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#1139147 - 03/29/18 08:24 AM Do You Finish A Song Once You Start ?  
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Barry David Butler Offline
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Barry David Butler  Offline
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My question is do you finish it off or do you have to come back to it?
I sometimes don't come back and finish as I stop liking it.
I have titles and pieces of lyrics all over but only a few get written into a song.
Usually a really good lyric will not let me stop writing it and then I have no choice
So I guess out of every five lyrics or so I may do one into a song.....B

#1139157 - 03/29/18 11:02 AM Re: Do You Finish A Song Once You Start ? [Re: Barry David Butler]  
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Dave Rice Online content
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Hi Barry:

For me, it happens both ways. Sometimes I am firing on all cylinders and can wrap up the entire song, lyric, melody, recording, editing and conversion from WAV to MP3 then get the lyric and chord sheet prepared and ready to file... in one day. Then at other times... it may begin with the germ of a song idea, a title, a phrase, a situation... and I might let it simmer for a day or two, work on it in dribs and drabs from day to day... or even week to week. Above all, I get something on paper because if I don't... I will seldom remember the lyric or melody idea. Most frustrating is when you are asleep and can't force yourself to get up and get it written down.

I don't spend much time worrying about "lost song ideas" because another will eventually come along. There is no set pattern for me. It either happens or it doesn't. The lyric usually comes first but even that is not "cast in stone." Even after I complete a song... I do my best to force myself to listen for a day or two before letting anyone hear it. After listening, I may re-write the whole thing, try another genre, scrap the melody, change the tempo... it happens in whatever way "Mother Nature" tells me to receive her gift. (Many would tell you my songs are not gifts... they are closer to a curse! LOL!)

Then there is the "Interstate Highway Effect." Sometimes I find myself on a monotonous stretch of highway and a "song" begins to form inside my semblance of a brain. I don't normally carry a recorder with me... so forcing myself to stop and write something down is the problem. If my wife is with me, I can plead with her to write down a line or two for me... but that comes with chores being assigned as a form of payment for secretarial services.

I think we've had this discussion before here at JPF... but it's been a while.

Regards, ----Dave

#1139158 - 03/29/18 11:06 AM Re: Do You Finish A Song Once You Start ? [Re: Barry David Butler]  
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Fdemetrio Offline
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Tom Petty once said he finishes a song right away for fear of losing it.

It's happened to me, where I come up with a part of a song, and then feel better once I get it down on something, only to realize later I can't come up with the rest of it. It's like that moment in time has past and it's hard to get it back.

Last edited by Fdemetrio; 03/29/18 11:07 AM.
#1139162 - 03/29/18 12:00 PM Re: Do You Finish A Song Once You Start ? [Re: Dave Rice]  
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Barry David Butler Offline
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My wife and I were visiting DC the day of 9/11 and we were driving that morning to visit the Pentagon. We turned around and heard it on the radio.....On the way back to the Motel I made my wife find something to write on and I think it was a mostly blank page from a magazine she had. I just rattled off the words to my Everyday American Heroes in about ten minutes. I also started keeping a pad and pen next to my bed at night. I've gotten up in the middle of the night to go to my computer with a new idea....It is both a blessing and a curse and that sounds like a good idea for a song.....Songwriting/ A Blessing & A Curse.....oye there it goes again lol.

#1139164 - 03/29/18 01:14 PM Re: Do You Finish A Song Once You Start ? [Re: Barry David Butler]  
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I try to be good to myself and finish a song I've started.- eventually
I don't beat myself up for not "finishing" it.
I will go back and try try try as I feel I do a good job if and when I do. - usually.

#1139165 - 03/29/18 02:22 PM Re: Do You Finish A Song Once You Start ? [Re: Barry David Butler]  
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John Lawrence Schick Offline
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I always finish my tracks. I just twist and turn, go this way and that way, fiddle around, and fiddle around some more until I like it. Sometimes it ends up nowhere close to its initial concept. But I donít stop until I like it. Even if it does take me a whole hour.

John smile

#1139168 - 03/29/18 04:20 PM Re: Do You Finish A Song Once You Start ? [Re: Fdemetrio]  
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Brian Austin Whitney Online content
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Originally Posted by Fdemetrio
Tom Petty once said he finishes a song right away for fear of losing it.

