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The Nameless Untold

Music first lyric writing?

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I usually write my lyrics first. Sometimes they come with a melody sometimes I just let the rhythm of the words create it.

How ever, I am currently trying my hand at a collaboration and the music has been written.

When the music has a melody of it's own, Do you use it for your lyrics? Or do you want the lyrics to have its own complimenting melody.

If the later, how do you keep the musics melody separate in you mind while writing the lyrics?

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When the music has a melody of it's own, Do you use it for your lyrics?

Well, that's what it's for, isn't it?

Why would you bother to write another?

It looks like you've fired your collaborator.

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Well, that's what it's for, isn't it?

Why would you bother to write another?

I would not have asked if I knew the answer to that.

So you answer is "yes, use the the musics melody" You could have just said that.

I am just trying to learn something new. Some songs seem to use music to compliment the vocal melodies and some don't.

Given this is the first time I have tried it this way I just wanted some advice.

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This is my opinion. Every "musical" instrument in an arrangement plays a melody. In a song having vocals, the lead vocal melody will essentially become the primary melody in the arrangement unless it's a part of the arrangement when some "lead instrument" takes center stage. Though there are exceptions, that primary vocal melody is typically complimentary to the secondary melodies in the arrangement from the various instruments. How do you come up with a cool vocal melody to pre-existing music? Being a musician, knowing theory, knowing how to play a lead instrument, knowing how to sing - these all help ultimate decisions. But, it's still just one of many creative decisions in the songwriting process, and like all such decisions, I think it boils down down to imagination confirmed by trial and error - try this, then try that, and judge what you hear. smile.gif

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This is my opinion. Every "musical" instrument in an arrangement plays a melody. In a song having vocals, the lead vocal melody will essentially become the primary melody in the arrangement unless it's a part of the arrangement when some "lead instrument" takes center stage. Though there are exceptions, that primary vocal melody is typically complimentary to the secondary melodies in the arrangement from the various instruments. How do you come up with a cool vocal melody to pre-existing music? Being a musician, knowing theory, knowing how to play a lead instrument, knowing how to sing - these all help ultimate decisions. But, it's still just one of many creative decisions in the songwriting process, and like all such decisions, I think it boils down down to imagination confirmed by trial and error - try this, then try that, and judge what you hear. smile.gif

Okay, I guess that is what I am doing, and it is starting to sound better. I suppose I should've asked what your process is or how you approach music that is per-existing. Are there thing that you do to help you find where your lyric should be in the arrangement or do you just go where the music takes you?

How do you come up with a cool vocal melody to pre-existing music? Being a musician, knowing theory, knowing how to play a lead instrument, knowing how to sing smile.gif

Well, Crap I'm 0 for 4. :D

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I think you need to clarify your question? When you say "melody" do you mean the actual notes that the words are sung to? If so, Lazz's reply is the correct one. Or do you mean that there is simply music: background chords, song form and structure, but no actual melody?

N

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I think you need to clarify your question? When you say "melody" do you mean the actual notes that the words are sung to? If so, Lazz's reply is the correct one. Or do you mean that there is simply music: background chords, song form and structure, but no actual melody?

N

The later is what I usually work with because I typically have at least a rhythm in mind when writing lyrics if not a full melody. So I will build music around that.

This is a different situation though. There are notes being played that at points make me want to sing my lyrics along with them, and in some points not so much. So what I was trying to figure out is, if I should just rewrite my lyrics conform to the music. Which is what it sounds like I should do, and the more I have played around with it seems to be where I am going with it.

But for the future, I am just I am trying to get inside the mind of someone who writes their music first. If your music has a lead instrument that adds an element to the song that would allow said music to stand alone as an instrumental, should the lyrics being added to it then be sung to those notes? Or is it possible that the lead instrument playing those notes can be used to complement the a different melody being sung. If it is possible, is it recommended in any situation?

Sorry if I am not using correct terminology this is all very new to me. This is best way I know how to ask what I am asking.

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I would not have asked if I knew the answer to that.

