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Songwriter's Melodies

Jerry Rasmussen 02 Nov 04 - 10:11 PM
GUEST,.gargoyle 02 Nov 04 - 10:22 PM
Phil Cooper 02 Nov 04 - 10:51 PM
Peace 02 Nov 04 - 11:06 PM
Jerry Rasmussen 02 Nov 04 - 11:18 PM
Peace 02 Nov 04 - 11:26 PM
Peace 02 Nov 04 - 11:29 PM
Jerry Rasmussen 02 Nov 04 - 11:58 PM
Peace 03 Nov 04 - 12:12 AM
Little Robyn 03 Nov 04 - 12:20 AM
Alaska Mike 03 Nov 04 - 12:26 AM
DonMeixner 03 Nov 04 - 12:48 AM
Leadfingers 03 Nov 04 - 04:36 AM
George Papavgeris 03 Nov 04 - 05:46 AM
greg stephens 03 Nov 04 - 06:41 AM
Jeanie 03 Nov 04 - 06:54 AM
muppitz 03 Nov 04 - 07:27 AM
Vixen 03 Nov 04 - 08:16 AM
George Papavgeris 03 Nov 04 - 08:31 AM
mg 03 Nov 04 - 02:39 PM
George Papavgeris 03 Nov 04 - 03:26 PM
GUEST,chinmusic 03 Nov 04 - 03:38 PM
George Papavgeris 03 Nov 04 - 05:54 PM
GUEST,chinmusic 03 Nov 04 - 11:05 PM
GUEST,Songster Bob 03 Nov 04 - 11:44 PM
chris nightbird childs 03 Nov 04 - 11:48 PM
Alaska Mike 04 Nov 04 - 09:44 PM
Vixen 05 Nov 04 - 08:26 AM
Jerry Rasmussen 05 Nov 04 - 09:51 AM
Vixen 05 Nov 04 - 10:44 AM
Scabby Douglas 05 Nov 04 - 12:05 PM
Blissfully Ignorant 05 Nov 04 - 03:42 PM
Nigel Parsons 05 Nov 04 - 03:57 PM
DaveA 05 Nov 04 - 06:18 PM
Bert 05 Nov 04 - 07:56 PM
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Subject: Songwriter's Melodies
From: Jerry Rasmussen
Date: 02 Nov 04 - 10:11 PM

I've been in umpty-million songwriters workshop (give or take a few) and the one thing that always strikes me is that people rarely talk about where the melody comes from. They'll (we'll) talk about where the inspiration for the song comes from and maybe a little about how we approached writing the song, taking apart a few lines to talk about how we put them together. But, as far as I can tell, the melody is about 50% of the song. Without the melody, we'd all be writing poetry. (And pretty lousy poetry, if I look at my own lyrics, stripped of the melody.) I believe the reason why people rarely discuss where the melody and chord changes come from is because it is much more intuitive than the lyrics. I find it difficult to talk about the melody, myself.

Anyone in this place what can share their thoughts on creating a melody to a song that they're writing?

Jerry


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Subject: RE: Songwriter's Melodies
From: GUEST,.gargoyle
Date: 02 Nov 04 - 10:22 PM

ALL "original" melodies have been stolen. (Consicously - or none)

All song writer's themes have been expressed before. (230 generations of mankind have yeilded few common themes after Homer the penulimate plagerist.)

Sincerely,
Gargoyle

You are a troll - you are stirring up a stink-pile-of-Sh-t that has been discussed before - why do you want to distrub a perfectly happy pile of B.S. with a valid trad question?


