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.