HVAC system...sorry, no can do.

But a person like this may still love music and may be a very good wordsmith. There aren't a lot of people reading poems these days, but good lyrics are still a lively part of our culture.

My advice to this sort of lyricist is always the same: whatever you write, keep its rhythm consistent...it's not the exact syllable count so much as the rhythm of the lyrical lines that needs to match the same melodic passage.

(Here's an example of two lines with the exact same syllables...one would work for the song, and one would not:

"All you need is love"
"My name is Helen"

Guess which one Lennon used for his melody? smile )

#731038 - 06/19/09 02:38 PM Re: Why are there so many lyric-only folks? [Re: Hummingbird]  
Joined: Apr 2009
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Michelle Chapman Offline
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Michelle Chapman  Offline
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Martinsburg,WV
Hi Kevin,
For me Kevin,Its a matter of not wanting to bite off more than I can chew....at this point in time anyway.

I tried to learn guitar a few years ago,and just found it was not my thing.

I'm a writer,and I want to work on trying to perfect my skills in writing.I have been absorbing myself into reading and studying anything that I possibly can about writing lyrics.

For me,at least,it's just not as simple as writing some words that rhyme down on paper.I'm in the early stages of the learning process and I want to be the best writer that I can possibly be.

For me it would be like telling the camera man in a news story that he needs to learn to report the news also.It would be great if he could do both,but he probably wants to focus on the job he is best at.

Some musicians cant write lyrics no matter how hard they try,and some lyricists cant play music.It would be better if everyone could learn to do both,but it just doesnt work out that way for everyone all the time.

I am however learning,that OCCASIONALLY ,I can come up with a melody in my head for a lyric that I am working on but that isnt always the case,so I depend on the great co-writers that I have been finding,that take a look at one of my lyrics and finds something in the lyric that inspires them.

I just want to learn to be the best lyricist that I can be,and I have a long way to go,so I am focusing on the lyrical aspects of songwriting only for now.That is my reason.I'm sure that others will have other reasons.

Michelle


*****You know I'm a dreamer,but my heart's of gold*****Motley Crue


#731044 - 06/19/09 02:57 PM Re: Why are there so many lyric-only folks? [Re: Michelle Chapman]  
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BIG JIM MERRILEES Offline
BIG JIM MERRILEES  Offline

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Edinburgh, Scotland. UK
I kinda agree with Kevin. Whilst you do not need to be a musician to appreciate good music you really have to be able to at least understand, to a certain degree, the fundamentals of music construction, meter, rhythm and chord structure to actually write lyrics. Otherwise you are not a lyricist but a POET.
I have seen many poems that people like to call "lyrics" which would require major surgery by a tune-smith to turn them into a song. Any lyricist needs to hear the music, albeit in their head before they can write passable lyrics.
To say that you can write lyrics without understanding music composition or being able to play an instrument is both naive and lazy.

#731047 - 06/19/09 03:23 PM Re: Why are there so many lyric-only folks? [Re: Joe Wrabek]  
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Harriet Ames Offline
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Harriet Ames  Offline
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Shelton, WA
I agree with Joe,

While there are some of us who can write both words and music.... it's not everybody's strength.
I've had some excellent lyricists who can sometimes sing me the tune they used to write their lyric...sometimes not. but can in no way play it on an instrument. and I'm not all that sure that they know much in the way of music theory.
But their lyrics flow with a rhythm that is strong. As I've said in the past....some of them practically write the music for me.
What is key for me more.... is that the lyricist understands how words flow. the natural rhythm and sycopation of how they are said.... that's where the difference between poetry and lyrics lies. Some words or phrases roll off the tongue easily...and some just don't.

frankly...to suggest that every lyricist can become a composer is a bit insulting to some of the great composers that inhabit these boards. If it's all just for fun...then great...go for it...
but if you're looking to compete in the commercial market...you can't be satisfied with just A TUNE...... you need a GREAT TUNE...
I'm not saying that some "strictly lyricists" here can't learn to play an instrument and go on to write some great music.... but to suggest that every one of them can, and should, (I know of one who did) I just don't think it's a requirement.

#731049 - 06/19/09 03:38 PM Re: Why are there so many lyric-only folks? [Re: BIG JIM MERRILEES]  
Joined: May 2006
Posts: 7,907
Colin Ward Offline
Colin Ward  Offline

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Saint Petersburg. FL
I have pondered this question myself numerous times. I would never have known that non-musicians wrote lyrics if I hadn't joined JPF. In fact it seems lyricists outnumber musicians handily.

In order to write a song, you've got to have rhythm. Some lyricists write with no meter or rhythm and do things like use a different number of lines from one verse to the next. Not much hope there.

I guess you could write lyrics even if you are tone deaf, as long as you have the rhythm and understand song structure.

There are probably a few people who have the rhythm and ear to be a musician but can't play an instrument because of a physical handicap. They could certainly write lyrics.

I look forward to Mark's new song "My Name is Helen".