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Subject: RE: Songwriter's Melodies
From: Phil Cooper
Date: 02 Nov 04 - 10:51 PM

Jerry,

   Back when I was fancying myself as a budding songwriter (I have sheafs of world weary adolescent songs in a folder that will never be heard) I came up with words pretty easily to existing tunes. But I also didn't think they stacked up to the words that originally came with them. These days I have come up with some interesting melodies, but not put words with them. Sometimes I've fit ballad texts to the new tunes and they seem to have worked. But yes, the tune is half the battle in songwriting. The old cadaemon (sp?) recordings of recited ballad texts could not hold a candle to the texts when sung.
   Woody Guthrie's habit of fitting a set of words to an existing tune and then changing a note here and there certainly worked for him. My significant other writes the words first and then does the melody. Her melodies seem to reflect things she has listened to over the years. One of my songwriting heroes from the '60's '70's, Tom Rapp of Pearls Before Swine, said he came up with the words and tunes simultaneously. Don't short change your own words and tunes. I still think fondly of the show we did with you at the Cafe Carpe many years ago now.


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Subject: RE: Songwriter's Melodies
From: Peace
Date: 02 Nov 04 - 11:06 PM

Simultaneously. A phrase may start the process--either words or melody; maybe a riff or chord progression; a hook--and then things take shape or not.

On occasion I have heard a melody in my head and had to get someplace real fast to use a guitar or keyboard. That cements it. Occasionally, I have had a stanza done before getting to the harmonic instrument (will a relative minor sound better than a major?). Neat question Jerry. Wish I had a better answer than this.


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Subject: RE: Songwriter's Melodies
From: Jerry Rasmussen
Date: 02 Nov 04 - 11:18 PM

Hey, brucie:

With only a couple of exceptions, every song I've ever written came with words and melody together. Where did the melody come from? The well. That's the best answer I can give. I've spent my life filling the well with music I love and it has become a part of who I am. It is my inner language. As I work on the lyrics of a song, refining them, there are refinements that come with the melody that I began with, but almost without exception, the basic framework of the melody remains the same. There have been two or three instances where I ended up being dissatisfied with the melody and tried on several others for size, finally chosing a new melody. I've even more rarely changed the rhythm of the song, or changed the song from a major ot a minor key.

Gargoyle is right, of course. There are no "new" melodies, and everything that we create is indebted to previous creations. That doesn't mean that we are consciously plagiarizing someone else's work. My muse can sniff out a used melody without missing a beat.

Jerry


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Subject: RE: Songwriter's Melodies
From: Peace
Date: 02 Nov 04 - 11:26 PM

Ain't it a heartbreak when you compose a new song that works? Good words, dynamite melody, and two weeks later you hear the melody on radio and realize ya lifted someone's tune?


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Subject: RE: Songwriter's Melodies
From: Peace
Date: 02 Nov 04 - 11:29 PM

Gargoyle is smack on the money with that remark. Dipping into the well of song: I have found myself on more than one occasion working with a melody only to phone friends and play it. On more than one occasion friends have said, "Sounds like such-and-such by so-and-so." As I age and my memory too, I need to phone more frequently. Now it borders paranoia. LOL


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Subject: RE: Songwriter's Melodies
From: Jerry Rasmussen
Date: 02 Nov 04 - 11:58 PM

When you get as old as I am, brucie, you'll experience the ultimate embarassment... plagiarizing yourself.

Jerry


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Subject: RE: Songwriter's Melodies
From: Peace
Date: 03 Nov 04 - 12:12 AM

LOL.

Jerry, I had a day a few years back when I did just that. Fantastic melody (meaning I loved it); it was great (at least in my own mind; and if ya don't think the song is great, then why write it, right?). So, I get halfway through the lyrics and it strikes me that I had heard the melody before. I got seriously ticked; said a few bad words and threw the writing into the garbage. A few days later, boom! I had heard the melody before. It was something I wrote when I was about fifteen--and had never been able to find the words for. Finally found the words, figured I'd heisted the melody, destroyed the words, etc. So, I now have a neat melody that I know is mine. Words are in the dump.


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Subject: RE: Songwriter's Melodies
From: Little Robyn
Date: 03 Nov 04 - 12:20 AM

I wrote a song about 10 years back, struggled to make a new melody for it, finally content that it was mine - and the next week I realized I had rewritten 'The Star of the County Down'!!! Curses!
Well, it was slightly different but not enough.
Robyn


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Subject: RE: Songwriter's Melodies
From: Alaska Mike
Date: 03 Nov 04 - 12:26 AM

I agree with Gargoyle, most, if not all melodies are stolen in whole or (more likely) in part from existing songs.