So you answer is "yes, use the the musics melody" You could have just said that.

I am just trying to learn something new. Some songs seem to use music to compliment the vocal melodies and some don't.

Given this is the first time I have tried it this way I just wanted some advice.

Ah well, when you put it like that, it does make me a brute.

It just seemed a really odd question to me.

Sorry.

But I see I may have simply got the wrong end of your schtick.

My own lyrics are most often written for the music of collaborators. So I do a lot of what you’re attempting for the first time, and perhaps take many things for granted that I shouldn’t – maybe like presuming a shared understanding of words like “music” and “melody”.

In my life, when a collaborator passes “music” over to me, it comes complete and already made with the three fundamental ingredients of melody, harmony and rhythm. So it then becomes my responsibility and obligation to work to that melody which I have been given. Under the established and taken-for-granted composer/lyricist division of labour, it ain’t my job to go messin’ with the melody.

That’s what I presumed for you from your statement that “the music has been written”.

On a small handful of gigs with one particular geezer, however, he would pound his piano while I recorded, so that I could end up with what to all practical purposes would be backing tracks – but just with piano. It would then be my job to make the structured shape of harmony and groove more musically complete by adding a melody as well as the verbals. Given your answer to Neal’s question, and my discovery that you are working with GarageBand, I now figure this is much closer to what you’re talking about – your “music” is groove backings which require melody in order to be made whole – Right?

I really enjoyed my own opportunity to work to backings in that way because it was such a lot of plain natural fun, just going wherever the sounds insisted and singing whatever notes felt right at the time with whatever nonsense sounds and word shapes that felt intuitively the most appropriate.

“Feel” is for me the most important engine for this method.

How do you come up with a cool vocal melody to pre-existing music? Being a musician, knowing theory, knowing how to play a lead instrument, knowing how to sing

I think knowing how to play and sing, and having theory together, can definitely help us become better at being musicians. But, judging from “Walk With You”, I have to agree with GoldenBlue that you start out with the huge advantage of having loads of naturals and easy riches in the crucial feel department.

Probably the result of years of important listening.

Making music makes you a musician. And you have a voice that can sing. Just like the rest of our planetary population.

So you score on 2 out of Hobo’s 4. Not zero. The other 2 you can pick up whenever you feel motivated by the desire.

I suppose I should've asked what your process is or how you approach music that is per-existing. Are there thing that you do to help you find where your lyric should be in the arrangement or do you just go where the music takes you?

Going where the music takes you is right for me.

Choosing to head in any other direction would seem pointlessly perverse.

The way of using it that I sketched a few paragraphs previously is actually a well-established tradition known by song-writers in France and Brasil as “Making A Monster”. Kids today mixing dance music with “beats” work the same way when they bring in what they call a “top-line” singer (the “top-line” being the melody) who can respond to what they’ve put down by improvising genre-appropriate words and melody from the track’s inspiration.

With notes grown direct as natural expression from the musical context, melody has a great chance of being heard as right and appropriate. Articulating that melodic line by singing along joyously with whatever sounds and word-shapes describe its contours most effectively and without interference then provides us with a rough map of what our lyric should best sound like. And gradually the right words will conjure themselves out of the mist to say something meaningful. That’s why it was christened “Making A Monster” – because it assumes its own responsibility in establishing an identity.

I suspect you’re probably doing this in your own way already –there aren’t really any rules at all about it – just a bunch of considerations to be thinking about.

But if it feels right, then it is right.

What I’ve heard from you feels right.

My condolences in being flooded out.

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Lazz,

Thank you this is just what I was looking for. I am also sorry I got testy.

I have been working on the song and have really just been doing what you are describing. Going with what feels right. I think it is starting to come along nicely.

You are absolutely right I work out songs by feel, and since your first comment (hard to read though it may have been) I have returned to that method and let the music mold my lyrics to it.

Thank you for the kind words about Walk with You. It is by far my favorite of any of my songs.

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I suppose I should've asked what your process is or how you approach music that is per-existing. Are there thing that you do to help you find where your lyric should be in the arrangement or do you just go where the music takes you?

