Creative Songwriting (Part 2)

by Will Landrum
www.guitarconsultant.com

In part one of this article, I described various ways that I
get inspired for writing a new tune. Here in part two, I
want to take some specific examples of what I do to put a
song together.

As I said earlier, you can get inspired by several methods
such as:

1. A chord progression
2. A cool riff
3. A lead melody

One of the things that you need to do is create a part that
compliments your initial idea such as adding a melody to
a chord progression or adding a chord progression to a
melody.

Let's say you have a chord progression you really like.

What else can you do with it?

Plenty.

To create your musical painting, you must know theoretically
what key you're in. Now, if you're weak on modal theory, but
know a scale or neck pattern that sounds good against your
chord progression, use what you know to create a melody over
it.

The easiest way to do this is to get a multitrack recorder and
record your chord progression on one track. Play it over and
over a bunch of times.

When you play it back, work out your melody on another track.
As you're working on a melody line, try to listen for cool
harmony between your melody and chord progression. If only
one particular note sounds totally great against one of the
chords, go with it and start building around that great
relationship.

Now, if you're notes are all correct but you can't seem to
come up with something you like, it may be time to inject a
new technique to spice things up a bit.

Let's say you know the chords and you know the notes. Try
looking at the notes in a whole new way such as:

1. Arpeggios. (The notes of the chords)

2. Skipping strings for wider note intervals.

3. Right hand tapping.

4. Whammy bar effects.

5. Pinching harmonics...

One of MY biggest problems was not being able to decide for
myself if something was good or not. I always wondered "This
sounds ok but can I do better?". If you have this trouble
too, get someone else's opinion. Preferably someone who can
offer helpful insight.

If you can't find someone to critique your tune, you MUST
decide for yourself and move on...otherwise you'll never get
your tune finished.

Another aspect to writing your song is called the
arrangement. Once you have the parts of your song in mind,
you will need to put them in a pleasing sequential order that,
as a whole, is your song.

Think about this.

If you have 3 parts for a song, and each part is twenty to
thirty seconds in length, You have plenty of material for a
four minute song! It's all in the arrangement.

I look at my music from a basic viewpoint. I "label" the
different parts of my song as either:

1. An introduction part. (intro)
2. A verse part.
3. A chorus part.
4. A bridge part.
5. A solo part.

Your tune can have all or just some of these parts. If you
make a song with just one part, chances are that it will
get boring after about ninety seconds or less. If you use
four different parts in your tune, you also need to be
careful not to make your song too long.

Your main concern is to keep your audience interested.

Here are some arrangements from my debut CD "Will Landrum"
(http://www.guitarconsultant.com/cd-will.html ) that worked
really well for me.

- verse1, chorus1, verse2, chorus2, solo1, verse3, chorus3,
fade out...

- verse1, bridge1, chorus1, verse2, bridge2, chorus2, solo1,
verse3, bridge3, chorus3, fade out...

- verse1, bridge1, chorus1, verse2, bridge2, chorus2, solo1,
chorus3, fade out...

- intro1, verse1, chorus1, verse2, chorus2, solo1, intro2, verse3,
chorus3, fade out...

Remember in part one I told you about the hook? Your hook
will usually be considered the chorus...the main theme of
your tune.

Also, your guitar solo part may be played over the chorus's
chord progression or an entirely new part just for soloing.

Your intro may be a cool riff that is also the rhythm
section of your chorus like I did in "Hour Champion".
- http://www.guitarconsultant.com/hourchampion.mp3

It's totally up to you and your self expression.

Arranging is an art unto itself. The bottom line is that
after you have your parts established, arrange them in a
way that keeps you and your audience interested.

Try some of these arrangements and if they don't seem to
fit your tune, don't be afraid to experiment.

For those of you who have my CD, listen to my tunes from an
"arrangement" point of view. I'm sure it will give you some
more ideas. Also listen to how I make similar parts sound
different throughout a tune.

For those of you who DON'T have my CD, Man!...You're missing
out on some good stuff! :-)

I hope this gives you something to work toward with your
songwriting.

I can't tell how great it feels to write and record your
own music. When I recorded my first song and listened back
when it was all finished, it was a truly moving experience!

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thank you, this has been very helpful!

i know exactly what your'e talking about with the deciding thing...

i sometimes spend hours messing with fx for a guitar part, and constantly switching back and forth between effects cuz i can't decide.

aside from wasting time this also really puts my creative side asleep and i lose my "muse"...

from now on i'm just going to have to get a second opinion on stuff that i can't decide - never thought of that before!

thanks for the posting. find it incredibly useful, since i'm a start-up guitar-user :) can't even call myself by now a guitarist :wink:

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