It's happened to me, where I come up with a part of a song, and then feel better once I get it down on something, only to realize later I can't come up with the rest of it. It's like that moment in time has past and it's hard to get it back.


I agree with this... I have thousand and thousands of song bits especially music riffs and chorus hooks, but if the whole song didn't come to me U very rarely ever used those sketch pad bits again. I put some in late last year when we took a break from the awards and realized even the stuff I loved I felt more like someone else had written it and it didn't belong to me much anymore as I was a completely different person then, but oddly the 2000 songs I finished I feel ARE my song because I saw it through, though there was a song I came across fully finished that I had no memory whatsoever of having written and I really liked it but it was like it appeared magically. (and yes, I know that last part was a contradiction) But as we all know, making music is full of contradictions.


Brian Austin Whitney
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#1139169 - 03/29/18 05:23 PM Re: Do You Finish A Song Once You Start ? [Re: Barry David Butler]  
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for me, it depends on how much the song is moving me at the start. If it's something like my "Too Little Time" song, then it writes itself in just about the time it took to get through to the ending. (with some edits later of course, in lyrics mainly). If it's like a more complex song, and as long as I am moved by it, it can take a few days. I never worry about remembering anything, for as I heard Lennon once say, "If the song is not worth remembering when coming up with, (for the next day), why would it be memorable to any listener). So, I just let it go, and see it hits me whenever I come back to it. If not, then it's OUTTA HERE! If it haunts me even in bed later, then I know it has to be completed. Many times, I will complete in in bed through waking up, falling asleep, waking up, etc. Then, whenever I go to track the music, even the bass, drums and guitar playing I heard in my imagination will be easy to duplicate and play right away while recording.

But, some songs that came fast but either had nothing past the first hook or so, and couldn't spring on it the next day or whenever? Trashed!

It either controls me or it is not worth working on.

For the two films and other projects, I would need to keep creating until I or the producer or director said it was done. I like that process as well. Challenges!!!!

Mostly, though, when something hits me, it hits me clear and complete. I'm lucky, in that way. Never take it for granted. I feel so in touch with everything when that happens. Everything but the business of music, that is! HAHA Like most or near all of us, it seems.

John


Actually a Member Since 1996 or 97 (Number One Hundred Something).
Songnado I and II:
http://www.soundclick.com/bands/page_music.cfm?bandID=322686





#1139170 - 03/29/18 05:25 PM Re: Do You Finish A Song Once You Start ? [Re: Barry David Butler]  
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Johnny Daubert Offline
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PS. The Orchestrated piece I had up recently, was all just improve as recording. No writing or working on it. like how a comic will go on and on and seems to make stuff up on the spot, by knowing the general things that could go along with whatever is being talked about. I think most of us could do that in music, if we try, and just let it come as it might.

John


Actually a Member Since 1996 or 97 (Number One Hundred Something).
Songnado I and II:
http://www.soundclick.com/bands/page_music.cfm?bandID=322686





#1139315 - 04/02/18 06:51 PM Re: Do You Finish A Song Once You Start ? [Re: Johnny Daubert]  
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Joe Wrabek Offline
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Both, I guess. I have had songs pop forth full-grown, as it were (I "wrote" one standing in front of the mike in the studio while the sound guy said, "Joe, sing something"), and some have an awfully long gestation period (I had one take three years). In cases like the latter, yes, I will go back to it, now and then, until I consider it finished.

I do not write anything down until it's done, and as perfect as I can get it on my own. And even then, I'll wait until the next day. If I don't remember it the next morning, I consider that it wasn't worth remembering.

Joe

#1139354 - 04/04/18 04:21 AM Re: Do You Finish A Song Once You Start ? [Re: Barry David Butler]  
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TC Perkins Online content
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I always finish a song. Sometimes it takes years but they all get finished sooner or later.