* One of the tricks I use in my meager attempt at writing original melody is to compose without my guitar. I sing the melody over and over until I have it the way I want it, then I pull out my guitar and try to figure out which chords to use. This helps me to be free of my instrumental limitations.

* When I want inspiration for a new melody, I will sometimes use a deck of cards. Each card corresponds with one of the 12 notes in the chromatic scale. Ace=A, Duece=Bb, Tray=B, etc. with the King being a wild card (any note you want). Shuffle the deck and deal out 8 cards. Once you determine which notes they represent, play them in various orders until you find an interesting start to your melody. This can be the beginning of your song or some other part. You decide. If it doesn't work, deal out 8 more cards and try again.

* My last suggestion is to take a piece of sheet music that you enjoy the melody to and re-write the notes exactly backwards. Do this for several bars and then play what you have written and see if it gives you a starting place for your melody. If not try a different piece of music.

These are just a few ideas that many song writers use when their particular "muse" ain't working well. Inspiration is a wonderful thing to have and I appreciate those who can call upon it with ease. But perspiration works for all the rest of us. Keep trying different methods until you come up with a melody that suits the lyrics of your song. I hope this helps.

Best wishes from Dutch Harbor, Alaska in the Aleutian Islands,

Mike


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Subject: RE: Songwriter's Melodies
From: DonMeixner
Date: 03 Nov 04 - 12:48 AM

I tend to fall in the "The Melody was good enough for Woody, It's good enough for me" pile of song writers. There are a few song I've written that use trad melodies "The Mother's Kiss" for instance.

And others that I think are my own tho' with inspiration from another source. Dig into "Photographs far enough and you may find a snatch or two of "Easy and Slow."

I will very often be driving and singing to a melody on the radio that I have found I like. Only I'll be singing made up as you go lyrics and wishing I had a tape recorder.

I'm leaning toward the "Find the Melody" first school and add the words as you go.

Don


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Subject: RE: Songwriter's Melodies
From: Leadfingers
Date: 03 Nov 04 - 04:36 AM

One thing I am NOT is a songwriter - However a little while ago , I had a few attempts at setting poems to music . MY procedure was to read through until I had got a rhythm that felt right , then put a Chord sequence to fit the rhythm , then improvise round the Chord progression till I had a workable melody . I based this on my experience of playing Trad Jazz , which is simply improvising a Counter Melody or harmony round an existing structure .


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Subject: RE: Songwriter's Melodies
From: George Papavgeris
Date: 03 Nov 04 - 05:46 AM

Melodies usually come first to me. I spend time with the guitar doing runs just for practice ("faffing around" I call it), trying unusual chord sequences, and now an then a riff pops up. If it is interesting, I follow it to see where it takes me. Eventually, a tune develops, and I pass it through a number of filters (wife, daughter) before I decide that it's original enough. Occasionally the tune may have recognisable elements of other tunes (mine or others'), and I go out of my way to amend it and avoid the crossover.

Where I am lucky, I guess, is that with my varied musical background (Greek folk, Byzantine chant, mediaeval music, plus trad folk and rock and Italian/French pop of the 60's, and etc etc etc), the influences/ingredients are themselves varied enough to help with originality in the final outcome.

I know a composer who has written some wonderful music and has taught me much about composition, especially on the subject of matching words to music. An excellent rule I picked up from him is: Have the tune go up in pitch where the inflection of the word, or the stress of the sentence is. Examples (think of the tunes): "YESterday..." - "How MUCH is that doggie in the window". It helps the music fit/express the words better.

However, we part company with my composer friend on one subject: He refuses to listen to other music but his own, because he wants to "retain a purity in his creation". I am the opposite - I listen to as much and as varied music as I can, because that's where the elements come from, for me to "mix" my tunes.

