Showing posts with label Songwriting. Show all posts
Showing posts with label Songwriting. Show all posts

Wednesday, June 7, 2017

Audience's Perception Of SONGS

Lyrics Born at the 2006 Coachella Valley Music...
Lyrics Born at the 2006 Coachella Valley Music and Arts Festival
(Photo credit: Wikipedia)
Any songwriter knows that a song will not make it without having well-written music and perfectly crafted lyrics. But the interaction between music and lyrics in a song poses two questions. The first is which is more important and the second is which should be written first. Nevertheless, the second question is not truly an issue; as it is simply a matter of personal preference and habit. The question that really needs answering is in fact the first: “Which is more important?!”

To answer this question, we have to examine the audience perception of songs. Songs are written for people to hear them; therefore the way they identify with songs is most relevant and crucial to the songwriting process. A good songwriter should examine his/her audience beforehand and, consequently, shape the song to be as easily conceived as possible by its intended audience.
As I belong to western music by education (classical music) and to oriental music by birth (being from Egypt), I have examined -as deeply as I could- the perception of songs by both Arabic listeners and European listeners. My conclusion is that those two different cultures produced very differently biased people.

The Arabic culture and legacy is based heavily on poetry while music remained trivial. Consequently, for Arabic listeners the lyrics come first and music is reduced to a melodic vehicle for the lyrics with the least amount of arrangement possible. Lyrics come first for Arabic listeners!

On the other hand, Europe’s music heritage is enormous with a lot of genius composers who will always be remembered. At the same time, Europe's great poets used the type of language that today needs a lot of simplification to understand. The music reaches the European listener before the lyrics!
So, does this mean that one can write "bad" lyrics for European listeners and get away with it?! Of course NOT!! They eventually catch up. Also, Arabic listeners will not listen to a song with bad music. The idea is that if your audiences care less for lyrics, then they wouldn’t “appreciate” a complex lyric. In fact, they wouldn’t understand it and will label it as “bad”. It has to be “good” but not “complex”. It’s all about complexity. Arabic listeners will settle down with a nice melody that fits the lyrics well. It has to be nice, but it CAN’T be complex!! My mother thinks that Dvorak’s “New World Symphony” is “louder” than music should be. I think she meant to say: “too complicated for music”. Conversely, European listeners will not settle for a nice melody, you have to have strong chord progressions, a powerful base line and a strong drum line. 

So, I write more complicated lyrics for Arabic listeners and more complicated music for European listeners. Study YOUR OWN audiences and see what they like and to which side they are biased, so you know how to adjust your song’s complexity. But beware; sometimes “less complicated” means “more difficult to write”…Wish you simple songwriting!!

Author: Mahmoud Ibrahim

Wednesday, March 15, 2017

5 SONGWRITING Tips For The Lazy

It's funny, being a songwriter myself, I always find that writing songs can sometimes be a chore. But why does it feel this way? Isn't this supposed to be my passion? Isn't this supposed to be something that I never get bored of?

… well, not exactly. Everything gets boring once in a while, even the things that you’re most passionate about. So every so often I like to take the lazy man's route to doing things. And surprisingly, I often produce some very good results!

Old style songwriting
Old Style Songwriting -  Flickr - whimsyglimmer
So listen up. If you newbie at songwriting, or even if you have been at it for a while -- I'm going to a couple of simple tricks that will help you start the writing process within minutes.

Here we go…

1) Review a particular situation in your day. It could be at work, during your travels, or at home. It could be with your workmates, your family or your friends. Just any situation that affected you in either a positive or negative way.

An example of this would be "when you're at work, your boss just keeps hounding you. But, the only thing that keeps you going throughout the day is that you know that somebody in the office has a crush on you"

(the above is a very dry example… but try to work with me here!)

2) Write down as many words as you can think of that relate to your situation.

Let's follow the example from earlier on:

anger, pain, sad, happy, excitement, nervousness, anxious, misery, impatience, relaxation, goofy, sophisticated, annoying, frustrating, antagonising, fancy, sexy, cool, pretty, smile, etc, etc… you get the point :-)

3) Write down random short sentences about your situation including the words that you mentioned him step 2. So let's continue in our little experiment…

“ the way he talked to me really angers me”
“ if only he knew the pain I suffered inside”
“ when I see her pretty eyes light up it makes me smile”
“ I have to act cool and sophisticated -- don't want to get frustrated”
“ he doesn't know what makes my day go by”
“ don't want to be in this misery for much longer”

Etc, etc. at this point it's important to note that you don't have to use all the words that you mentioned earlier in step two. As you can see I’ve even started to make up my own lines *without* any of the words too! Sometimes, I'm rhyming the words without even realizing. And this is exactly where the magic starts to happen…

You can easily turn this idea into a full-fledged song. Use rhymezone.com to help you find words that rhyme… and also other related words as well.

My example was very average and simplified -- but you can use an example that's a little more dramatic. You should really get wild with your ideas! Really, just let loose.

4) Listen to a ‘backing track’ (an instrumental of a song) that you have NO CLUE about. While it’s playing, make up a melody. Doesn’t have to be perfect, just create a melody on the fly. You don’t have to sing any lyrics either. Just ‘humm’ or ‘laaa’ a tune out until you’re hearts content.

