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(@vic-lewis-vl)
Illustrious Member
Joined: 16 years ago
Posts: 10340
07/06/2008 8:48 pm  

"Swearing is the last refuge of those incompetent in the English language." - Oscar Wilde.

"Who the f***'s Oscar Wilde?" - Anon.

When it comes to the profanity issue, the older I get, the less I like to hear it. Lennon did it back in the early 70's in "Working Class Hero".....that doesn't mean you have to use the F-word in a song. Once for effect, twice to shock, three times - overkill. That's just my opinion, of course.

It's been pointed out to me recently that there aren't, in fact, any rules to writing songs. And if there are, they're there to be ignored. So why do 95% of songwriters still follow the rules? Verse - chorus - verse - chorus - bridge - solo - chorus. Rhyming scheme ABCB, DEDE etc. Simple - it's because that's the kind of song structure people are most familiar with, give or take a few variations. There's a vicarious thrill we all enjoy from time to time of going out to the edge, but very few people actually go OVER the edge and out of the comfort zone.

To use Lennon as an example - I've often argued on these forums about the White Album. Most people say it's a work of genius, it's wild, it's experimental - whereas I think it's a drug-sodden train wreck of an album, patchy at best with a few good tracks, a lot of filler, and some downright awful electronic experimentation. Be honest - how many of you have actually listened to "Revolution 9" more than once? Same goes for the Plastic Ono Band - Live Peace In Toronto. Does anyone ever play the long tracks with Yoko "singing?"

Some people take a bold innovative approach to songwriting - Zappa, Hendrix etc. Neither of them are among my favourite musicians or writers, but hey, a lot of people love them, so they must be doing something right. I can respect their integrity and pride in their work, but to me, if music's not accessible enough, I'm not going to go out of my way to listen to it when there is plenty of music I CAN listen to and understand on a basic level. In the same way that garlic bread is an acquired taste - I'm not even going to try and acquire that taste, when the faintest smell of garlic makes me want to projectile vomit. OK, a bit of an extreme example, but I'm just trying to make a point.....

I suppose what I'm trying to say is, I prefer structure and order to chaos - even if it is well thought out chaos, Zen chaos if you like.

:D :D :D

Vic

"Sometimes the beauty of music can help us all find strength to deal with all the curves life can throw us." (D. Hodge.)


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(@fever-and-hum)
Eminent Member
Joined: 13 years ago
Posts: 26
07/06/2008 9:30 pm  

A song- writer has a responsibility to him/herself but also to the audience/world at large. Songwriters and artists are at the forefront of shaping culture, rather than the other way around. Songwriters selectively recreate experience and emotion etc through their songs. They choose what they write about. Popular songs played constantly on the radio will influence others by their frequent play, and the familiarity they create. (i.e Eminem has become much more passe as time passes; but has nonetheless influenced some of our younger generation (from rich neighbourhoods!) to pretend they are "gangstas". It's not really a good thing, the legacy that is left behind...)

It's a mistake for songwriters to think that profanity is necessary to connect with their audience, that profanity is any more a reflection of reality/truth than anything else they could select to write about.

Every songwriter would love to influence others through their songs; yet, balk at any notion of responsibility to their audience. It smacks too much of censorship. It's silly really, because all artists naturally censor themselves, in their choice of subject matter.


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(@citizennoir)
Noble Member
Joined: 13 years ago
Posts: 1248
07/06/2008 9:53 pm  

Well thought out chaos! 8) :D

Hmmmm.... I take it, you really don't care for my rewrite of your unfinished chorus then....? :|

I don't usually get into swearing in my lyrics either.

And, no.... I don't really care for the White Album.... Though I have actually listened to Rev. #9 more than a few times.
It seemed to me that Lennon was trying to do a recorded version of W. Burrough's 'cut up' technique.
I find that sort of thing interesting.... have yet to try it myself; Lyric wise.

As far as garlic goes.... that's where we really differ!
I can eat whole cloves of raw garlic, no prob! :shock:

Ken :wink:

"The man who has begun to live more seriously withinbegins to live more simply without"-Ernest Hemingway"A genuine individual is an outright nuisance in a factory"-Orson Welles


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 KR2
(@kr2)
Famed Member
Joined: 13 years ago
Posts: 2726
07/06/2008 10:25 pm  

A song- writer has a responsibili[url]ty to him/herself but also to the audience/world at large.
Umm . . .
No he/she doesn't.
That kind of premise is what some governments are based on. Most have failed or are failing.
Ever read any books by Ayn Rand? I ask this because she explains it better than I can (and in a more entertaining way).
I'm with Trev, on that point.
Be true to yourself and if the world likes what you're doing or is changed by it, that's a bonus.
Every songwriter would love to influence others through their songs; yet, balk at any notion of responsibility to their audience.
What responsibilities does the artist have towards the audience? And why? Is that enough? When is this obligation over?

It's the rock that gives the stream its music . . . and the stream that gives the rock its roll.