It's like all possible notes, riffs etc are grains of sand in the desert. Sometimes the wind blows them into little dunes - tunes. And sometimes I happen to be looking in that direction and recognise a good dune-tune and make it my own. I can't control the process any more than I can control the wind.

Which is why I admire deeply, and I mean DEEPLY, those craftsmen like Gershwin, Rogers/Hammerstein, Nat King Cole etc, who could sit down, 9-to-5-like, and produce masterpieces almost on demand.


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Subject: RE: Songwriter's Melodies
From: greg stephens
Date: 03 Nov 04 - 06:41 AM

El Greko: I think you have it the wrong way round: the stress is "How MUCH is that doggie in the window" because the tune goes up there, not the other way round. We are so used to singing that line, we thinks that's the natural stress. But I dont think it is, I have just been trying out a simple market questions such as "How much are them cabbages then?" and I think a powerful stress on MUCH would be very unnatural.I dont there are any very strong stresses in the line, but they would be on How and Cabb if anything.
    I think you should give your attention to "Yes we have no bananas"....I think the main protagonist in this song is Greek!


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Subject: RE: Songwriter's Melodies
From: Jeanie
Date: 03 Nov 04 - 06:54 AM

Thanks for those tips, Alaska Mike and El Grek: the one about matching a stressed word to a change in pitch, and the random playing cards idea. I can't wait to try that one out.

I'm getting back into this after a space of some 30 years. I certainly agree that the more styles of music you listen to (and perform), the better - for all kinds of reasons, not only for songwriting. I'm working my way through a very thick workbook at the moment, "Improvising Blues Piano" - it goes into all the different chord structures and so on. I never learned music "properly", so this is an eye-opener to me and I'm discovering interesting new (to me !) patterns and sequences of notes to try out. Great fun.

I totally agree about the great songwriters you mentioned. Funny that should come up. Just this morning I've been listening to Rod Stewart's CD, "The Great American Songbook" and I was thinking how (apparently) effortlessly perfect those words and melodies are: Gershwin "They can't take that away from me", Kahn "It had to be You", Cole Porter "Every Time We Say Goodbye"....Jerome Kern...Hoagy Carmichael... Forgive me for being "heretical" on a folkie website, but I have to say, those songwriters are high at the top of my favourites list. I think it's for the very reason being talked about here: the words and melody are inseparable and make a perfect whole.

- jeanie


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Subject: RE: Songwriter's Melodies
From: muppitz
Date: 03 Nov 04 - 07:27 AM

I have only written a handfull of songs, but they have come to me in varying forms.
The last song I 'wrote', (and I say that because the tune and guitar chords are mine but the words are from a "Trad" poem) I had a chord sequence which I just could not put my own words to, but once I found some, the melody was pretty easy, as I just sung what fitted the chords.
The song before that, which actually contains my own lyrics, I have to dedicate to my mobile phone, there is a story to this...
I am constantly humming and singing random tunes and they rarely make any sense, however, at work one day whilst filing some paperwork, I realised I was repeating an unfamilier tune, but I knew that I would forget it before I got home, but with my mobile having all the bells and whistles, I was able to sing this tune into it, recording it to be used at a later time, thus enabling me to get on with my working day without trying to hum a random tune until I got home.
However, I was so bored at work that day that I was able to write the lyrics at my desk, so I thought that was a fairly productive day!

But back to the original post, if I get chords before a melody, I find the melody to come easy as the chords become a guide, but if it's the other way around, I can usually 'find' the chords and maybe a little tweaking of the original melody would be needed.

Hope that makes sense.

muppitz x


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Subject: RE: Songwriter's Melodies
From: Vixen
Date: 03 Nov 04 - 08:16 AM

Did it again, Jerry!

Usually, I get a melody with the words attached. Sometimes I get a melody, but I rarely do anything with melodies that arrive without words, because I can't notate them quickly or accurately enough to capture them. Sometimes, I'm in a mood and doinking around on an instrument, and something comes to me; in that case, the instrument is the inspiration. Sometimes (usually in the car on longish trips) I just start singing something, and my voice is the vehicle for a melody.