FWIW, I never write a lyric (i.e. I don't come up with the specific words) without either singing them to music (even if it's just "music" I hear in a drum track) or without at least having an idea of the vocal melody I want to sing to an existing section of music. I sing to the music, and so the music determines not only the vocal melody, but also determines the prosody/rhythm/flow of how I want to sing the vocal melody, and all that ultimately determines the specific words and phrases I'll use as the lyric. I don't start with a lyric first - maybe I'll have a theme or a hook phrase in mind, but I never really know what any given song of mine is going to be about and how I'm going to convey that until I have something of the music, and have something of a vocal melody in mind and an idea of how I want to sing to that section of music. I never try to come up with music or a vocal melody to work with words I want to sing. For me, nothing is more important than how the musical arrangement of a song sounds - how it's sung included. That's what inspires and guides me. Since I'm a musician and I also sing and arrange my own stuff, there's a lot of cross-influencing naturally occurring throughout my songwriting process. But, I always start with something musical - always. But, that's just me. Others do it differently.

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FWIW what is this?

So, the sound is far more important to you that the message the lyrics deliver?

I have a hard time coming at a song from that angle. I need some bit of inspiration to get the creative process going and that typically comes form something going on in my life. most of my songs have a specific reason behind them and it sometime makes it difficult to craft the lyric to the music. For me the words a just as important as the music and sometimes more important. When I have a lyric I really like it can be difficult to cut it when the music call for it to be cut. Which is probably what lead me to seek advice here. I was trying to force to many words into the song. while this process has been difficult I it sure is making me come up with better ways to say what I want to say with out taking away from the music.

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FWIW = For What It's Worth

I have no luck writing lyrics to music either. Lyrics always come first for me, although sometimes I will develop the music right after/almost the same time, but that is rare, usually when I'm rewriting something.

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So, the sound is far more important to you that the message the lyrics deliver?

Obviously, I am unqualified to speak on HoboSage's behalf - but sound is the very core of the Making a Monster writing method.

First we establish the right sound we need that's right for expressing each individual note of our melody.

Then we search for words which express those sounds we want.

Then we find a way to create some sense from those words

That's how it works for me.

Even when I am not making a monster but instead writing to a collaborator's finished melody - as is my normal practice - I work the HoboSage route and sing it, getting cosy and familiar with it, and finding once again the right sounds for each of the notes. What we definitely don't want, in my neck of the songwriting neighbourhood, are the wrong sounds, those which fail to serve the melody properly and which consequently detract and distract from it. For me, as a dude who works solely as a lyricist, the melody has absolute priority for two reasons: 1) because it is always melody which makes a song memorable, and 2) because of the way I hear songs.

When I am listening, it is the overall sound of the music which causes me to pay attention. I don't hear the words much at all. If the music makes that connection with me, I will want to repeat the experience and hear it again. And again. Gradually, I find, the words will start to filter through to my consciousness and I will begin to hear them. What I definitely don't want to hear are words that are clumsy or dumb or cringe-worthy or in any way an embarrassment to the sound of the music which first spoke to me. I don't like that. It upsets me badly when I run into the pointless waste of a good tune due to thoughtlessly crap verbals. It does happen. So my own personal listening experience shapes the way I write. I want the lyric to serve and carry the melody. Not to become an obstacle to its effectiveness. And on those occasions when I hand a finished lyric over to a collaborator for them to compose its musical setting, I know they will be reciprocally respectful in constructing music and melody that serve the lyric appropriately in the same way.

But it's the melody that people remember.

That's how I go about my business, anyway.

Mind you - I don't do rock and roll or folk-ballad styles - that's just not where my heart is.

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So, the sound is far more important to you that the message the lyrics deliver?

Obviously, I am unqualified to speak on HoboSage's behalf - but sound is the very core of the Making a Monster writing method.

First we establish the right sound we need that's right for expressing each individual note of our melody.

Then we search for words which express those sounds we want.