Colin

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

http://colinwardmusic.com/

http://rosewoodcreekband.com/


#731051 - 06/19/09 03:43 PM Re: Why are there so many lyric-only folks? [Re: Harriet Ames]  
Joined: Feb 2007
Posts: 10,568
Kevin Emmrich Offline
Kevin Emmrich  Offline


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Crozet, VA
Quote
to suggest that every lyricist can become a composer is a bit insulting to some of the great composers that inhabit these boards.


Just to clarify, I am not saying that they become experts -- just a rudimentary feel for music to allow better writing of "musical" lyrics and to help lay groundwork for the future composers. "insulting to composers" -- not even close (I can see how lyricists might be offended, though).

Let's face it, for most writers with no music, 99% of lyrics here are going to die as just words. Learning the rudiments of piano, though, might give life to some of these lyrics. Then those 99% can at least go the Mark's "graveyard of songs".

By the way, this question comes from someone who does not feel gifted in either lyric writing or musical composition.

Kevin


"It's supposed to be hard. If it wasn't hard, everyone would do it. The 'hard' is what makes it great."
Kevin @ bandcamp: Crows Say Vee-Eh (and Kevin @50/90 2019)
#731063 - 06/19/09 05:30 PM Re: Why are there so many lyric-only folks? [Re: Kevin Emmrich]  
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J. Parker Offline
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J. Parker  Offline
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Texas
I'm glad someone asked that question, because I've wondered that for years. When I first made the decision to go head-on with songwriting, I picked up a few books to try and familiarize myself with the processes of the business. One of the books was by Jason Blume, and I recall a section about his early days in the writing biz...he didn't play an instrument, but he still sang his melodies into a tape player, even though he says he was far from a singer.

I see something like that being, at a minimum, a requirement for a songwriter. You don't have to sing well...you don't have to play well...but I think if you don't at least attempt to put the words to music...even if only in your head...you'll never really get a feel for how / if they flow.

Just my two cents.

#731064 - 06/19/09 05:34 PM Re: Why are there so many lyric-only folks? [Re: Kevin Emmrich]  
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WriterTomYeager Offline
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WriterTomYeager  Offline
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Harrisonburg,Virtginia
I say do what you are best at

some folks are gifted writers and some are gifted musicians....however they got that way doesnt really matter in my opinion....I am in Nashville-home to thousands of stunningly good musicians whose songs sound like Phobe from "Friends" when you see em play their own stuff at the tonks....thats why they will never be more than cover band material unless they partner with a good lyrics writer...and a good lyricist will bang on a computer keyboard searching for the right words and song stories while the musicians do their banging on guitars and keyboards hunting for a good melody......the partnership works........you can hand the lyricist a guitar and come back in five years and he/she will still be dreadful-as will the musician who is still at the redneck ebonics stage of english composition.....and believe me there is such a thing as redneck ebonics- I hear it all the time at the tonks......neither the lyricist nor musician is lazy....again-I say to both-just do what you are good at..and though I cuss em out as much or more than anyone else-you also need the business and marketing talents of the David Geffen types on Music Row.......cause when you give lyricists and musicians a label or publishing house to run you best have a lawyer experienced in bankruptcy law waiting in the wings for the fire sale......

Tom

#731065 - 06/19/09 05:36 PM Re: Why are there so many lyric-only folks? [Re: J. Parker]  
Joined: Dec 2007
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Gary Gray X Offline
Gary Gray X  Offline


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TEXAS
we all have desires to try things no matter if we play instruments or not.The key factor is to try, for it is better to have tried and failed than to have never tried at all.So who's to say a person shouldn't try writing lyrics? certainly not me!

#731066 - 06/19/09 05:40 PM Re: Why are there so many lyric-only folks? [Re: WriterTomYeager]  
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Moker Jarrett Offline
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Moker Jarrett  Offline
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jacksonville, fl
i think people work best when the work doesn't feel like work...they are doing what they enjoy and feel comfortable doing. I like and enjoy writing both lyrics and music. I recognize that there are many gifted people who prefer to just write lyric, most of them write a lot more songs than i do, and i write quite a lot. just my take...thank God for 'em...many of the favorite tunes i've written have been co-writes with lyricists...interesting opinions here, thanks kev...mj

#731068 - 06/19/09 05:40 PM Re: Why are there so many lyric-only folks? [Re: Kevin Emmrich]  
Joined: Sep 2001
Posts: 10,330
Jean Bullock Offline
Jean Bullock  Offline

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Anaheim, CA, USA
A song is meant to be sung. Instrumental music is not a song either.
It's a musical composition.


Regarding learning music: We'll never know if we don't try.

The rest of this is for those who have tried but in the trying found out where their real strengths lie:

There are plenty of people who can play music but can't create an appealing melody.

There are people who can create appealing melodies who can't write a lyric that does the melody justice.

Lyric writers should learn something about music and understand the parameters that are needed to create workable melodies.

Composers who write melodies for songs should learn something about lyric writing so they understand those parameters as well.

Composers and lyricists should both learn something about singing so they understand the demands placed on the singer.

Learning something about music, lyric writing,and singing doesn't mean that they need to be able to play, write, or sing either. If they aren't "wired" for that sort of thing, it would just be an exercise in futility.