When I'm stuck for where to go in developing a melody, I generally try what I call "artificial" writing--create a phrase that contains only intervals of 4ths, or, say, the verse starts on the 5th note and moves up, I'll start the chorus on the 3rd note and move down. Stuff based in music theory.

As Jerry says, I've got a well (not deep, not full, but at least wet!) of tunes, and my muse (well cared-for and well fed) sometimes pulls up some olio of notes for me to play with.

I like the card trick...I'm going to try that!

V


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Subject: RE: Songwriter's Melodies
From: George Papavgeris
Date: 03 Nov 04 - 08:31 AM

When you get melody and words together, it's magic. It happens very rarely for me, but the best example I have is "the Flowers & the Guns". There, the inherent rhythm and intonation of the repeating line "Where are the flowers that we put - into the muzzles of the guns", immediately suggested the tune to go with them. The whole thing took form in front of my hardly-believing eyes in 10 minutes, as I was smoking a cigarette in our company's "smoker" and doodling on a piece of paper.

You're right, Greg - I used the wrong example there. "They CAN'T take that AWAY from me" would have been a better one. Anyway, the rule can be broken, and often is, without harm.

There's another rule too, but this has more to do with rhythm: Always match the dominant beat in the metre to the accent on the words. Too often I hear lyrics that break this rule, with atrocious results, ending up with words being accented unnaturally just to fit the pattern.


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Subject: RE: Songwriter's Melodies
From: mg
Date: 03 Nov 04 - 02:39 PM

yes, never never or almost never never have the accent in the wrong place. It is very very jarring. Also have most if not all of the words rhyme exactly. Also don't have a high density of syllables to notes..sparse works better. My opinion only. mg


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Subject: RE: Songwriter's Melodies
From: George Papavgeris
Date: 03 Nov 04 - 03:26 PM

...and one I subscribe to also, Mary


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Subject: RE: Songwriter's Melodies
From: GUEST,chinmusic
Date: 03 Nov 04 - 03:38 PM

I agree with you, Jerry, that melody writing is not only intuitive, but also an underrated aspect on discussions about music. Some folks just have a facility it, while others seem to have more of an inclination towards lyrics. Of course, the best of both worlds, is the combination of the two. For example, Gordon Lightfoot is an excellent wordsmith, but what stands out for me are his captivating melodies. The first thing that has to grab my ear when I listen to music, is always the melody. There are exceptions to this rule, particularly when the words are just so well crafted, and then I can live with less than a stellar melody. I do love great songwriting, but I need melody to connect and invite me into the song. I think we can learn and improve our skills as songwriters through experience and the benefit of workshops, but I don't think this may be true for writing good melodies. However, if some folks have discovered the opposite is true, I'm all ears.


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Subject: RE: Songwriter's Melodies
From: George Papavgeris
Date: 03 Nov 04 - 05:54 PM

Not through workshops, perhaps, GUEST,chinmusic - I agree. But through increased exposure to different styles of music. For a crude example, take the songs of George Harrison after the Beatles' trips to the East where they were exposed to Eastern cultures/music. They may or may not be better than their earlier stuff, but they are certainly different.

Exposure & Experimentation are the key.


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Subject: RE: Songwriter's Melodies
From: GUEST,chinmusic
Date: 03 Nov 04 - 11:05 PM

Well said, El Greko. It's not a wise thing to put limitations on anyone's growth, in any field of endeavour. This is certainly isn't a black and white issue, but one of the worst things in this life, is to underestimate anyone's potential.


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Subject: RE: Songwriter's Melodies
From: GUEST,Songster Bob
Date: 03 Nov 04 - 11:44 PM

I tend to write the words first, mainly because the most time I get undistracted is on the subway on the way to work, and they don't much take to guitar playing on it. Sometimes words and music come simultaneously, and a few times I've come up with a tune first. On one occasion, I wrote a tune for a Kipling poem, decided it didn't work (the poem itself required a 'dramatic' pause that was hard to 'pull off' in song), and then reused the tune for a completely different subject (i.e., I went from 'the bell buoy' to 'Barrabas'). And it worked just fine, thanks.

