Song writing tip

Arrangement, instrumentation, lyric writing, music theory, inspiration… it’s all here.

Moderator: Moderators

Post Reply

Re: Song writing tip

Post by blinddrew »

I suspect there has been a fair change in teaching approaches between when some of these authorities were in school and how things are done today. :)
User avatar
blinddrew
Jedi Poster
Posts: 19658 Joined: Sun Jul 05, 2015 12:00 am Location: York
Ignore the post count, I have no idea what I'm doing...

Re: Song writing tip

Post by Folderol »

blinddrew wrote: Sun Jul 03, 2022 1:04 pm I suspect there has been a fair change in teaching approaches between when some of these authorities were in school and how things are done today. :)

Exactly.
The impression I get is teachers are pretty open these days, but when I was a kid it was very much a case of:
"Just do what you're told."
"What makes you think you know better than the experts?"
"Play exactly what's on the music. Not what you think should be there."

And the absolute killer:
"Lets face it you've got a really boring voice. OK for filling out the choir but you'll never be a singer".
User avatar
Folderol
Jedi Poster
Posts: 15512 Joined: Sat Nov 15, 2008 12:00 am Location: The Mudway Towns, UK
Yes. I am that Linux nut {apparently now an 'elderly'}
Onwards and... err... sideways!

Re: Song writing tip

Post by RichardT »

Folderol wrote: Sun Jul 03, 2022 2:10 pm
blinddrew wrote: Sun Jul 03, 2022 1:04 pm I suspect there has been a fair change in teaching approaches between when some of these authorities were in school and how things are done today. :)

Exactly.
The impression I get is teachers are pretty open these days, but when I was a kid it was very much a case of:
"Just do what you're told."
"What makes you think you know better than the experts?"
"Play exactly what's on the music. Not what you think should be there."

And the absolute killer:
"Lets face it you've got a really boring voice. OK for filling out the choir but you'll never be a singer".

Not related to music, but a friend’s essay at secondary school got the teacher’s comment ‘attempts at humour depressing’.
RichardT
Frequent Poster (Level2)
Posts: 2319 Joined: Fri Aug 13, 2004 12:00 am Location: London UK

Re: Song writing tip

Post by MaestroMikeT »

merlyn wrote:
RobinDorset wrote: Tue Jun 28, 2022 6:33 pm ... it's something I've noticed in many great songs.

I've noticed those chords in songs.

E major in C -- Space Oddity It's the first chord change of the verse

F minor in C -- also Space Oddity There is a change | F / / / | Fm / / /| This is also in Nowhere Man and Creep in G.

Anyone got examples of the other chords?

These are very far from arbitrary “non-scale” chords! The F-Fm is a very old, very beaten route to returning to the tonic chord, being IV maj - IV minor - I maj (or eventually the III minor en route to the sub dominant group, then dominant and release to I.
Also the E maj in C is essentially raising the III from minor to dominant seventh to guide to VI minor, also a very characteristic harmonic path.
The same can be said about turning the II from minor (in a major scale) to dominant - it is called double dominant, cause it became a the… dominant of the dominant ;). I’m sorry if this sounds condescending, that is surely not my intention, but these are very very beaten roads, with very explicit and typical harmonic pathways. I guess it really puts a shine on one’s need to get to grips with the fundamentals of harmony. Even if you stray to reharmonizing in a jazzy fashion, you’re still using substitution pieces of the puzzle, not inventing a new one - like the Lydian chord substituting the I major, or the alt9 for the V.
The true inventiveness comes from creating a cohesive whole, in which no chord sounds out of place but rather the one you can’t imagine a different solution without. If you pick pop or rock from the 70s through to the 90s you’ll have lots and lots of examples, and more so if you go to fusion, singer-songwriter stuff, pop-jazz, etc. Harmony if a wonderful, wonderful land! :)

Enviado do meu iPhone usando o Tapatalk
MaestroMikeT
Regular
Posts: 50 Joined: Thu May 07, 2020 3:24 pm

Re: Song writing tip

Post by Exalted Wombat »

This is all sounding like 'theory for guitarists (or computer-based 'producers') who don't read music'. An obsession with the diatonic chords of a key, and a feeling that doing something non-diatonic is remarkable, requiring special justification.

Read music, play music. From simple early Classical ('Minuet in G') to 'Golden age' Hollywood scores, Jazz standards, John Williams, even the Beatles... and that's leaving out the way-out stuff! All pretty tonal, we generally know what key we're in. But WAY more choice of chords than just the diatonic ones.

Yes, in Harmony #101 we learn the Primary Triads, I, IV and V. And we write simple exercises using just them. But at the same time our PLAYING studies are introducing us to music that does far more interesting things! Don't worry, the theory will catch up.
Exalted Wombat
Jedi Poster
Posts: 5737 Joined: Sat Feb 06, 2010 12:00 am Location: London UK
You don't have to write songs. The world doesn't want you to write songs. It would probably prefer it if you didn't. So write songs if you want to. Otherwise, dont bore us with beefing about it. Go fishing instead.