Then we find a way to create some sense from those words

That's how it works for me.

This would make sense out of all those really cool songs that I just can't figure out what they are about. This frustrates me.

However, I do a lot of what you are describing except in reverse order. I don't often listen to a song the way you do. For me it is the words that hook me along with a good melody, but it does not have to be a great melody if there are great lyrics. I can hear a song with great sound and be disappointed if the words don't give me something to relate to. there are very few bands that can win me over on sound alone. There are a few though. Pink Floyd is a perfect example for me as what you just described. They are one band that I don't care what the song is about when I listen to them. I understand what you are saying though it is the way my wife listens to music. Today being a perfect example, I had her listen to part of the song I am working on where I had changed the lyrics from "I feel the wonder of it all and my worries seem so small" to "feeling the wonder of it all. How did my worries become so small". I wanted to find out which way she thought was better. She did not hear a difference until I told her that I had changed the words. So I guess musically the they both fit equally well. But poetically, I feel the later has more feeling attached to it, and feeling, that is what am after when I write.

Don't get me wrong I really want that feeling to sound great. I never would have joined this board if I did not care about the sound of the song. hopefully as I continue learning I will find that prefect balance of feeling and sound.

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Not that I'm professional in any sense...

I use three 'methods':

1. lyrics first. I do this when there is no song or chord progression yet. But I always have a tune in my mind that is - more or less - dictated by the words' flow. Basically this is writing poetry with a song in mind and with a song-like structure (repeated chorus, maybe a part that can serve as bridge etc.)

2. tune first. I do this when I write for other people. I have them either sing some nonsense on top of their backing track or put in a Midi track that sticks out so I can identify the 'vocal line'. I also ask them to point out the song structure, i.e. giving the time marks for verses, chorus, etc. - saves time for me ;-) Then I usually write some matching nonsense text - or write down the singer's words - that I step by step replace with meaningful words.

3. chord progression first. I only do this for my own songs. Twice I tried topline-writing with other partners but both songs were rejected. Normally, the singer should do the topline writing himself. I am not a musician or singer, I could only provide rough guides as to how I interpret their track.

Those of my lyrics that actually generate royalties (little enough) have all been written after the second fashion. Although there are heaps of songs that use my lyrics, but they have all been written and publish by hobby musicians. So writing words for existing tunes seems to be my 'road to success' ...

Good luck!

Bernd

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I had also always written lyrics first but have recently started to submit lyrics where a musician has created the music and has asked for help with the lyrics.

I think starting with the lyrics clearly gives the writer greater freedom and that would still be my personal preference.

However, working to a piece of music has also been fun. I see it as a challenge, to try to fit something meaningful and that will sound good when you're kind of operating in a straightjacket. I find that it takes me MUCH longer to create lyrics using this approach though. I usually listen to the song countless times, make notes around the song structure and then section by section start to experiment with creating lines that match the beats of the music. One similarity between both categories of lyric writing, though, is that I need an initial idea to focus upon

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I have written songs a bunch of different ways.

Sometimes I come up with the lyrics first and write music for the lyrics (Sadie MasterKiss).

Other times, I come up with some music with a very vague idea (or no idea at all, lol) of how the vocals would go (You are my Destiny). I envisioned a theme for the tune but no words initially.

My last song (Turn Around) was almost a lockstep of music and lyrics at the same time for the first verse/chorus, then I developed the lyrics for the other verses around the style/vibe I developed for the first one.

Regardless of how the song starts out, I find that the process is iterative for me. I go back and forth between the elements until they come together into a cohesive tune (I hope!).

In rare cases, I have dreamed the tune (Mind's Eye). It probably is not exactly what I dreamed but it certainly got the ball rolling!

I am sure it's different to some degree for everyone but I would bet that most people find the process iterative as they try to pull the song together (lyrics/melody/harmony/arrangement/etc.).

The only rule is there are no rules! B)

Peace,

TC

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This is probably a dead topic by now, but it's one of my favorites (not to say that any dead topic is a good topic, or vice versa).