That was my PC version.

I am afraid to post my non-PC version.


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#731071 - 06/19/09 05:49 PM Re: Why are there so many lyric-only folks? [Re: J. Parker]  
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Mike Caro Substudio Offline
Mike Caro Substudio  Offline

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NY
That is why such a person is called a "Lyricist" Bernie Taupin is a lyricist.

Musicians should ALL be able to write songs. Well they don't. Actually the thing is at least sometime in there life they try, or have written a few. But there are countless who have only been in cover bands,or wedding bands. Who have played & written instrumentals and never wrote one lyric.

Shouldn't a "producer" also be an engineer?

All these things are so very related yet so different in many ways. We see many things as one, just because someones's a great musician doesn't automatically make them a songwriter.

Think of all those who write poems, very close to lyrics, but.......

I think if you write lyrics only you are a lyricist,once someone puts music to your lyrics you are a a co-writer and I think it's okay to tell others "I'm a songwriter" smile

However I do agree and encourage, if your really into songwriting learning to play something even if just for fun/interest/challenge or cutting out your co-writers LOL is a very good thing. But Vikiki said it best "Focus mainly on what you do best"

I have a few tunes right now that desperately need lyrics only. I wriote them of course but these ones have been a thorn in my side for years now. I scout the lyric boards looking for a match. So! keep em coming lyricists smile


Thanks!
Peace Mike
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#731077 - 06/19/09 06:30 PM Re: Why are there so many lyric-only folks? [Re: Kevin Emmrich]  
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IdeaGuy Offline
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I guess we can all only answer this from our own point of view... I call myself "primarily a lyricist" I've banged on a guitar for 25 years but can't do much more than fake book covers. When I began to take songwriting seriously I began to try to make my own music... people tell me my melodies are good, but I have NO confidence in them, myself. I'd rather turn them over to a more polished musician who can make things that actually sound good. Sometimes my musical collaborators take my g/v worktapes and run from there, improving, refining, and elevating the song to a level I could never have taken it. Other collaborators would prefer to not be influenced by my worktapes but create their own melody from what they are hearing... Either way works fine for me but what I've found is that because I do hear a (however amateurish) melody when I write, that the end products are not usually all that different from what I was hearing in my own head and struggling to reproduce with my basic musical abilities. But what I have also found is that those differences between my worktapes and the end products (while usually minor in quantity) make a massive difference in the quality of the song. I prefer my lyrics to be handled by someone who knows what they are doing and can elevate my words to a place I could never have taken them, even if it's pretty darn close to where I could have taken them. Does that make any sense?

I have a song that I posted here about 6 months ago as one I wrote entirely myself - words and music. I received great reviews from many of you even though it was one of my self-produced amateurish worktapes. I've been begging for someone musical to take that song and produce a good demo of it... tweaking it as he/she sees necessary. The song is 95% done it just needs those embellishments that I can't do. I'm offering a co-write in exchange for a good demo. But I can't seem to get any takers... I wonder why... My alternative is of course to send it off to a demo mill but that's not in the budget right now... so I'm left here with a pretty decent tune that no ones REALLY going to hear until I can afford to get it demoed myself... that's kind of frustrating... I have bought BIAB and am trying to learn it to get somewhere with it but I feel like a second-grader in High school... Anybody wanna do a demo in exchange for a co-write? The offer still stands grin wink

#731085 - 06/19/09 06:54 PM Re: Why are there so many lyric-only folks? [Re: IdeaGuy]  
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Bill Osofsky Offline
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Quote
(Here's an example of two lines with the exact same syllables...one would work for the song, and one would not:

"All you need is love"
"My name is Helen"

Guess which one Lennon used for his melody?


On the other hand, "Her name was Lola" worked okay for Barry Manilow wink

Bill


#731092 - 06/19/09 07:14 PM Re: Why are there so many lyric-only folks? [Re: Bill Osofsky]  
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Marc Barnette Offline
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One answer might be that it is because almost any one can write in some form or another. We all start around 5 years old with poems, "I do not like Green Eggs and Ham, I do not like them Sam I am." So many people take it the next level writing poetry, stories, papers, etc. Most colleges require some form of creative writing in their cirricleum. Even in business sources there are writing elements involved.
Quite literally anyone can do it. But writing some lines and rhymes, telling a story, is one thing. Writing lyrics, that match music, and make people physically want to purchase it with their time or their physical money is something totally different.
And with things like the internet it has turned the world into poets, composers, inventors, lyricists, etc. That is partially why the Library of Congress is backed up two years for patent applications, copyrights, and similar legal avenues.
Music usually takes some form of instruction. Whether it is piano or guitar lessons at ten years old, choir or vocal groups, or being in bands or other outlets. It takes expense of having an instrument and some form of discipline to learn to do it. And for anyone that has ever gotten that old upright piano that is used basically to sit pictures of the grandkids on or that "old guitar case underneath the bed or sitting in the corner" it is easy to lose interest fast. It is hard and takes work.
This is not to diminish great lyricists or book authors. That is extrodinarily hard to do well as well. And there are very few true lyricists. Most writers in the past 40 years have been both musicians and lyricists, which is why there are so few "outside cuts" which means the artists themselves are the writers.
Over the past years since there are so many magazines, contests, etc. that the lyrics are allowed to be submitted, the explosion of people who think they are lyricists have grown by thousands of times. But in my humble opinion, most of these are not true lyricists. One look at American Songwriter magazine's lyric winners and second, third and fourth place winners make you wonder what the criteria are. There are really no place in modern society for eight and nine verse, rambling, trite, poetry that says nothing about anything in a very poor way, outside of other rambling, trite poetry, done in a poor way writers. It frankly encourages poor writing and never goes anywhere. But it does give the winners a plaque to put on their wall. Very nice.
That is my take on the question. good to hear from you all.