Re: Song writing tip

Post by MaestroMikeT »

exactly, the actual great music you devour from others will provide a copious amount of knowledge to go hand in hand with harmony studies. Learn, learn, learn. Know the rules, then consciently break them.
MaestroMikeT
Regular
Posts: 50 Joined: Thu May 07, 2020 3:24 pm

Re: Song writing tip

Post by Uncovered Pitch »

merlyn wrote: Fri Jul 01, 2022 3:14 pm So where is this nostalgia barrier in the space-time continuum? What period did you look at where the harmony is 90% diatonic (sticks to the scale)?


GilesAnt wrote: Fri Jul 01, 2022 3:58 pm .......not to mention what exactly do you mean by pop music? Would that include blues for example - a fertile ground for non scale harmonies

With pop music I mean recent top 40 hits in the UK and US charts. Of course there are blues influences in many pop hits, but that's not what blues enthusiasts would recognise as "their" music.

Really liking the concept of a "nostalgia barrier". I'd place it from around 2009/10 onwards when Electronic Dance Music (EDM) was starting to infiltrate the pop charts in a big way. Everything in EDM is much simpler: melodies, harmonies and lyrics. What's more sophisticated is the sound design aspect which is obviously not the subject of this discussion.
Uncovered Pitch
Poster
Posts: 22 Joined: Fri Jan 16, 2004 12:00 am Location: London, UK

Re: Song writing tip

Post by merlyn »

MaestroMikeT wrote: Mon Jul 04, 2022 9:48 am These are very far from arbitrary “non-scale” chords! The F-Fm is a very old, very beaten route to returning to the tonic chord, being IV maj - IV minor - I maj (or eventually the III minor en route to the sub dominant group, then dominant and release to I.
Also the E maj in C is essentially raising the III from minor to dominant seventh to guide to VI minor, also a very characteristic harmonic path.

Sure, yes. I thought using examples from well known songs would be more accessible. With E in C and Fm in C it's the same note that's been changed. G# in E which is the same note, although spelled as Ab in Fm.

If we keep all the notes from C and change G to G# we have A harmonic minor, which is closely related to C. E and Fm then come from A harmonic minor.
merlyn
Frequent Poster
Posts: 639 Joined: Thu Nov 07, 2019 2:15 am
It ain't what you don't know. It's what you know that ain't so.

Re: Song writing tip

Post by MaestroMikeT »

That's not correct, I'm afraid, Fm doesn't stem from A minor, it's a chromatic harmonic route if you're in C - you can say it's from the harmonic major scale, a scale with all but the sixth tone equal to the "regular" major diatonic. Of course you could use Fm (and whatever fancies you :) ) in A minor, but that's not the point here.
MaestroMikeT
Regular
Posts: 50 Joined: Thu May 07, 2020 3:24 pm

Re: Song writing tip

Post by merlyn »

Suit yourself. I don't think the chords mentioned in the original post are arbitrary. Scales that are near C are A harmonic minor, A melodic minor and (seems odd but) C minor.

The chords from the original post were :

D major -- A melodic minor
E major -- A harmonic minor
F minor -- A harmonic minor (we can agree to differ)
Bb major -- C minor
Ab major -- C minor
G minor -- C minor

and A major -- that doesn't fit into one of those scales and would be V of ii

So anyway, got any examples? :D
merlyn
Frequent Poster
Posts: 639 Joined: Thu Nov 07, 2019 2:15 am
It ain't what you don't know. It's what you know that ain't so.

Re: Song writing tip

Post by merlyn »

So here's the verse ofSpace Oddity (This is ground control to Major Tom, you've really made the grade ...):

||: C / / / | C / / / | E / / / | E / / / |
| F / / / | F / / / | F / / / | Fm / / / |
| C / / / | C / / / | F / / / | Fm / / / |
| C / / / | C / / / :||

Pop music has its own rules, like a fourteen bar verse. :D The E is not a dominant going to Am, it goes to F. Sure there are in-depth analyses of a ivm chord, but does that really apply here?

It's similar to Creep and when these things come up often we can say they're pop staples :

||: G / / / | G / / / | B / / / | B / / / |
| C / / / | C / / / | Cm / / / | Cm / / / :||
merlyn
Frequent Poster
Posts: 639 Joined: Thu Nov 07, 2019 2:15 am
It ain't what you don't know. It's what you know that ain't so.

Re: Song writing tip

Post by RichardT »

Harmonic analysis can be useful - and it's also worth remembering that most music is composed without using explicit harmonic analysis (implicit is a different thing).
RichardT
Frequent Poster (Level2)
Posts: 2319 Joined: Fri Aug 13, 2004 12:00 am Location: London UK
Post Reply