Sunday, April 05, 2009

Songwriting - You've got the song, now what?

Stopped by and saw a friend that I had talked with a few weeks ago. At that time he was struggling with lyrics. Today he played two newly completed songs. Pretty impressive and what was even more impressive is that they are both good musically and lyrically. It's amazing what happens when you get the internal critical out of the way and just write.

Now that the songs were done, I gave him a few suggestions on what to do next. My first suggestion was to make a recording and ask these questions?
  • How long is the song? My general rule is shoot for around three minutes. Over 4 minutes look for a place to cut.
  • How does it flow? Think about a journey, where do you build, where do you get quiet?
  • Do you play you're favorite riff too often? Where would it have the most effect?
  • How often do you play the chorus, can you get to it quicker? Lately I've become a big fan of concentrating effort on the chorus, giving people a place to sing along. I try use a chorus three times.
My final piece of advice was to not consider the song finished, instead think of it as evolving. The last few months, I've been going back and reworking some of my older song and actually applying some of the comments above. It's much easier to give advice that to do it yourself.

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At 9:29 AM, Anonymous prufock said...

I agree with most of these points except the length. I think limiting yourself to 4 minutes and under is too strict. When I think of great songs, many of them are over 5 minutes. I do agree that they shouldn't be UNNECESSARILY long, and trimming them down by applying your other tips is a good idea.

In fact, one of my band's songs recently clocked 9 minutes, but we've used tips similar to yours to cut it down - playing a particular riff half as many times, shortening the solo, getting to the final chorus faster, even cutting out a whole verse.


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