MAB

#731093 - 06/19/09 07:21 PM Re: Why are there so many lyric-only folks? [Re: IdeaGuy]  
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Turt Offline
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In my opinion two heads are better than one I am a lyricist and poet But when i write I usually hear some sort of music Sometimes I sing it into a recorder sometimes don't I like other people to come up with their own melody of a lyric i have written I have had people change things in my lyric to fit their music Would it be better to do both Well let me think Yes But if you have a great collaborater You accomplish the same thing A song I write because i want to If I am never a hit writer O well that's life www.sharemylyrics.com/lyricalturtle
www.showcaseyourmusic.com/lyricalturtle


Hi all my name is Turtle I am a lyricist always looking to collaborate My lyric wed site is http://www.sharemylyrics.com/lyricalturtle My collaborations are at http://www.soundclick.com/lyricalturtle
#731104 - 06/19/09 08:31 PM Re: Why are there so many lyric-only folks? [Re: Kevin Emmrich]  
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dont mean to drift the thread-as far as the original topic

but this is relevant to the "do what you are best at" for the overall mission type theory....even the Marine Corps uses it evidentaly.....selection process for the Marine Band-repost from Wiki..

Selection process
Musicians in the Marine Band are selected through a rigorous audition procedure. Candidates who satisfy the musical audition must meet security and physical requirements, and then are enlisted into the Marine Corps with four year contracts. Because musicians cannot be used for a combat mission, they are not required to attend recruit training.[1] Because the band recruits experienced musicians, members start at the rank of Staff Sergeant, and wear rank insignia with a lyre replacing the normal crossed rifles. Officers are drawn and commissioned from the band, but Drum Majors are career Marines and are selected from Fleet Marine Force bands (as they are responsible for the military development of the band's members).


(yes they play at the White House-but are they members of BMI or ASCAP-no-because they havent written any original material grin )

and I do agree with you Marc about 8 or 9 verse poets thinking they are lyricists....

they never get a full hearing of their material at the BMI Guest Publisher Screenings In Nashville-or as I call it "Home of the 45 Second Shot Clock"

Tom


Last edited by WriterTomYeager; 06/19/09 08:55 PM.
#731112 - 06/19/09 09:03 PM Re: Why are there so many lyric-only folks? [Re: WriterTomYeager]  
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Well, I think Marc B answered the question pretty honestly and accurately. There's so many lyric writers because it's something literally anyone can do - some better than others of course. To be honest, it's a completely futile pastime. But, as the great American icon John Wayne said: "Courage is being scared to death but saddling up anyway." So if you enjoy writing lyrics, go ahead and keep writing them, but understand and accept you may never get anywhere with them. There's something everyone has to come to terms with when you get into songwriting, be they a musician or lyricist: Being able to write a song is not an extraordinary skill, it's a noteworthy skill. Being able to write noteworthy songs is the extraordinary skill that you need to aspire to if you want to get anywhere.

I would say to lyric writers that the better the understanding you have of music, the more you put yourself above your peers. Learning an instrument is helpful, but learning to sing to the maximum of your ability is the best thing you can do. I see a lot of lyrics that are over structured, overly preoccupied with everything looking neat and tidy on the page, verbose, crammed and with no room for a singer to do what they like doing best - showing off the qualities of their voice. Being able to a sing to any extent opens up more melodic possibilities and means you can write from a singer's perspective.

I think putting your lyrics up in places like this is kind of showcasing your work and getting noticed. Ideally, you want a good melody writer to contact you and you and say, "Hey, I dig your lyrics, could you put some to this melody?" It's just my opinion, but the music first, lyrics second method generally yields better results. Doing it the other way around often leads to unoriginal, average songs.

Lucian

#731115 - 06/19/09 09:11 PM Re: Why are there so many lyric-only folks? [Re: WriterTomYeager]  
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Do what you do best is great advice but there is nothing wrong with learning new skills and venturing out of our own comfort zones. I do not know of any great lyricist who does not know the rudiments of music composition. I do not know of any great producers who do not know their way around a studio mixing desk and recording equipment. I know lots of folk who are willing to learn new crafts to enhance their own speciality as a result of embracing, learning and exploring other areas to improve skill and knowledge. It is both naive and insulting to say otherwise.