I have used traditional tunes (tend to do that with topical songs, so folks don't need to hear 'em to sing 'em), original tunes, and borrowed ones. Example: I was doing a spreadsheet for the taxes one year, and picked up my guitar to take a break (file/save first, of course) and launched into "When I was young and in my prime/ I left my home in Caroline..." But I played the IV chord instead of the V7 chord, which interrupted my train of thought. So I had the "in my prime" and wondered "what was I thinking when I was young and foolish?" Well, for one thing, I had lots more time then, so it became:

When I was young and in my prime,
I thought my world was made of time.
Long years have passed without a doubt,
As I let a world of time go running out.

The tune started like the traditional one, but followed the 'wrong chord' into a different territory. The chorus tune ended up a lot like the chorus of "When You and I Were Young, Maggie," which tune I use as the final guitar or banjo break when I sing it.

So one way to make a new song is to start an old one and go wrong somewhere, and see where it leads.

But the metaphor of filling and drinking from the well is a good one. In fact, it sounds like a possible song to me.

Let's see, "I went to the well once too often / Nothing there but dusty dirt. / Now I have to fill the bucket somehow / With tears that fall from pain and hurt."

For some reason, that looks awful. Let me play with it, eh?

Bob Clayton


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Subject: RE: Songwriter's Melodies
From: chris nightbird childs
Date: 03 Nov 04 - 11:48 PM

It is usually the opposite for me Bob. I get music first. I play the chords over and over while singing absolute nonsense. Soon the nonsense turn into lyrics... whenever I sing something that makes sense, I write it down. Then I get a completed song...


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Subject: RE: Songwriter's Melodies
From: Alaska Mike
Date: 04 Nov 04 - 09:44 PM

I have written songs where the lyrics came first, others which started as a melody, and occasionally a song would come to me with both. I have discovered that a note pad and a hand held cassette recorder come in very handy when a "spark" of a song starts to glow.

I have gotten up in the middle of the night and typed lyrics into my computer so I don't forget them. I have hummed and whistled a fraction of a new tune over and over and over again until I can find the batteries for my recorder and get it down. And sadly, on occasion, I have had great ideas for words or music that have become lost.

I seldom get writer's block. Sometimes I get so busy with other things that I let my song writing go into hibernation.   But I am constantly finding interesting subjects (either real or imagined) that cry out for me to write songs about. This reminds me, I better get to work on my next CD if I'm going to have it ready for England next August.

Best wishes,
Mike


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Subject: RE: Songwriter's Melodies
From: Vixen
Date: 05 Nov 04 - 08:26 AM

"I have gotten up in the middle of the night and typed lyrics into my computer so I don't forget them." I'm too lazy to get out of bed. I keep a pencil and pad on my bedside table, and I've learned to write passably well in the dark. Reynaud says, "Why don't you just turn on the d...d light?" but if I do, I won't be able to get back to sleep, and maybe get more of the song...My muse likes to wake me up in the middle of the night. She's also very productive just when I'm in that liminal place of falling asleep or waking up.

"I have hummed and whistled a fraction of a new tune over and over and over again until I can find the batteries for my recorder and get it down." I have stopped at gas stations and used the pay phones to call my answering machine to leave a fragment of tune on it.

And yes, stuff does get lost, sometimes even when I do manage to record it. But I figure it's all in those brain cells somewhere, and it will no doubt return, even though I may not recognize it when it does.

just my $0.02, fwiw

V


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Subject: RE: Songwriter's Melodies
From: Jerry Rasmussen
Date: 05 Nov 04 - 09:51 AM

Hey, Vixen:

You write songs the same way that I do. I've "written" countless songs in my sleep and like you, I write them down on a pad. The other day, I actually wrote what I think may become the chorus to a song, Meet Me In Jerusalem, while in the Dentist's chair. You can't discount any time or place as not being conducive to creativity. You'd think though that you could oly write blues in a dentist's chair.