The process of words-to-music stretches very different muscles than lyrics-to-music. Writing lyrics first gives you a lot of freedom -- but paradoxically, allows you to settle into patterns. You wind up reaching for similar word patterns, rhyme schemes, verse structures and so on. Also it gives you a little power over the composer (who, frankly, works much harder spending hours laying down the tracks than you ever will with your mighty pen and paper). You can half-dictate the melody or even the rhythm. (One of the reasons I admire Arthur Sullivan is that W. S. Gilbert's verse all sounds remarkably repetitious, and Sullivan found endless variations to compose).

But when someone hands you a melody, or even a finished track, you cannot grab your usual box of tools. The rhythm might be unusual, irregular; the number of syllables varying; the mood of the piece not your usual shade. You have to stretch.

It helps if you understand music a little bit, at least be able to count beats to a measure. The first thing I do is listen to the piece and pick out how long the intro is, where the verse starts and stops, where the chorus is, whether there is a bridge, etc. Takes a few listens to pick that out, and I jot down each section with 0:00 - 0:17 intro, 0:18 - 1:00 verse 1, etc. You then need to map out each section (how many syllables in line 1, in line 2, etc.)

The hardest thing is to figure out what the song is about. Coming up with a title and subject and/or hook. That can take forever. But you have to come up with lyrics that fit *that* melody.

Hard as it is, my experience is that you will write things you didn't think you would write, or were capable of writing. It forces you into different parts of your brain and heart. It makes you a better songwriter. So I hope you are picking up this music and spending some time getting to know it.

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Writing lyrics first gives you a lot of freedom

I think starting with the lyrics clearly gives the writer greater freedom and that would still be my personal preference.

I agree 100% - starting with lyrics first gives you the most freedom as a "writer" . . . of the lyric. But, the converse is also true. Starting with something of a musical arrangement and vocal melody without regard to specific words and phrases gives you much more freedom coming up with those. For me personally, having that freedom at maximum potential when starting a song is more important. Rarely am I at a loss for words - they're always there rattling around my mind - and I never seem to have that much difficulty coming up with a lyric once I have some music and an idea of how I want to sing a melody to that music. In contrast, finding a killer riff, a sweet chord progression, a cool rhythm, etc, is, for me, like making a special discovery - a discovery of the right sounds for a song - sounds that come from musical instruments (including my voice and digital tech) and aren't accessible to me by mere reflection like words which are part of my vocabulary are - and I'm never confident that I'll find the next sounds in instruments that I think are good enough for my next song. smile.gif

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Actually the 'restriction' when you write to music is not that much different from writing the second verse after the first, i.e. once you've decided on a meter.

Just a thought...

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Just to chime in my own vibe, and speaking as someone who pretty much never collaborates (and so, in that sense a limited perspective given the situation you describe) personally I tend to write the lyrics last, after everything else.  This includes the vocal melody and rhythms, which I tend to call 'writing the vocals' (as opposed to writing the lyrics).

This was never a deliberate decision but always just more of a way I fell into naturally.  I'd say that's important to begin with - explore different methods absolutely but still fall into whichever of them you work best to.  Personal suiting is definitely an advantage in this respect.  If you wish to collaborate and write lyrics first, I'm sure there are plenty of music-writers out there who like to fit music to lyrics.  So if that is your way, there'll definitely be people to match it with.

Here's my method:

I'll begin with doodling about on an instrument, either from the get-go or out of playing through something else giving me an idea to go off on a tangeant with.  This'll form a base idea, usually a few riffs or maybe a chord structure or even something simpler like just a notion to fit a riff to.  Whatever it is it'll be the seed of what'll develop eventually into a song.  From there I'll gradually do that development as the moods take me, but fairly soon along the way I'll want something to call it so I'll come up with a title.  Usually this is entirely based on random instinct at the time, along with the music - sometimes it'll change but often it won't.  After that I'll probably start singing to it, gibberish words (la la la, doobie doo, whatever works).  From out of this experimentation will emerge particular vocal sounds that end up desireable, which I'll probably reflect with actual words but ones that don't necessarily make any sense whatsoever (this usually centers around the chorus and hook, with the verses coming in a lot later).  After that, to that, I'll try to finally fit actual lyrics that do mean something, but still attempt to retain the particular vocal sounds that I came up with in a more instrument-oriented manner, where possible.  There are fuzzy importances at play here - I could let one thing go in order to maximize another, and it's all a matter of judgement.  I generally prefer to hone instinct over calculation during this, feeling what feels right rather than thinking about what thinks right.