#731116 - 06/19/09 09:14 PM Re: Why are there so many lyric-only folks? [Re: WriterTomYeager]  
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Thanks Tom, my cousin was in the Air Force Band. He is a civilian now and has a regular gig in Branson. Not sure where he plays.

I don't want to make this post about me, but only share my experience. I grew up learning to play instruments since 9 years old, Violin, Clarinet, Sax, Guitar, Mandolin, Banjo. I know music theory somewhat from the early days. I can look at a manuscript and tell what time it's in, sharps, flats etc. I can get the idea and feel of the melody,(by reading those funny words like adagio..) but can't sight read. I mainly play the Guitar now, but can't read Guitar music. I read Tabulator and hate it.

I've only been writing my own songs for 7 years. When I write a song I write the lyrics and melody at the same time to establish a meter, then go back and change things later. Like McCartney's "Scrambled Eggs".

I'm venturing into writing melodies for others lyrics now and not finding it as easy as I thought. The melody is what catches the ear when first heard. Dylan and Donovan can do both, words and melody. It's like learning a new instrument to provide a great melody for pre written lyrics. I first try the original meter and lyric to get an idea of what the lyricist had intended, and if that doesn't work, I'll ask to make some changes.

As a musician, it would be nice to sit down with a co-writer and work a song out. That can't be done most of the time with the Internet, but I believe that the prospects are even greater with the Internet because you can meet co-writers that you will never find in your home town.

Yeah, it's hard to learn to play the guitar, you have to learn all those chords (7 basic) and change from G to C real fast. And don't forget that it makes your finger tips hurt.

Remember to tune your Guitar. Thanks, Ben

#731124 - 06/19/09 09:36 PM Re: Why are there so many lyric-only folks? [Re: lucian]  
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Jean Bullock Offline
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Originally Posted by lucian
… Doing it the other way around often leads to unoriginal, average songs. Lucian


Respectfully disagree on that one, Lucian.

A good composer will not be limited by writing to lyrics. An unimaginative composer will be.




Last edited by Jean Bullock; 06/20/09 01:03 AM.

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#731129 - 06/19/09 10:04 PM Re: Why are there so many lyric-only folks? [Re: Jean Bullock]  
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I pretty much agree and disagree with everything that has been said.When asked the question "what do you think is the most important part of the song,lyrics or music?",the answer always varies from person to person.I think you just have to look at the song as a whole.If a person writes music,they are a musician(whether or not they write good music),if a person writes lyrics they are a lyricist(whether the lyric are good or bad)...after all what some think is great,others may find painful to listen to.Variety is the spice of life,and thank goodness we dont all like the same things.I think it is absolutely wonderful if a person can compose music AND write lyrics,but its just a fact that for whatever reasons,some just simply cant.To me,it doest take away from the talents that they DO have.I call myself a songwriter because I HELP to write,or in some cases,write songs.I'm not claiming to be a great songwriter,but hope that some will like and enjoy the songs that I write(or HELP to write),and I am trying very hard to learn more about what I am doing everyday.I am trying to be the best lyricist that I possibly can and I am pouring my heart into learning everything that I can about writing great lyrics.As I said before,I really did attempt to learn to play the guitar,for several reason I found that it wasnt for me.For one thing,I have crippling arthritis in hands.I think people will choose to focus on what they do best,and what they love to do the most....in the process I am learning a little more about music.....I truly respect everyones opinion here,it just seems that it could have the potential to hurt or possibly even dissuade those who only write lyrics,to make them feel that their contribution to songwriting is unimportant.....but that is just my opinion,and I admit I dont know very much at all,but I sure am trying VERY VERY hard to learn.
Michelle


*****You know I'm a dreamer,but my heart's of gold*****Motley Crue


#731132 - 06/19/09 10:24 PM Re: Why are there so many lyric-only folks? [Re: Michelle Chapman]  
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ben willis Offline
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Very well put Michelle. I write lyrics but consider other lyricists here at JPF well above the plain than I am at as far as creativity and ideas. That is important. Not just instrumental ability.

My brother used to be a very fine guitar player until he got severe arthritis in his hands. He didn't give up. He now plays an open tuned slide guitar. Very little movement required for his afflicted fingers. He may do a recording with me soon.

#731144 - 06/19/09 10:41 PM Re: Why are there so many lyric-only folks? [Re: Michelle Chapman]  
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Mark Kaufman Offline
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Originally Posted by Michelle Chapman
I pretty much agree and disagree with everything that has been said.

Me too! grin

There are so many different ways to make a song fly. What is impossible for some is just the ticket for others.

In the end, the song's the thing. Make those lyrics sound like music. They need to be sung, so make 'em sound good. Chant them in the shower...sing them to an imaginary melody when no one else is listening. Get them off the page and into the air where they belong, because they're lyrics, not text.

#731145 - 06/19/09 10:41 PM Re: Why are there so many lyric-only folks? [Re: ben willis]  
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Dean Richardson Offline
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Yep, my opening disclaimer is that it is based on the musician..but now--in my opinion:

I am a music guy. Lyrics are important (sometimes), but not the integral part of the song.

