The Songwriting Thread

Discussion in 'Music Theory, Lessons & Techniques' started by inaudio, Sep 8, 2013.

  1. TallestFiddle

    TallestFiddle SS.org Regular

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    Its set to 6/8 in reaper, so idk lol. I was thinking in a 3/4 mindset when I was writing the first part, but ya I was getting confused, it seems like 4/4 even though its really 6/8. I think its because its a really fast tempo of 6/8 (230 bpm). I was just listening to it and counting 1, 2, 3, 4 - 1, 2, 3, 4 on every cymbal hit and it works so I see why you would see that too. But I can also count 1, 2, 3 between each cymbal hit, which is what the kick, and guitar are doing, so idk what it is, I guess its up to interpretation :lol:

    Ya I agree with your criticisms, Its a bit weird the way that lead works there, I actually was playing it as part of the main riff, but I broke it into two seperate parts for the purposes of timbre and I had the lead chugging along upper register notes in between each triplettey part. I think its also a product of my inability to differentiate the tones enough, thats something I need to work on.

    I also agree that it could use some dynamics, I tried adding in a more relaxed section after I went back to the beginning material, but it just felt out of place when I went back to that main lead again, and I really wanted to replay that again but harmonize it at the end. I don't mind that its all up-tempo right now, but I definitely need to work on adding more dynamics into the next song. Actually, Now that I think about it, it would have been nice if I had a quieter section instead of that riff at 1:44. In hindsight I think that riff is a bit excessive actually.

    Thanks a bunch for the criticisms, they will help me alot going forward. I think I'm going to leave this song where it is though, its not worth it to mess around with it too much, I'll just start on another one with these thoughts in mind.
     
  2. octatoan

    octatoan Acoustic tech-death!

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    Nick: Your drums be nice and simple. I like them.

    [SC]https://soundcloud.com/octatoan/moar[/SC]

    I forced myself to write a solo piano piece in two hours, concerned that maybe I was a) dependent on the guitar to come up with riffs/themes, b) afraid of flat keys (this is in Eb Ab) and c) dependent on "layering" multiple instruments without giving each one material interesting enough to allow it to stand on its own. Also, (I think) this ends with a ii-V-I (Fm-Bb-Eb? Might be wrong, can't check now. Bbm - Eb - Ab.)

    Here's a PDF of the score. There are a few nice tuplets (I use MuseScore now, the 2.0 version is awesome on Linuxes!)

    Also, I got on SoundCloud.

    Edit: .... .... .... THIS IS IN A FLAT THATS WHY THE ENDING SOUNDS SO BAD
    Edit 2: I WANT TO SWEAR GODDAMMIT
    Edit 3: Fixed.
     

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  3. TallestFiddle

    TallestFiddle SS.org Regular

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    Octo: Cool piece. I like the tuple parts that you put in there. I think the ultra fast runs are a little out of place though, they just don't seem to belong at that speed when the bass notes are going that slow. I like the ending the best because you change up the chords a bit more, you should try to do that more if you can. It seems like it was hard based on your confusion about it, but I liked the way it sounded. Good job doing that in 2 hours!

    Also, thanks for mentioning MuseScore, I just downloaded it and found out theres a panoramic view, so I'm gonna start using that. thats the only reason I was still using my current software.




    I had mono this week, so i was stuck on the couch forever. I decided to work on some composition so I wrote this song. I'm happy with how it turned out, but I was hoping to make it longer. As it is, I feel like I'm losing track of the original theme as I make it longer. I don't have a very good workflow with transcription, and I'm spending a lot of time with trial and error seeing what works and what doesn't. I'm writing everything into a TAB exclusive editor, because thats what I'm used to. But I'm trying to think about things in terms of theory, and the tab numbers aren't helping me very much.

    I paid more attention to dynamics in this song, making sure it wasn't just full blast the whole time like the last one. I was trying to transition to minor at one point (1:30) and I think that part is minor, but I thought everything after it was too. But I just realized that the last section is major, I was thinking of the wrong note as the root note when I was writing the chords. I was mostly writing everything by ear, and sometimes thinking about the chord roman numerals to help out. I guess this is just a common problem that I have, I think I need to do more research.

    Anyway, I hope you enjoy, please let me know any critiques you think of :)
     

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  4. AugmentedFourth

    AugmentedFourth X:1 K:C [c^f]|

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    I think you actually did a good job keeping the number of materials you used to a good number. The ending part sounds like the beginning part, and the acoustic chord part at the middle/end sounds fitting with the tension that it builds, using chords that aren't present before that point.