After that I'll have a title and basic lyrics to it, and that's when I switch to a more calculative mindset and scrutinize it all.  I'll usually have something overcomplicated whose various themes can be eliminated and shelved for other songs, pared down to a core thing that overwhelmed.  Rhythms get messed around with sometimes, and I'll also here play around with the song structure and see if I can't throw a few pieces of it backwards or forwards, repeat or reduce repetition, and come up with a more solid map for it all to occupy.  It's only after all of this that I plonk something up on a website, in order to get the opinions of others on; I want to know I've gone at least that far with it so I'm not just wasting their time (and probably mine too).

One thing I find is a worthy investment with this method is the necessary trust it requires that your music comes from your feelings which mean something even if you can't tell what they mean to begin with.  It's a bit of a leap of faith in that way but it tends to work out well, from my findings.  I'm often figuring out what I meant by the song, long into the process of refining it.

What could screw with some people attempting a similar method though is that it does also require a very time-nondependant approach.  You can't do this and have deadlines to meet, realistically.  What you'll want to do if this is your bag, is to have spent decades of your life (as I have) casually building up an absolute ton of material.  From that already-attained starting point, deadlines could be more handlable.  Without it, this method isn't gonna work for your release dates or your publisher demands since that's it's third essential requirement - the ability to let things flow and emerge organically, with no pressure but the simple drive of creativity.  Every way of doing things is going to have its advantages and disadvantages.  This is how I am a very good songwriter with absolutely none of what people typically class as success (although to my mind, success is making art, and selling art is just largely luck-based icing, although I could be a little cynical in that viewpoint clouded necessarily as it will be by my method of songwriting).

I hope that's interesting to people.  I think the way I do things is fairly unusual, and most folk seem to begin with the lyrics.  To me, it's a process my mind can't bring itself to picture, too alien to what I'm used to - and kinda fascinating, for it.  So I thought my way could be too, to others.  :)

Great subject btw.  :)

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I think this was a good question, one that I have asked myself. Considering I am an amateur , I wondered should I write the music for the Lyrics or the Lyrics for the music. The conclusion I came to was ( BOTH). Most of what I attempt is a combination. I,m inspired by a short Lyric , put it to music then create everything else around it. I think I am in the same position at this very moment. I am collaborating with someone who supplied the music. He asked me to create the lyrics. He placed verbal syllables ( DA-DA, do-do. 0h -o etc) to give me some idea. From what he supplied I hear words and am building a foundation based on the feeling the song is giving me.  Once again I am an amature but according to some web reading some of the best writers use the mixed approach. 

I would be interested to hear the final product of your collaboration  and your experiences with it.

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On 12/13/2017 at 19:49, BcCaster said:

I think this was a good question, one that I have asked myself. Considering I am an amateur , I wondered should I write the music for the Lyrics or the Lyrics for the music. The conclusion I came to was ( BOTH). Most of what I attempt is a combination. I,m inspired by a short Lyric , put it to music then create everything else around it. I think I am in the same position at this very moment. I am collaborating with someone who supplied the music. He asked me to create the lyrics. He placed verbal syllables ( DA-DA, do-do. 0h -o etc) to give me some idea. From what he supplied I hear words and am building a foundation based on the feeling the song is giving me.  Once again I am an amature but according to some web reading some of the best writers use the mixed approach. 

I would be interested to hear the final product of your collaboration  and your experiences with it.