If someone is lyrics only--and they hear the tune in their head--there is no excuse not to get to a piano or kbd and plink around until you find the notes to atleast flesh out crudely that tune in your head. If you don't "hear" the tune and it really is lyrics only,..what else is there to say. It may be a song, it may be a poem...but there isn't a song until there is music.

#731163 - 06/20/09 12:53 AM Re: Why are there so many lyric-only folks? [Re: Dean Richardson]  
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All I have to say, is that I don't do music, not at all in any form...but I love to write, so much stuff up in this wee lil' head of mine and I just want to get it out and on paper,,I hum it, sing it to myself..i'm sorry that I don't do the music, i've tried piano, guitar, key board,but I just can't get it to sound like I want and I feel my words deserve better, that's why I get others that are pro's in music to do my stuff..I'm just here doing the thing I do..not to get rich or anything like that...I'm not suppose to be a rich person..not in my genes..but i've met so many very talented people here and i'm having the time of my life..and I do want to thank each of you that has helped me, co-writers, demo singers, the one's that have put music to my lyrics and mostly to the rest of you that has given me feedback, whether it be postivie or negative..I really do appreciate each of you more than I can express...but since I don't do the music part, please don't hold that against me...and thanks for giving me the chance of my life to spend time with you here...i'm really living this up, never in my mind did I ever think that someone like me would even be putting words into a song and just hearing it on CD is more than I could have ever expected...so from me to each of you...thanks for what you do and thanks for giving me this dream of writing lyrics..love to all as always...............glyn

#731164 - 06/20/09 01:21 AM Re: Why are there so many lyric-only folks? [Re: glynda]  
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ben willis Offline
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Glyn hit the nail on the head. It doesn't matter if you produced a hit song (though no one would complain if you did). The point is that a lyricist can come here to JPF, introduce a lyric, and possibly get a demo. For nothing, or next to nothing, without Hilltop Records. After the demo, the rest is up to you.

#731165 - 06/20/09 01:21 AM Re: Why are there so many lyric-only folks? [Re: glynda]  
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Mike Dunbar Offline
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Why are there so many lyricists? Simple. A lot of people who play an instrument do not compose, they play cover tunes. A lot of singers don't write the melodies, they sing cover tunes. But lyricists don't sit and write out cover tunes. They all write original lyrics.

If you have any more questions, feel free to ask.


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

#731166 - 06/20/09 01:34 AM Re: Why are there so many lyric-only folks? [Re: ben willis]  
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ben willis Offline
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Originally Posted by ben willis
The point is that a lyricist can come here to JPF, introduce a lyric, and possibly get a demo. For nothing, or next to nothing, without Hilltop Records.


I'm quoting myself. I don't want to diminish the value of having a professionally made demo done.

#731167 - 06/20/09 01:36 AM Re: Why are there so many lyric-only folks? [Re: Mike Dunbar]  
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Well.....I have to confess...in high school, when I was bored in class, I would write popular song lyrics on my notebook. Beatles, Floyd, Bowie...

So I guess that made me a cover lyricist.

#731173 - 06/20/09 01:54 AM Re: Why are there so many lyric-only folks? [Re: Mark Kaufman]  
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Marc Barnette Offline
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Music gets them there. Lyrics keep them there.

M

#731177 - 06/20/09 02:13 AM Re: Why are there so many lyric-only folks? [Re: Marc Barnette]  
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Patti Smith Offline
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Wow! I was speechless, then I decided to say this-I prefer to write because I'm passionate about it. I haven't had time to post a lot. It took a little while to read this thread and it's very interesting how people feel. I will continue to write lyrics while waiting for a composer. I strum on my guitar some. I have crappy melodies in my head. I could be worse and I could be better. The fact is, it exercises my brain: helps me feel creative and is an outlet at times. What's wrong with that? There are legendary songwriting partners that split the job in two primarily because of their strengths.


Patti Smith-Lyric writer Wanted CO-WRITERS
#731180 - 06/20/09 02:20 AM Re: Why are there so many lyric-only folks? [Re: Mark Kaufman]  
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ben willis Offline
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Originally Posted by Mark Kaufman
Well.....I have to confess...in high school, when I was bored in class, I would write popular song lyrics on my notebook. Beatles, Floyd, Bowie...


Mark, I didn't do that, but had a friend who did, (In high school). I was music publisher of the high school newspaper. I remember a guy who tried to post the lyrics of a Who song as his own. I caught it, and it wasn't published. I know that you didn't do that kind of thing. (no wink, I really know).

I think that I was at a keg party and skipping class when that edition came out.

#731184 - 06/20/09 02:25 AM Re: Why are there so many lyric-only folks? [Re: ben willis]  
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Patti, hang out. You will find a co-writer here. I almost guarentee.

#731187 - 06/20/09 02:38 AM Re: Why are there so many lyric-only folks? [Re: ben willis]  
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I hear the music in my head and then I am lucky enough to be able to play a few chords on the piano and describe what I hear to my husband, who then translates it all into the arrangement and production.