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(@citizennoir)
Noble Member
Joined: 13 years ago
Posts: 1248
08/06/2008 12:59 am  

A song- writer has a responsibili[url]ty to him/herself but also to the audience/world at large.
Umm . . .
No he/she doesn't.
That kind of premise is what some governments are based on. Most have failed or are failing.
Ever read any books by Ayn Rand? I ask this because she explains it better than I can (and in a more entertaining way).
I'm with Trev, on that point.
Be true to yourself and if the world likes what you're doing or is changed by it, that's a bonus.
Every songwriter would love to influence others through their songs; yet, balk at any notion of responsibility to their audience.
What responsibilities does the artist have towards the audience? And why? Is that enough? When is this obligation over?

Hey!
Weren't you the one that said to keep politics off this forum? :?

Haven't read any of Ayn's books, though I did work for Rand Financial at the Chicago Board of Trade (Named in honor of Ayn).

Can't say as I agree with her philosophical ideas of thinking that selfishism and greed are heroic virtues.... :shock:
And I certainly have LESS THAN ZERO love for one of her cohorts (Alan Greenspan).
So much so, that he better hope that he NEVER runs into me in a Southside bar! :twisted:

Though I do respect her for mixing philosophies.... As I tend to do myself! :wink:

I do agree that the (artistic) songwriter needs only to serve himself....
While the (Pop) songwriter had better go a different direction.

Ken

"The man who has begun to live more seriously withinbegins to live more simply without"-Ernest Hemingway"A genuine individual is an outright nuisance in a factory"-Orson Welles


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 KR2
(@kr2)
Famed Member
Joined: 13 years ago
Posts: 2726
08/06/2008 1:13 am  

Hey!
Weren't you the one that said to keep politics off this forum? :?

Absolutely, but if I simply said "No he/she doesn't" without giving a reason, that would be silly.
And instead of presenting a thesis to back up my reason, I just left it at: read a good book about that type of thinking.
(But, I'm flattered that you would remember that.)

I was hesitant to post it . . . maybe I shouldn't have.
I don't want it to turn to a political debate.
I think it can be kept to a philosophical one . . .
but then that's not the intent of this forum either.
So, I'll do my part and post no more on that topic.
I'll let Rand talk for me.
Ohh geez, I'm rambling on and on and on . . .

It's the rock that gives the stream its music . . . and the stream that gives the rock its roll.


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(@barnabus-rox)
Famed Member
Joined: 16 years ago
Posts: 2976
08/06/2008 1:22 am  

responsibility

Thats a new one to me , I want to look at Johnny Cash for a moment here ..

Hurt :

The needle tears a hole - I don't believe the songwriter was advocating drugs but it can be seen in that light ..

Folsom Prison Blues :
Once again I don't believe he is advocating breaking the law so you can be in jail ...

Jackson :
All them women gonna make me, teach 'em what they don't know how,
I don't think he was advocating married men having affairs , it can be read into the lyric

DELIA'S GONE :
Delia, oh, Delia Delia all my life If I hadn't have shot poor Delia I'd have had her for my wife Delia's gone, one more round Delia's gone "
Once again I am fairly sure he wasn't advocating men go out and shoot your wives .

Enough of using Mr Cash , writers and responsibility , No sorry to me that is just one of those cop outs that little Johnny shot those kids at school because singer ABC123 said it in his lyrics ...
The masses of the Earth have the responsibility ti ensure what is bought is what they want their children and themselves listening to .
Don't blame a writer because he said he is going to shoot someone , blame the people who made it popular ...
Blame the ones that allowed such things to be taken so literally .

Responsibility in writing ? No sorry not in my world

Here is to you as good as you areAnd here is to me as bad as I amAs good as you are and as bad as I amI'm as good as you are as bad as I am


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(@fever-and-hum)
Eminent Member
Joined: 13 years ago
Posts: 26
08/06/2008 2:11 am  

Umm Yes.

In brief, what I am saying is that artists sometime produce artworks of questionable content; and hide behind artistic licence


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(@nicktorres)
Illustrious Member
Joined: 13 years ago
Posts: 5470
08/06/2008 1:12 pm  

I agree with what Vic is saying about song structure. If we have no rules, why bother with that? Isn't that limiting artistically? Shouldn't every true artists song sound as abstract as Yoko and Revolution #9?

Why bother with keys? Why go with chords in a progression? Why learn pentatonic scales, or CAGED, or any other method of soloing. Why not just play any damn note you like?

I'll tell you why, because if you did your music would suck and no one would listen.

This argument is akin to the one that goes you shouldn't learn theory because it will limit your creativity, when in fact it does the exact opposite.

The limits expressed in the first couple of pages are things to look out for, things over done, things that prevent you from expressing your self with originality. Everything has it set of do and don't. Wasn't it a Rush song that said "If you choose not to decide you still have made a choice."

If you choose to write in a non-limits fashion then you have chosen the following limits "Don't pay attention to the don'ts" and "Don't worry about it being commercial" "Don't consider whether your song will be pleasing to others " So you've set your own set of limits.