Sorry I didn't see this sooner. I had to reload the song on too my Soundcloud account as both my collaborator and I have moved on to other works. This is the finished product. FWIW, I really have grown to dislike this song. probably because we spent way to much time on it and by the time it was done I was sick of it. It is one of my most difficult songs to listen too. We ended up bringing in a new vocalist. I think she did a good job I just had grown so tried of it that By the time she came in to it John and I were about done with the song.

Celebrate the day

 

 

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Nameless,

 

Here's what I do, and I'd say I do it this way 99% of the time. Below is my very first draft of a song called Bourbon Street, this is before it became Bourbon street. It's just me recording the chords and the melody with nonsense words. (The sizzling noise in the background is the frying pan, not unusual for me to get song ideas when I cook, much to my wife's delight since that also might lead to me burning whatever it is I'm cooking!?!) :P

 

After this is done. I then sit down and put words to it, trying to preserve as much as I possible can of the melody. Again, this is how I do it 99% of the time.

 

Oh, and I take no responsibility for the words I sing, I simply have no idea where they come from!!! :D

 

Not entirely sure this is what you asked for, but I at least thought I'd throw this out there so you can see it more clearly from a different perspective. (music/melody first, lyrics second.)

 

/Peter

 

First draft:

 

 

Final:

 

 

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After this is done. I then sit down and put words to it, trying to preserve as much as I possible can of the melody. Again, this is how I do it 99% of the time.

Ditto !

Although the early portion of my creative process does vary, that above statement accurately describes how I go about writing lyrics.

By the time I reach this point in the process, I may have a rough idea of what I want...lyrical concept (theme), tentative hook, or several lines of lyric.

But in a nutshell, that's it :) 

 

Tom

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2 hours ago, tunesmithth said:

Ditto !

Although the early portion of my creative process does vary, that above statement accurately describes how I go about writing lyrics.

By the time I reach this point in the process, I may have a rough idea of what I want...lyrical concept (theme), tentative hook, or several lines of lyric.

But in a nutshell, that's it :) 

 

Tom

Yup!

 

Me too!

 

Mostly, anyway. I HAVE written lyrics first but I'm never quite as happy with the outcome.

 

(By the way, that is VERY cool, Mr S :))

 

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I'll tell you how I do it. I have collaborated on a TON of songs...and one or more of the methods I speak of ALWAYS comes into play when I do. Like you...sometimes I will write lyrics to a melody I hear in my head...sometimes not...but I write better when there is a melody of some kind. With that being said...I write my best from scratch when there is music that has already been created...as long as the arrangement of the music gives enough room to get a verse in...then a chorus...and so on. If I write lyrics to my own melody...that I heard in my head...as good as it may turn out...there will be lots of scenarios where the lyrics must be edited if I decide to partner them with someone else's music that has already been created. A lyric writers greatest asset is their willingness to do this...IF you want to collaborate more than not. This applies to musicians as well. Passing on a great collaboration opportunity because your lyrics don't match the melody of a suitable and great piece of music...when they can be edited...and work...will only leave you with words on paper in most instances...unless of course you have the means, skill and equipment to do the music yourself...be it by using loops you have a license and right to use...REAL instruments that you play yourself...or both. 

 

Most great songs resulting from a collaboration are a compromise that takes place between the author of the lyrics and the composer of the music. Sometimes only the lyrics require editing...sometimes only the music...and even both in many instances.

 

There are times when lyrics I wrote to a melody in my head end up sounding exactly as I heard it in my head once a song is finished...and there are times when they end up being applied to a totally different melody than what I heard...but end up being better than I could have imagined. It all comes down to deciding if you want to be a co-writer of a great song...or if you're just fine with staring at the words you have written as the ink begins to fade.

 

Good luck to you whichever path you decide to take :)

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I often start with drums - cobbling together the bulk of a complete drum arrangement for an entire song before doing anything "musical" with a sound or instrument. 

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For what it's worth, and I doubt that is a lot, I think I am typical of many on here, or at least it seems. I start with a chord progression, either on guitar or on piano and come up with a loose melody just by humming, singing nonsense. This is probably 90% of the time. The other 10% of the time is the occasions I hear a melody in my head and head to the piano to try and get it out my head, which very rarely results in something usable. 