This has worked fine for me because I am able to communicate in musical terms well enough. However, sometimes my husband (who is a very schooled musician) will get a bit disturbed with my instructions. He'll say things like "those notes don't fit into the chord" or "those chord changes don't make any sense."

Then I get huffy with him and tell him that it sounds perfectly wonderful inside my head and I'm sure it will sound just as wonderful when he plays it the way I hear it.

We are a good team because I'm usually doing things outside the box and he usually keeps me grounded. Just the other day we did an arrangement of a country song I wrote to present to a national product sponsor. We had a Nashville guy over to sing it and play guitar. My husband did his usual, "those chords don't usually go in that sequence" thing. The singer/guitarist from Nashville said the same thing. But, when the song was all down on tape and they were both digging it, the Nashville guy said laughing,"you and I are going to co-write a song when I steal those chords from you!"

My point is that sometimes a non-trained musician like myself can write some pretty great music in her head! Yes, I could take the time to learn to play an instrument better, but I've had six national song cuts and made my living writing music for jingles and commercials for most of my life without playing an instrument (besides plucking out chords to show my husband!)

We all have our own unique creative strengths and if we find a way to use them which then translates into great songs, well that's all that really matters.

If you can hear the music in your head, then all you need is an arranger to help you put it down on tape.

If you don't hear the music in your head, then learning to play an instrument may not be the answer. It will only serve to help you fish for a melody, which also works for many.

Best,
Heidi







"And, in the end, the love you take is equal to the love you make." Paul McCartney
#731189 - 06/20/09 03:11 AM Re: Why are there so many lyric-only folks? [Re: Heidi Thompson]  
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I guess the point is that you don't have to be musically trained. Which you don't. It helps.

You can tell the co-writer the time, and key of the song. Of course we can always change the Key according to the singer.

As a co-writer, I'm still with the attitude that I would rather have my co-writer sitting with me in the same room at the same time across from each other. That way, I can hit some chords and make a melody on the spot. If it isn't right, I'll try something else.

#731192 - 06/20/09 03:39 AM Re: Why are there so many lyric-only folks? [Re: ben willis]  
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Think of music as the alphabet. You only go up to the letter G. A, B, C, D, E, F, G. Everything in between doesn't matter for now. A is doe, B is ray, C is mee, D is fah, E is soh, F is lah, G is tee, and doe is back to A in the next octave. The same note, only higher. I may be wrong, but that's the basics. I yeild to MD. He can explain it better.

Follow Cupcake in the avatar.

#731196 - 06/20/09 04:06 AM Re: Why are there so many lyric-only folks? [Re: Mike Dunbar]  
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WriterTomYeager Offline
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WriterTomYeager  Offline
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Harrisonburg,Virtginia
Mark has confessed to being a Cover Lyricist!

I admire the personal courage that took Mark

and you have indeed raised the bar of what might be considered a shocking confession here in JPF....lets see someone top that!


Tom

#731201 - 06/20/09 04:59 AM Re: Why are there so many lyric-only folks? [Re: WriterTomYeager]  
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tbryson Offline
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tbryson  Offline
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On my block
I know a few of you here from another online board and though I am not great at it I am learning to play guitar because someone on this board asked like Kevin did...Why don't you learn guitar? So I borrowed an cheap electric and relearned G,C,and D...then I got my original Lyle Hummingbird back from my daughter that I tried to learn to play looong ago and just started to add my rudimentry chord progressions to words I had written. That was 1 year ago.Thing is we should stick mostly what we are best at but I'm not great at either. Thats ok. I just got back from listening to a friend play at a coffee house and I know and can play just about every chord he played tonight and with some more time in I will get better. It has helped in one way for writing at this point. I get a melody for my words much quicker and cheaper than a demo service. Is it as quality? Nope. Is it fun? Yep.Is it hard? Very yep.

I can't help but agree with Kevin that I think it would help writers get better...Heck look at all the 3 chord songs there are that are hits and fun to listen to. The only difference between those and mine are in the delivery. Since my lyrics aren't that great any of you good writers out there would really benefit from banging out even 3 chords added to your writing.

#731211 - 06/20/09 07:04 AM Re: Why are there so many lyric-only folks? [Re: tbryson]  
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"Tampa Stan" Good (D) Offline
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"Tampa Stan" Good (D)  Offline
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Tampa, Florida since 1973
HiYa Brother Kev!

Sorry to be Late to The Thread...&..I'm looking forwards to reading Everyone Else's Post when I get some time.

I grew up in a Musical Family, yet I was the kid who never did the Trumpet Lessons Practice & got Kicked-Out after 4 weeks, back in Grade School. Never bothered me UNTIL I hit Age 35 & penned my first Song. Bothered me a LOT when I was 40-50 HOPING to be The Next Big Thing, too. BUT by-then, I knew my way around a Studio..I'd buy Pretzels & Beer, & had Several Bands volunteering to do the Background Stuff. & then, after a lotta Near Misses with Cuts/Contracts/& all the Usual Hoopla, I took a Decade Off..too.

