Category Archives: Song Writing

A Bit Of Work In Progress

So I’ve been promising you all a bit of music, and I’ve been promising you this for a very long time.

Well today I’m finally delivering!

I strummed out a chord progression on Sunday, and played it to Jacko on Wednesday, and almost immediately we turned it into this.

Now this is a real rough and ready recording. There’s clearly a lot of mistakes, but we did record this mere minutes after we wrote it and through my laptop’s built in mic. Despite all that, we both really like it!

I don’t know if we’ll be making many changes to the song and its structure. I quite like the idea of having a nice and simple song, lasting for not much more than two minutes.

But we’re not done yet! The next steps will be to get it tight and pen some lyrics.

Let me know what you think, any suggestions will be most welcome! If you’re nice I’ll pin up some other recordings for you!

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Lacking Direction

Tonight I have been jamming with Jacko, my long time musical collaborator. We carried on with some songs we began writing a few weeks ago, where we both brought some chords together, and Jacko started picking this really magical picking melody over the top of it.

But beyond that we struggled to get anywhere with the song. We lacked an overriding idea driving the song forward.

So the plan we devised is that over the weekend we will both, separately, write some lyrics.

I’ve already decided that I will write a tune based on the picking melody we already have. The bigger problem is what to write about.

In many way I’ve disappointed myself with the quality of my lyrics in the past, and suppressed myself from writing any more god-awful songs. I’ve got get over that little fear, and just put pen to paper.

I feel that this is probably the same old problem that I have written about before, so if you are getting deja vu, then I apologise.

Whilst digging around for an entire song I wrote some time ago, I found an old scrap piece of paper on which I wrote a line on. By way of apology, here it is!

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It reads; “Take it fucking easy, you got all day long, flexitime and pension plans, you forgot whats right and wrong”.

I wrote this not long after I started my very first job. I was clearly unimpressed with my colleagues.

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Keep It Simple vs Making It Interesting

With my intentions of becoming a singer-songwriter, and the recovery of my acoustic guitar from the clutches of my parents house, I’ve been giving a lot of thought to acoustic guitar based songs.

Whenever I listen to my iPod or see a band, I’m always listening out for what makes their music good or bad and how I can use this to make my own songs better. What I have been doing a lot of lately is trying to figure out the structure of acoustic songs.

With pop, rock and punk this is something I figured out a while ago. It goes; intro, verse (often palm muted), chorus, verse, chorus, middle eighth, chorus, chorus – or some variation of this. But with acoustic songs the structures can be all over the place, and moreover, when I’m writing, I’m not sure which riffs would be best suited for a chorus or verse etc.

This feeling was further compounded when I went to the see Revival Tour recently.

The Revival Tour is a fantastic touring showcase of mostly american punk band members who have solo singer songwriter projects. Orchestrated by Chuck Ragan (of Hot Water Music fame). I had the pleasure of seeing Dan Adriano (Alkaline Trio), Brian Fallon (Gaslight Anthem) and Dave Hause (The Loved Ones).

What immediately struck me when seeing Dave Hause on stage that what he was playing were really simple open chords with some pretty basic strumming. Every chord was there to act as a platform for the vocals.

On further listening to other songs that I love, I realised that great songs don’t have to be complicated. I don’t have to write some complex mathcore folk tune. New rule; keep it simple and focus on writing a good song.

This idea is quickly shattered every time I listen to Frank Turner, who has some really difficult pieces. Then I don’t know what to think.

I should be finding all this freedom in songwriting liberating. Instead I just get a little confused.

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Matching Music with Tone and Emotion

Just a quick post whilst I’m listening to music with my Dad on a long car journey.

It’s important to match riffs and solos to the emotion of the song and lyrics. There’s no point in having a heavy, ripping solo during a happy love song.

This sounds oh so simple, but it’s a mistake that is often made. For example, in every modern blues harmonica song ever written. I’m looking at you Paul Lamb. Be honest mate, you ain’t never had the blues, have you?

Check out a Paul Lamb and The King Snakes Classic

Or maybe this one sums up how we all feel!

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New Releases = More Tunes

My two favourite band are both releasing new albums this month. This makes me extremely happy, not only do I adore their music, but it also means I get to buy music that’s current and wasn’t released a decade ago.