    While the your tonality does sound very conservative, I think it really works because you focus on certain areas of the key (I wasn't sure if I heard a key change to the relative key or not) by limiting the chords that you use for each part of the song, thus making the sections distinct and poignant. Much of the attraction of the song comes from the interwoven melodies such as at 0:36.

    If I may ask, do you plan on putting vocals into these pieces? If so, how are you going to write the vocal line(s)?

    I also squeezed out a riff or two, I'll put those right here:

    [SC]https://soundcloud.com/augmentedfourth/riff-informational[/SC]

    [SC]https://soundcloud.com/augmentedfourth/riff-crushing-defeat[/SC]
     
  5. TallestFiddle

    TallestFiddle SS.org Regular

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    Thanks for the feedback! I'm glad you like the part at 0:36, I was really enjoying the layered melodies, I was actually a bit afraid that it was getting too busy, but you've put me at ease there.

    I have a friend who wants to do vocals for some of my songs, but I won't be writing the vocal lines for him. I've written vocal parts for some of my songs, and I did that mostly by improvising and seeing what I liked and what I didn't. Similar to how I write guitar leads. Are you planning to write vocal lines for your songs?

    I enjoyed your pieces very much. I love the way that the different melodies play against each other in informational. I'm a huge fan of your chord progressions, your music always surprises me with where it goes harmonically. It inspires me to branch out and learn more.
    I love when the synth comes in on crushing defeat, and the rhythmic breakdown is really interesting and unexpected too, really cool.

    I'm curious. What program do you use for composing? Guitar Pro? I tried using MuseScore that Octotoan reccomended, but its hard to use compared to the program I use now where I can maneuver around the tabs with the arrow keys. I know I'm doing myself a disservice by only writing tabs, but I have such a hard time getting used to any of the programs for writing standard music.
     
  6. AugmentedFourth

    AugmentedFourth X:1 K:C [c^f]|

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    Got it. I figured that that's how most vocal melodies are written. Since it's such an easy instrument to improvise on (having had it for one's whole life) it makes sense to write that way.

    I don't write vocal lines... If I did they might just be guitar lines that are 'sing-songy' so I decide to have them sung (using vowel sounds and such).

    I use GP5. There's nothing wrong with writing in tablature (until you are writing for instruments that aren't guitar). Sure, you don't get the probably somewhat marginal practice of writing in standard notation, but it's not like it's much more difficult to use standard notation. I tend to write out my sketch ideas (and thus where most of my writing gets done) in tablature because I want to do it 1) quick 2) dirty and 3) want to preserve the voicings and fingerings that I used, since a lot of my riffs tend to rely on certain fingerings and I don't want to have to go back and re-extract those fingerings from standard notation by trial and error or whatever.

    When doing transcriptions, however, I use a cheapy version of Finale. I've gotten very used to writing drums in GP5's tab-like method, though.
     
  7. TallestFiddle

    TallestFiddle SS.org Regular

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    That makes me feel better that you write some tabs too. I was getting worried that I was waiting time writing in tabs when I could be writing it in standard notation. I guess it's not too hard to keep theory in mind when writing tabs. Most of what I do comes from my ear and my knowledge of the guitar so it would make sense to use tabliture.
     
  8. AugmentedFourth

    AugmentedFourth X:1 K:C [c^f]|

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    So I've been getting into and listening to Philip Glass a lot recently, and I think it shows in "Riff Crushing Defeat." Especially with the song now completed (I think):

    [sc]https://soundcloud.com/augmentedfourth/riff-crushing-defeat-pre-mix[/sc]

    I was inspired by Glassworks specifically, and so I felt a bit freer to use simpler chord progressions and instead focus on orchestration and developing the parts/themes. The 8th-note staccato horn lines are pretty obviously Glassian, and while I abandon the (rather decidedly) conservative harmonic palette that Glass uses, some of the ideas are still there (using amen cadences, using the vi as a focus in itself instead of a passing chord, etc.).

    I tried to make "Riff Informational" in contrast: Informational is very bouncy and is full of melodies (little and large) and embellishments.