So, come 1999, I got back into the Lyrics Side of things...Again.
Spent 3 years co-ing with Keyboardist from Belinda Womack's Band, Susan Shoshanna-Braun. Co-Bought a $1600 Korg "Karma" Synth..she was mastering ProTools..& all I needed to do was Write Lyrics. DID buy 6 Guitars..3 are really Nice Ones..and a pair of Synths..& more recently, a 24-Channel Analogue Mixing Board...BUT...have yet to learn how to use any of the stuff..BECAUSE..I'm pretty BUSY "Just Penning Lyrics".

And..alas..my Day Job (Clockmaking) so-far HAS paid me far-better than My Music Habit..thus-far. (Tho Lately...the Recession and an Unsold House..or Two..make MUSIC look FAR better than what's So-Far been payin' the bills.)

I've over the years learned HOW to Sing for an Audience..and DO hear The Music behind my Lyrics. I've ALSO learned that a GOOD Musical Collaborator CAN make What I Pen sound BETTER than what I HEAR when I write it. I've also got to know Producers who can take THAT Demo to places NEITHER of us ever Dreamed-Of.

So...yeah, I really SHOULD learn an Instrument..to make things perhaps Easier...BUT..there are only SO Many HOURS In Each DAY..and..Alas..so-far Songs only eat up the Mornings in each of my days. WHEN I've successfully "Retired" from my Day Job..and Un-Loaded the Excess Real Estate..& Misc. Stuff I've accumulated over the last 60 years..I certainly expect to learn an instrument..Finally.

For me, instead of a "Weakness" though, I've ended up mastering Words DUE to my lack of mastering an Instrument. (In a pinch, I can Whistle any part I'm trying to get-across/have actually recorded a few Tracks of Whistling on more'n' a few songs.)

Ol' Elvis..who sold a Billion Records..originally performed, I believe, with a Stringless-Guitar. Not Everybody HAS to know an Instrument to make it in the Music Biz. But yeah, I'll sure agree that It HELPS!

Best Wishes, & as Tampa Chapter Chairman Al "The Pal" Alvarez says: "Keep On Strummin'"!
Big Guy-Hug,
Stan

#731212 - 06/20/09 07:21 AM Re: Why are there so many lyric-only folks? [Re: ]  
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WriterTomYeager Offline
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WriterTomYeager  Offline
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Harrisonburg,Virtginia
for the record-I did learn an instrument....long ago

I played trumpet in elementary school and high school band.....even played some herb alpert stuff cause his music was hot trumpet at the time....

scored 795 out of 800 on the VERBAL part of the SAT for college admission....was often encouraged to be a writer.......finally am...its never too late

Tom

#731218 - 06/20/09 08:33 AM Re: Why are there so many lyric-only folks? [Re: WriterTomYeager]  
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BIG JIM MERRILEES Offline
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Edinburgh, Scotland. UK
The importance of lyrics is debateable. Depends on genre. For example some country songs rely on telling a story and creating imagery. The music almost comes as an afterthought. Some pop songs concentrate on music production and catchy riffs but lyrics are unimportant. These songs consist mainly of the same banal line being repeated ad nauseum.

What is important is to write, perform and produce a quality song that has the necessary hooks etc and is pleasing to the ear regardless of the genre. It hardly matters nowadays who writes the lyrics, who composes the music, sings the melody, plays the instruments and produces the recording.
What is important is a professional attitude to do the best job possible. We are never too old to learn new things and never done learning.

The best people at anything do not have a comfort zone. They will experiment, take chances, move on, move back, learn new skills and never stop learning. That is what makes them the best.

#731243 - 06/20/09 10:39 AM Re: Why are there so many lyric-only folks? [Re: BIG JIM MERRILEES]  
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Everett Adams Offline
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Everett Adams  Offline
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,NL Canada
Then there are people that can play a song having only heard it once or twice, but can not produce anything original. Great musicians, but give them a lyric to create a melody for, they have no idea how to start, but start singing it and they'll pick it up and play right along. My musical ability is very limited, my singing is more so, lyrics would be my strongest asset, but I know enough to create a complete song, not well sung or well played, but well enough to get the song across so a good demo studio can expand on it and dress it up to be presentable for an artist to "get" it, the artist then can make it his own.


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#731267 - 06/20/09 12:49 PM Re: Why are there so many lyric-only folks? [Re: Everett Adams]  
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Kolstad Offline
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Kolstad  Offline
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Denmark
Any answer will do to this question. I have the deepest respect for lyricists that put in all their energy to make the best lyric they can.

If every lyric came with a melody, I would get sick of collaborations and stop doing them, as I then would just feel like a hired hand.

So I for one appreciate the division of work here.

Then it is true that in todays music industry, the most succesful ones are producers. They can write, play, arrange, engineer and produce the full monty.

Music is mostly entertainment, so therefore deep lyrics are not highest in the hirarchy. But if there's just an inch of artistic ambition left, lyrics are really important IMO

So like in any other profession, lyrics are too important to be left over to the lyricists, the same goes for music. I'd say the best songs today are collaborations, where the strengths are fused together, making the result more than it's parts.


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