As with most upcoming major releases, singles have been released prior to both album’s launches. This is what I wanted to talk about. Hearing either song inspires me to pick up my guitar and get writing again, they both overwhelm me with a crushing need to play music and perform in front of an audience again. After listening to both the other night on spotify, I sat down with my guitar until I wrote something. It’s not much at the moment, but it’s got enough ideas and potential to bring together an entire song.

Anyway, let’s look at the bands!

Rise Against – Help Is On The Way
Since I was given Revolutions Per Minute for my birthday by my best friend some 5 years ago, I have become obsessed with Rise Against, buying every album, EP and going to every show I can possibly get to.

Their new song is taken from the album Endgame, which is released on 14 March 2011(sounds like a trip to HMV during my lunch break on Monday!)

There’s something about the opening riff that captures my attention, but unfortunately the majority of the song sounds like rehashes and reused harmonics from songs off their previous album, Appeal To Reason. Not a bad thing, but it’s not as good as their early stuff. I guess we’ll just have to wait and see what the rest of the record is like.

Sum 41 – Screaming Bloody Murder
These guys were my favourite bands until I discovered Rise Against. Sum 41’s music was some of the first rock I listened to, and Motivation was probably the first song I learnt to play in it’s entirety. Needless to say, they hold a special place in my heart.

The album is out on 29 March 2011. The first single is also the title track.

In contrast to Rise Against’s single, this is very different to anything that I’ve heard from Sum 41 before. It makes me wonder in which direction the album will go in. Each record the band have put out changes their sound, often going from pop-punk to metal and back.

The song however, feels rather disjointed, almost as it it was written in a studio and riffs were attached to each on a computer, rather than by sitting down with a couple guitars and seeing what worked.

That’s not to say I don’t like the track, the solo was a particular highlight, but given that the album has been repeatedly delayed you have to wonder what the band were doing all that time. Let’s hope the rest of the album has more polish.

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Filed under Awesome Bands I Like, Band, Song Writing

Missing Lyrics – Found!

Yesterday I was clearing out my rucksack. This is a lot like clearing out your school blazer at the end of term, you know, with the inside pockets full of letters you were meant to give to your Mum four weeks ago.

Amongst the eye drops, imodium and loose change I found a sheet with song lyrics scribbled down. I didn’t recognise this at all, but I knew that I must have written it; my god-awful handwriting was scrawled across the sheet.

I gave a it good read, and to my surprise I thought the lyrics were pretty sweet! This is notable because I usually despair when I re-read my lyrics. This harks back to when I first started writing music when I was 15/16. I would write songs about my first girlfriend breaking up with me in the middle of the night. As my pen struggled to keep up with my overactive mind I would think to myself “this is gold!”, and once I re-read them in the cold morning light I would realise that I was an emo twat.

Anyway, heres a sneakpeek. Some word arrangements will be changed, also I’ve clearly missed half a line off and need another verse, but I’m not too worried about that, lots of bands just repeat themselves.
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Ugly Kid – The Frustrations Of A Dude Who Just Wants To Rock

Just got back from band practice. First hour was good, the second, not so good. For some reason it suddenly felt like playing was an effort for all three of us. In fact it was incredibly frustrating.

I imagine this is what it feels like to be a parent of child with learning difficulties. Or maybe the parent of a really ugly kid. Trying your best for baby, but still it keeps stumbling and doesn’t really do all that well at school, and gets ignored by all the girls. You know it will all be fine in a few years, but you really don’t want to wait that long to see the fruit of your loins blossom.

The issue arose when we went back to an earlier song, which has two broad parts, which both differ in terms of style and tempo. I personally quite like the contrast between these two parts. This might be because I play the most out of anybody during it, but a better reasoning would be that I grew up listening to a lot of post hardcore (it was always post-something back in the early 2000s) that doesn’t always follow a fixed structure as pop-punk usually does, where as the guys are often concerned in fitting the music into a tried and tested structure.

All this led into a debate in what direction the band should go in. Whereas we all accept that we need a singer, the other two say we need a singer songwriter to “steer the ship”. That quote has fucked me off no end. The ideas are pretty much there, I don’t need some pretentious dude with an acoustic guitar telling me what my songs should sound like.

Maybe in future I should be a bit more forward with my views rather than just going along with the flow.

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Filed under Band, Carving the sound, singer, Song Writing