    [sc]https://soundcloud.com/augmentedfourth/riff-informational-b-section[/sc]

    It's funny, taking a snippet of the 16th-note tapped melody from the beginning and slowing it down x2, overlaying it over the next part. Because I don't even know if it's really possible to notice unless you transcribe it out. Maybe there's some subconscious effects where like, when you're listening to it you make connections that the new melody is at least very similar in certain ways (certain intervals or general contours, maybe) to the 'A' melody. I hope that it gives some sort of cohesion to the two parts, even for someone who is unaware of the explicit connection.

    I imagine there has to be something there, since there is always that level of abstraction that your mind retains where you can listen to a melody and be like, "oh yeah... this is definitely John Coltrane" or whatever.

    That also makes me wonder, do any of you guys have any 'gestures' that you have throughout your music that you are consciously aware of?
     
  9. octatoan

    octatoan Acoustic tech-death!

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    Gibbs, define 'gesture'.
     
  10. AugmentedFourth

    AugmentedFourth X:1 K:C [c^f]|

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    A classic example of a gesture (although a rather strict example of one) would be The BACH motif.

    Anything like, for example, switching your hi-hats from quarter/eighth notes to dotted eights before lots of your cadences, that would be a gesture. Anything that is a recognizable pattern that can fit in many contexts so that they can be reused to varying effects throughout one's repertoire I would consider a gesture.
     
  11. Mr. Big Noodles

    Mr. Big Noodles Theory God

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    To add to that, think of a gesture as the general shape of a thing, not so much the specific notes. As a simple example, an arpeggio is going to sound like an arpeggio regardless of the chord quality, transposition, inversion, range, or direction. If you build a gesture from an arpeggio, the iterations of that single gesture are inexhaustible. Another one. A repeated note will sound like a repeated note, no matter what. You can expand the idea by making a sequence of repeated notes, repeated chords, harmonized repeated notes, working the repeated note into polyphony, working with dynamics and articulation... Motivic development is about cranking out as many versions of a single idea as possible (and as desired).


    Mess with texture. There's monophony, homophony, polyphony, heterophony, and a few things in between and beyond. Anything you do in one of those textures can be rehashed in the others. Same thing with dynamics and articulation.
     
  12. dbrozz

    dbrozz SS.org Regular

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    This isn't a plug, I swear!

    But I posted a page or two back saying I'd share something and since then the tracks I've been composing have lost some steam and I've become a little stuck on where I should take them.

    But I did do this one recently:
    [sc]https://soundcloud.com/devbrow/virga[/sc]

    Feel free to nitpick the .... out of it! :metal:
     
  13. Mr. Big Noodles

    Mr. Big Noodles Theory God

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    I like it. There's a good amount of variety, detail, and especially texture. At first listen, I don't have any huge problems with it.
     
  14. inaudio

    inaudio Hack Fraud

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    @dbrozz I really liked the track. The vibe immediately reminded me of Chroma Key's track Even the Waves but with the style/presentation/execution sounding a lot like some of the stuff I've heard from Chimp Spanner. There's a few things about the song that I think are done really well. First off, I feel like the intro stood out and actively captured my attention. I think that lots of people write great stuff but don't get much attention because there's just so much out there these days. I think that the first impression a track gives can be quite important from that viewpoint, since it's quite rare for people to take time out of their day to let the demo of somebody they've never heard of "sink in". This is obviously not something to apply to every song, but something to think about if you're hoping to get noticed.

    Another thing that I really liked was the variety of dynamics throughout the track. Especially the transition into the softer part after the intro and the slightly darker and gloomier sounding ending. The only thing that didn't have much variety in the track was instrumentation. Not a bad thing, more of an observation. Variety regarding instrumentation is something I personally enjoy in music. An example that comes to my mind is Periphery's track Priestess. Starts off acoustic, is predominantly played by a band but then has a short electronic break. Pretty sure that combined with the earlier point about making a first impression is one of the reasons why Alpha works as a single!

    And don't worry about the plug thing. I definitely agree with Kevin Smith's point that one of the things that most people yearn for is to be heard. I don't see the harm in granting each other that opportunity. :yesway:
     
  15. inaudio

    inaudio Hack Fraud

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    @AugmentedFourth "Riff Crushing Defeat" and "Riff Informational" is the best stuff I've heard from you. Amazing job. Although, I must ask...

    [​IMG]

    ...is your next song going to be "Riff Raff"? :lol:
     
  16. AugmentedFourth

    AugmentedFourth X:1 K:C [c^f]|

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    @dbrozz

    Sick stuff right there. While Biison was critical of the uniformity of instrumentation, I think that you did a good job with it. Since the orchestration and simple switches between single notes and chords changes the texture, the constant instrumentation keeps the aesthetic coherent. Overall pretty tasty.