--TC


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

You can hear my tunes at https://soundcloud.com/tc-gypsy
#1139612 - 04/13/18 10:01 AM Re: Do You Finish A Song Once You Start ? [Re: Barry David Butler]  
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E Swartz Online content
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Hi Barry,

I usually do finish a song with merit--certain times of the year I have more time to devote to music/songwriting. If an idea or melody doesn't sound very good to me, I discard it quickly as I don't want to reinforce and even remember that music progression. So I discard a lot of ideas or rough starts. When an idea for me sounds decent fairly quickly, I then play it often or even record the melody roughly just to not lose it. I have no system and sometimes a chorus is written first, other times verses--then it becomes putting the puzzled together. I do 90% of the time have the music written first however. I like to write inspired, so I don't write often, nor write many songs, but once committed to a song, I usually have it in rough form in a few days with melodic foundation, lyrics may then take another few days, sometimes longer. But lyrical tweaking will go on for a while. Now PRODUCTION, that's a different story, a song may be on the shelf for a year or two!

steady-eddie

#1139684 - 04/14/18 09:05 AM Re: Do You Finish A Song Once You Start ? [Re: Barry David Butler]  
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RonnieDean Online content
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I'm currently in the stage where I have a song all done but my vocals are on it so it's not presented in the best light. So to keep myself amused I tweak n listen.

Now it's starting to annoy me.

#1139685 - 04/14/18 09:41 AM Re: Do You Finish A Song Once You Start ? [Re: RonnieDean]  
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Barry David Butler Offline
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Mostly once I'm on it I finish it.....Once I'm done I'm done and move on.

#1139690 - 04/14/18 10:41 AM Re: Do You Finish A Song Once You Start ? [Re: Barry David Butler]  
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Since in the vast majority of my co-writes, I am TEACHING the process, character development, melody composition, avoiding second verse hell, twist on the tale, rope of hope, keeping a tight time frame, visual elements of writing, finding grooves and feels, detail focus, etc. as well as the ART Of CO-WRITING, and doing things within a tight time frame, I almost always finish anything I do within an hour- an hour and a half.

But that doesn't mean it's FINISHED. Great songs are not WRITTEN they are RE-WRITTEN. The idea, is that I get the "Heavy loading" done up front, and then pass it on to the other writer(s) to refine, adapt, re-write, fine tune, and get the "next steps" done. They are expected to go work on it at their own level, get critiques, refine what we've done and then get back to me with results and I'll do the same. Sort of a marathon relay race.

This is a process that most Nashville writing teams employ. They will get together, work on a song, usually getting a majority done, and then get off on their own and work on fine tuning. Then they usually get BACK together and see where they all are on the process. Sometimes you'll get alternative phrases, verses, melodies, etc. that all go into the song. Sometimes you'll take "One from column A", "One from Column "B", etc. as different people have different takes on the subject matter.

It is always advisable to at least shoot for a verse and chorus pattern and NEVER EVER EVER EVER leave a writing appointment without a copy of the lyrics or a voice work tape. (phones are great for this). That way if you don't get it all finished, you at least have a ROAD MAP to work on your own.

Most of the Nashville hit teams will get back together, finish that song and then move on to another one, which is why you most often see the same names over and over on certain artists projects as they have written a lot of songs over multiple writing appointments. Ups your overall level and catalog.

Personally, I tend to hit my target about 90% of the time and there is less and less re-writing involved. But when you hit those 3000-3500 numbers you really should know what you are doing. The process is always re-defining itself and each song is going to be different. Just always try to up the level of your odds. The more you do it, the better you do it.

MAB

#1139714 - 04/14/18 01:40 PM Re: Do You Finish A Song Once You Start ? [Re: Barry David Butler]  
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Second verse hell, yeah that's a real thing now isn't it.

#1139723 - 04/14/18 04:21 PM Re: Do You Finish A Song Once You Start ? [Re: Barry David Butler]  
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You bet. One of the hardest. You have to know where you are going in order to know how to get there. Most people get so bogged down by the first verse and chorus and don't know where to go, or write and write and write, and come up with a half dozen verses, either saying the exact same thing over and over again or going way outside the lines and write things that are so off subject they don't even connect to the original premise of the song. Finding a tight, easy way that makes sense, advances the story line, is easily followable by the listener, yet doesn't give too much away too soon is an art into itself. Just like directing a movie. But you have to be able to see the big picture, and keep the audience interested.