 

I write this straight after I have managed to get 30mins pulling the bones of something together (time to write is a very scarce resource for me atm) and it might be my entry for the March contest or it might just be an idea that doesn't go anywhere. We will see, it is called Death and Taxes, so funny calling it out here before it is even a song, will be interesting to see if I actually do manage to post it next week.

 

I came up with the chord progression and melody idea a few weeks ago and have been humming it in my head for a while. For whatever reason today something clicked and I came up with a chorus lyric. So hence why I sat down and started work on it tonight. 

 

My next stage is to then record a 'template' which is usually just rough piano and a basic drum loop and I record the whole song (no words) and arrange it so that I have a finished structure with bridge and everything. From there I start at the beginning with drums, bass, other instruments etc. Until I have a 90% completed track that will sit there until I find lyrics for before I finish. This last bit is always a struggle and I have a few songs still without lyrics. This one today is different, I have a chorus and I have a feeling I can finish this one.

 

I can only write lyrics to music, I have tried the lyrics first approach and that just doesn't work for me at all. I am not a great collaborator for that reason really, I think I got really lucky with Kuya in the Collab contest because we have managed to make it work with some great lyrics he sent me, but that really is a one-off I think, a good bit of luck that I could do something with his words. I think we have written a really great song to be honest, I am quite excited by it. 

 

 

 

 

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It's rare that I've ever come up with music for a completed lyric. I once wrote a melody for a lyric by Missy long ago called "All That I Dont Got" that is on my https://soundclick.com/jimcanrock site. It was a country cross over genre that she wrote and was sharing with me on the Muse chatter back in 2001. It had some nice lines and a bridge or pre chorus that seemed to give ample room to branch out melodically and just had this "feel". I ended up writing a third verse along with tweaking a line or too and ended up recording it on my 16 track. Again, this was just a rare one off.

 

I've read a couple really good lyrics in past years at the lyric feedback section, but none were my genre or did I feel compelled to pick up my acoustic like I did with Missy's lyric. Music is the main premise of writing for me and the lyrics are just something that go along for the ride. The challenge is finding the subject matter to fit the mood of the music. Granted I will write down a phrase or take note of an interesting subject to maybe use later in a song. I have nothing full blown lyrically waiting for a melody. It's just an odd way to approach writing a song if I wrote lyrics first. Though Im sure it's more common in country music than any other genre.

 

   Usually as Im coming up with a melody while sometimes playing along with my drum machine, I start trying out lines semi-verbally if I have an idea subject wise where it's going. A line here, a phrase there as I develop the chorus or other changes. By the time I start programming drum patterns for the song, I have maybe close to a verse and a chorus done.

   Again,I have a number of melodies that haven't even gotten to the drum programming stage yet because I haven't established a subject or lines to go with them as of yet. I come back to them from time to time if I'm feeling bored or haven't come up with something new lately.

 

    I had a song I posted here quite awhile back called "New Years Eve" that took 10 years to write.lol Had the melody and a first verse and then it sat for years. I would go back to it from time to time to work on it. And then along with finding a female vocalist, it all came together. So, sometimes it's good to let things mature rather than finish in haste and let a song that has potential to be good end up suffering because of a need to finish it. So yeah, for me, it's music first.

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Music first lyric writing?

Or, as I call it, "lyric writing."  :)

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On 9/18/2016 at 08:34, The Nameless Untold said:

 

When the music has a melody of it's own, Do you use it for your lyrics? Or do you want the lyrics to have its own complimenting melody.

If the later, how do you keep the musics melody separate in you mind while writing the lyrics?

I generally don’t even think about that. I just start singing random words to the music until something starts clicking. I’ll work on the vocal melody usually not thinking about what the music is doing. Obviously it has to fit well with the music but it definitely doesn’t need to use the music Melody. I would say my vocal melodies kind of go in between following the music and using its own melodies. 

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