Because melody almost always comes with the words for me, and I am very limited in being to write music, I tape the fragment of a new song when I have a chance. Sometimes I don't, and I'll write down a primitive notation of the melody, so I at least have the pattern of the notes when they go up or down. But then, I have a rather cavalier attitude about melodies when I am starting a song. I figure that if I can't remember the melody later, then it is by definition unmemorable. And, who wants a song with an unmemorable melody?

As for that border between sleep and wakefulness, I find that a particularly productive time for creativity. Maybe it's because I am not fully awake, with my mind not focused on the smallness of much of our daily living. A dream can stimulate emotions and visions (as dreams are mostly visual) that transcend the "practical" mindset.

Maybe I should take a nap now and see if there's any more of Meet Me In Jerusalem waiting for me...

Jerry


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Subject: RE: Songwriter's Melodies
From: Vixen
Date: 05 Nov 04 - 10:44 AM

Driving/Riding in the car is my second most prolific creative space/time. I keep a pad and pencil there, too.


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Subject: RE: Songwriter's Melodies
From: Scabby Douglas
Date: 05 Nov 04 - 12:05 PM

It's hard though...

I spent a fair bit of time last year, working with a Scott Skinner air, trying to make my words for a song fit, and eventually got something I was happy with. Even though I was aware that I had done a certain amount of violence to the original melody in order to make it work for voice instead of fiddle, I could stand it as a piece of work.

Last week, or thereabouts, a friend said: I just realised where that melody came from - "Una Paloma Blanca"! (UK pop song of the 70's)


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Subject: RE: Songwriter's Melodies
From: Blissfully Ignorant
Date: 05 Nov 04 - 03:42 PM

For me, it just comes. Which is a bugger, really, because it always comes with notes i can't sing...

I think my muse is stoned. Permanantly. :0)


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Subject: RE: Songwriter's Melodies
From: Nigel Parsons
Date: 05 Nov 04 - 03:57 PM

The pen & pad are a good idea, but a recording 'Walkman' is much easier, especially if you've got a tune as well.

Or, use a 'dictaphone' (no jokes please!)

Nigel


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Subject: RE: Songwriter's Melodies
From: DaveA
Date: 05 Nov 04 - 06:18 PM

An interesting sidelight to this thread..

John Denver did an acoustic gig at Melbourne's Troubadour in the early eighties & got talking (over a glass or two of red) about how he writes the songs.

He asserted that for him it wasn't a formal composing process but rather a matter of "finding" (his word) the song that already existed within him. And he cited an example of going trail riding with friends & finding a song about the journey & then singing it to them that night. I keep trying to remember the actual song but it keeps segueing into Eric Bogle's "Katie & The Dream Time".

A different approach but if it works for you....
And I just wonder how many other songs died undiscovered with him.

Dave


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Subject: RE: Songwriter's Melodies
From: Bert
Date: 05 Nov 04 - 07:56 PM

I always start with the lyrics and the tune usually arrives along with the second or third line.

I almost always write my songs while I'm driving. I never write them down until after they are finished.

Sometimes I'll deliberately use an existing tune (Silicone Cindy for example) Sometimes I'll change the melody enough so that most people won't recognise the origin (Bathing Angel started out with the melody of The Eton Boat Song)

On one occasion a song would ONLY fit to the melody of a song that I had written earlier ("Grandmother's Song" and "Kiss for the Road") So I can't sing the two of them in the same session now.

Of course I'm not really good at melodies and sometimes strange things happen. "The Car Behind" just wouldn't work to the intuitive tune that came along with it. Eventually it clicked with the tune to "Seven Nights Drunk" but after singing it a few times it seems that it is sounding more and more like "Back to Donegal"

As Gargoyle says all is stolen. Everything must come from our individual musical heritage and songs don't get written in a vacuum (unless you count my head).


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Mudcat time: 13 August 8:24 AM EDT

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