MAB

Last edited by Marc Barnette; 04/14/18 04:23 PM.
#1139729 - 04/14/18 06:17 PM Re: Do You Finish A Song Once You Start ? [Re: Barry David Butler]  
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When I started doing country and noticed there wasn't 3rd verses like in rock I was like pfft. this is gonna be (No it isn't, Ron).

#1139745 - 04/14/18 11:44 PM Re: Do You Finish A Song Once You Start ? [Re: Barry David Butler]  
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I have every intention of finishing them. I keep the bits and pieces in a couple of small books hoping to get at them. It does seem that if I don't finish them right away, they get lost. I am in no way as prolific a writer as the company here. I'd like to try this team writing of which ye speak.

#1139756 - 04/15/18 10:30 AM Re: Do You Finish A Song Once You Start ? [Re: Barry David Butler]  
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None of my songs have made it to the radio and become a hit. None ever will.
None have even been published or cut. (I don't count)

If a song makes it to the radio and becomes fairly well known...to me....a case could be made that it was committed and finished. As for any song that I've written...all are subject to a tweak, change, or complete re-vamp.

All of my songs are trees that fell in the forest, which hardly anyone heard. I see no point in ever considering them finished. And all of them could be made better in some way or just changed to gain a new look. Like a woman trying on a different dress, shoes and make-up.

Some of my songs could be made much better.

#1139761 - 04/15/18 11:26 AM Re: Do You Finish A Song Once You Start ? [Re: Barry David Butler]  
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Songs also have to leave room for a listener to plug himself or herself into it too.

People writing for Nashville have to try to paint an exact picture, so that nothing is left to the imagination.

But the greatest songs of all time are ambiguous.

I can't get no satisfaction..... Simple, yet great rock pop song, but what type of satisfaction is he singing about? It's vague enough to apply to many lifestyles

Hotel California, every person who hears that could get a different feeling from it, and, you could get a different feeling from it listening to it at different times.

A song may make you depressed one week, then happy another

. It's hard to write without a target, but many many songs I love, are not cut and dry, and I don't understand exactly what is being said, either cause I can't hear the words, or I don't understand the meaning.

Either way, they speak to me.







Last edited by Fdemetrio; 04/15/18 11:28 AM.
#1139776 - 04/15/18 03:27 PM Re: Do You Finish A Song Once You Start ? [Re: Barry David Butler]  
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Marc Barnette Offline
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Marc Barnette  Offline
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Joined: Jan 2009
Posts: 4,950
Nashville, Tn.
It has to do with the genre of music. And the goal of the writer. In mostly country music, it has always been plain spoken, story telling format that doesn't leave the listener guessing at what is going on. You know. It is not the listeners job to decide what the song is about.

Rock, pop and alternative, are more open to interpretation. And it would also depend on the desire of the listener. I have never cared for obtruse songs that I had to figure out what they were. Just has no interest to me. Never why I listened to music. To me, those were only there for me to change the channel on. The hardest part is finding a different way to say something we've all heard a million times before. Since we all live the same experiences, to me, that is the challenge.

But in this day and age if people listen to 30 seconds of your song, you are doing good. If you can get them to put the cell phone down, you are doing well. Music is no longer in the FOREFRONT of our lives. It is in the BACKGROUND of our lives. So the more obscure things are, the faster people tend to tune out on to something else.

Each person is going to have to find their own pathway, in both creating and listening. Different strokes for different folks.

MAB

#1139872 - 04/19/18 02:05 AM Re: Do You Finish A Song Once You Start ? [Re: Barry David Butler]  
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Posts: 261
Fdemetrio Offline
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Fdemetrio  Offline
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Joined: Oct 2017
Posts: 261
I agree Marc, that's the basic difference between genres with lyrics.

But, I don't think most artists are "trying" to make people figure out the meaning of their songs, I think it's just them writing what they feel compelled to write. there is such a thing as being "too on the nose"
There is no law that says a song has to mean anything, or even make sense either

It's hard to write a song about many things at the same time, it's much easier writing by numbers.

Most art is open to interpretation. Put 100 people in a room and have them look at a painting or piece of art, and all of them may have a different take on what it means.

I guess there is songwriting, and then there is art. Songwriters in Nashville write for the market, or any songwriter trying to get cuts, artists make art.

Last edited by Fdemetrio; 04/19/18 02:16 AM.

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