Do your lyrics rhyme? Do you go with a verse chorus structure? Why? You don't have to? Do you pay attention to meter? Have you ever searched for the right word to make the line fit? Why? Do the lyrical lines fit within your chord structure? Why? You are free man, why bother with any of this?

You may not be able to tell it from my writing, but I've read plenty of books, attended classes, gone to seminars, gone one on one with pro songwriters and they all talk about form and structure and what pegs you as an amateur from the very beginning, what is going to turn off the listener and what commonalities good lyrics share.

Good songwriters constantly re-write their lyrics. If the initial upchuck of a lyrical idea is good enough, why would anyone do that?

Here is my list....check out numbers 6 and 37 from my article Songwriting for Beginners and if that isn't enough for you, try Songwriting for Intermediates


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(@citizennoir)
Noble Member
Joined: 13 years ago
Posts: 1248
08/06/2008 2:49 pm  

Hey Nick :D 8)

Well, I think that the Zen point I'm trying to get across is this: (Hopefully I can better explain it this time :roll: )

Say that you were studing Aikiken (A Japanese swordfighting style) and you wanted to become a master at it combining that with a Zen mind.
Would you not follow any of the rules????
Of course not!
Zen dictates that you KNOW ALL of the rules SO WELL that you can discard them, or 'use' them BUT without thinking about them.

In the journey to becoming a master swordfighter, you would certainly have to spend countless time following set patterns of movements and such.
If you engaged in an actual swordfight though, you had better be able to just do without thinking, and be able to apply those patterns in a seamless way or else....

When you play guitar, do you stop to think about what you are doing????
Maybe.... When composing a song or a piece.
You know what I'm getting at though.

Writing words is no different.

Yes, I rewrite my stuff.
I could show you how I just wrote that chorus for Vic's song.... Where each line came from and how I rewrote them and rearranged the lines.

I guess the heart of what I'm getting at is that a lot of people look at the big picture when writing - Such as:
All there is to a song is the song structure of verse/verse/chorus/verse/bridge/chorus and the rhyming pattern.
As long as that is followed, it's a song and nothing else matters.

I think more attention needs to be placed on the actual verses themselves.
There are many MORE RULES of proper writing that need to be followed.
If you are going to throw a rule book in my face - than please.... know that there are a lot more chapters in the book than just overall basic song structure and basic rhyme patterns.

And there's nothing wrong with extending yourself or taking a chance when it comes to writing.
You might not be able to pull it off.... though you are sure to learn something; Especially if you fail.
Because we all learn more from our mistakes.

Ken

"The man who has begun to live more seriously withinbegins to live more simply without"-Ernest Hemingway"A genuine individual is an outright nuisance in a factory"-Orson Welles


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(@nicktorres)
Illustrious Member
Joined: 13 years ago
Posts: 5470
08/06/2008 3:17 pm  

I agree.


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(@greybeard)
Illustrious Member
Joined: 18 years ago
Posts: 5900
08/06/2008 5:19 pm  

Zen dictates that you KNOW ALL of the rules SO WELL that you can discard them, or 'use' them BUT without thinking about them.
I don't agree that you can discard rules, but, if you know them well enough, you will know when breaking them will aid your cause. It's like music theory - if you know theory well enough, you'll know when to put in an out-of-key note or when to put in a 6-9#11 chord for better effect. You don't discard the rules, you use them creatively.

You can discard the rules, but if you've ever listened to more than 5 minutes of atonal music in one stretch, you'll more appreciate the reason for rules. :D :D

I started with nothing - and I've still got most of it left.Did you know that the word "gullible" is not in any dictionary?Greybeard's PagesMy Articles & Reviews on GN


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(@jackss565)
Estimable Member
Joined: 12 years ago
Posts: 233
09/06/2008 1:05 pm  

Very helpful, i will be submitting my first song as soon as i write one i like enough.

Jack


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(@citizennoir)
Noble Member
Joined: 13 years ago
Posts: 1248
09/06/2008 7:19 pm  

Hey Nick,
Just read both of your songwriting articles (For Beginers, and For Intermediates)....

I was shocked at how much we think alike on that subject ~ Especially with the Movie/Photograph idea!
(Maybe I'm not Crazy after all!!!! :P )

About the only ideas we differ on is the Title, Forced Rhymes, and Backwards Sentences.

Anyway; Thankx!
A great read.
I highly recommend taking a look.

Ken

"The man who has begun to live more seriously withinbegins to live more simply without"-Ernest Hemingway"A genuine individual is an outright nuisance in a factory"-Orson Welles


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(@shadyharrison)
Reputable Member
Joined: 13 years ago
Posts: 279
10/06/2008 7:32 pm  

that reminded me of some dylan mis-hears I read a while back. From Time Out Of Mind there's one tune where he sings "My sense of humanity went down the drain." To this day, I hear that as "My sensitive manatee went down the drain"....after reading some article which claimed this was indeed the line and his recording in florida had had a profound impact on him.

You're talking about "Not Dark Yet", mate. (Love that track.)

Take care, Casey


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