Why do this? This is an exercise that will subconsciously preparing you to create melodies for you’re own chord sequences in the next step.



5) Create a SIMPLE chord progression on the guitar or keyboard. When I say simple, I mean *simple*. Maybe TWO chords for the verse and TWO chords for the chorus. Now create a melody on top of that chord progression. Record the song on tape. There you have it.

NOTE: if you don’t play an instrument, then hook up with someone who does. After all, you pretty much have half the song now :-)

Still think it’s difficult conceiving an idea? Want to know more? I have *plenty more* that I want to share with you…



Tuesday, September 20, 2016

How to Create the Perfect Structure for Your SONGS

Some people have a knack for song structure.  Taylor Swift, for example, began by writing poetry as a child. After teaching herself to play the guitar she began putting her poems to music, structuring them as songs. Of course, not everyone has Taylor’s innate musical skills. At the same time, you don’t need to attend college and earn a music degree or take years of lessons to learn the basics of how to create the perfect structure for your songs.

Change (Taylor Swift song)
Change (Taylor Swift song) (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

What does song structure actually mean?  Structure refers to the way the sections of the song are arranged. Structure gives the song its form and optimizes the emotional or musical impact. Different genres of music have different structure. For example, a symphony has a different structure that a pop song. An R&B ballad has a different structure than a rap. So the type of genre you write in will affect the ultimate structure of your song.

Typically, songs employ repetition to make them catchy and to emphasize the song’s emotional point. Structure is also used to enhance the story telling element of a song, making the listener want to hear what’s coming next.

Before you can decide on the structure of your song, you need to know the components to use:

The Introduction: Usually an instrumental using  chords from the verse or chorus but famous lyricists like George Gershwin regularly started his compositions with a sung intro.

Verse: Usually contains four to 8 chords. In songwriting terms, the story of the song is told through the verses.

Chorus: Also called the refrain, the chorus is also usually four to eight chords and has a primary musical phrase which is repeated. In Red Hot Chili Pepppers’ “Dani California,” the refrain is:

California rest in peace
Simultaneous release
California show your teeth
She’s my priestess, I’m your priest

The chorus as a distinctly different musical dynamic that the verses. In songwriting terms, this is the emotional center of the song. Typically, a phrase from the chorus is what people remember.



Bridge: a musical connection between a verse and chorus or between a chorus and verse. Can be used to smThis is especially useful when you have a key change from one to the other, or the transition from verse to chorus or vice versa isn’t particularly smooth.

Middle 8: A musical or lyrical interlude that can prevent a song from seeming monotonous or to add a different emotional element.

Outro: The “bow out” of a song. Often it’s just a reiteration of the verse or chorus but can be totally unique.  The elements of structure are just a guideline. How you use them is based on your talent and artistic vision



Monday, June 20, 2016

3 Simple But Powerful SONGWRITING Tips

Do you feel frustrated or unfulfilled with the songs you have written? Do you think your songs have to conform to a certain standard before they are any good? If so, what exactly are you comparing them to? You may find you have an unrealistic expectation of yourself or what you think a song is or should be.

Songs & Songwriting_1647
Photo  by Sterling College 
If you are unhappy with the songs you have written or think your songs are not what they should be, examine these three songwriting tips to focus your attention on clarifying what you think you want to gain from your songs.


1./ Why Do You Want To Write A Song?

What do you want to communicate? Don't dismiss this, answering this question is more important than you think. If you know why you are doing something, your path will be a lot clearer. For instance, do you see yourself performing on some late night TV rock show with the audience going wild for more, or do you want to write a romantic love song to impress your partner? Or maybe you want to perform an acoustic set down at the local bar? The answer will influence your behaviour and your writing style.

2./ Write About What You Know And Do What You Know.

Do you know how to put chord progressions together on the piano and improvise over the top or do you know how to link drum machines and turn tables together to a whole plethora of midi equipment to pump out the biggest, baddest beats this side of Georgia? There is no difference. Your song will have more style and impact if you can find the courage to be yourself and use those talents you have today, not in what you think you should be doing, or what your song should sound like.

3./ Develop Your Habit Of Songwriting.

How are you coming up with your ideas? Repetition increases the likely hood of repetition, that means the more you do something, the more you are likely to do it. The more you get into the habit of writing down lyrics in a notebook that you carry with you at all times, the more likely you are to write down lyrics in a notebook that you carry with you at all times. Get into the habit of writing down your thoughts when your inspiration strikes because ideas always strike when you least expect them.

Your inspiration could be in the form of a lyric, a sound you heard in the street, an unusual chord change you heard on the radio or a rhythm your mum was tapping out on her coffee cup. By doing this, you can consult your own wisdom as and when you need it. These are the gems that will determine your style and show you your way forward. 

Disciplining yourself to these three songwriting tips will give you confidence in yourself and your music. Realize that to write a song,  you do not need to be anybody other than who you are, beauty is in the eye of the beholder. Whether you are beating out a rhythm on a pair of spoons or bowing an upright punk guitar accompanied by someone tap dancing in a different time signature, songwriting is subjective. Someone somewhere will love whatever you do, someone somewhere will absolutely trash it as the most unbelievable pile of garbage to ever appear on the music scene in the history of music. The most important question you need to ask yourself at the end of the day is, do you like it?