    Here's the lastest thing I've been working on, Riff Worn:

    [sc]https://soundcloud.com/augmentedfourth/riff-worn-rough-sketch[/sc]

    What I'm starting to notice is that I've been sneaking in more classical music influence as I go... some arts of this piece are almost baroque counterpoint, and usually I wouldn't use transitions like the one at the 2:00 mark. Anyways, I hope to make this a two-parter, which is easy to do when you end on a 7b9 chord.
     
  17. jonajon91

    jonajon91 New Picture

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    So I try not to use threads like these, but I've caved. I've been working on this large-ish project, but I have not progressed much on it for a week or so now. My main wondering is if the heavy twist at bar 54 is too sudden and needs a build up into it or if it should be taken out completely. At the moment, it does not really fit the style of the rest and it does not go anywhere so it could be deleted quite easily.

    FMP 04-11-15
    I don't know how this will sound in GP6 or with RSE so ill just say for best sounds use GP5 midi.

    ---edit---

    Happy to be a fresh pair of ears for anyone else.
     
  18. AugmentedFourth

    AugmentedFourth X:1 K:C [c^f]|

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    No worries dude. I have this thread on e-mail subscription so I can come here when people post. I think it's a good resource, no shame in adding to a conversation.

    No, I think the transition there is good and I think the part gives a much-needed fleshing out of that section. It's the most "metal" point of the piece but still feels like it's part of the aesthetic. That being said, the transition at m. 121 needs a bit of work. I can't quite tell from the notation, but it looks like you are going from 100 bpm to 250 bpm. This a bit awkward of a transition, but maintaining those bpm values you can do something like 5-tuplet notes to anticipate the transition or just add drums to that one interim measure or something to that effect. As it is, it's quite jarring.

    I think it's fine.

    Here's a tip: Don't use the key of Ab minor, use G# minor. Unless you have some special reason to be in Ab minor, it's just too many accidentals and the relative major is Cb instead of B. Awkward.

    Structurally it comes off a bit odd. The beginning is quite good, and has a nice build-up/layering, but it just seems to build up and then dump off into a seemingly unrelated theme, and the first bit doesn't come back. Also I'm curious why you have a section labelled "Transition to Ab." It sounds less like a transition and more like the song ended (fading out) and then a new one started up a bit after.

    The "first idea" section is ok with the G# drone on the bottom, but the chords leave something to be desired. Maybe add a third one.

    From mm. 10-41, I think that it would be cool to alternate the turnaround measures in terms of what Track 1 is playing. On the turn-around measures (e.g. m. 25), it plays a G# and then the G# below it. The note below could also alternatively be D#, or even B. Alternating one or both of those with G# might be good.

    I like the sparse drum parts and I think those will translate well to actual recorded drums with reverb and all that good stuff.

    Right now the last completely new song I have up is Riff Performed:

    [sc]https://soundcloud.com/augmentedfourth/riff-performed[/sc]

    Not a finished mix, but the composition is finished pretty much. I'm just not sure what to do for the section at 4:48 though. Right now I just have some choir business singing triads over it :lol:
     
  19. jonajon91

    jonajon91 New Picture

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    Thanks for the thorough reply.
    I completely forgot about the change at 121, it is definitely the weakest part of what I have. I thought I might be able to hide the crap songwriting behind a layer of noise, but that's not a good idea. Ill either scrap it or rework it completely.
    The structure is still subject to change since everything is a long way from being finalised or ever written. The best way I can describe what I am doing with the ending is by sharing this. in Bb 2.0 - a collaborative music/spoken word project - The idea that a group of instruments improvising slowly in the same key with free form and no tempo, yet still fit together interests me so that is what I'm going to do in the section titled Bb is to record as many instruments as I can get my hands on doing just that. Ill then transition all the instruments into Ab (G#) for the final section which is really just godspeed but not as good. I am also tempted to add more to the 'first idea' section as well and I messed around with the turnaround bars as well, it's just a subtle change to stop it being to repetitive which I like, I'm afraid there are a few parts which repeat without enough change that I will have to sit and play with at some point.
    I'm just sorry that I can't think of anything to say about 4:48 in your piece, I think it works well. Thanks a lot for all the pointers though.
     

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