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Arrangement and Completing Songs

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Arrangement and Completing Songs

Postby ProducerEnix » Mon Aug 29, 2016 12:11 am

Hey guys, I'm a newbie here but wanted to reach out and talk about something that plagues me and I know a lot of you too. Song Arrangement and Completing Songs.

Background: Played Guitar for 7 years, Working with DAWs on and off for 6 years. Took Music Technology and Music Theory in High School (Forgotten most of it).

The biggest issues I've come across through the years for me has been completion of songs and arranging them. I've recently decided to take on music production more seriously because creating songs/melodies/beats and putting them all together makes me happy. However I feel like I make more Motifs than songs. I get inspired make a cool Motif and find myself no-where to go. I want to get better at writing out full songs. But I'm not really sure where to start or what materials to look at. So I'd like to hear from you guys what helps you get better at arrangement and get over the "Unfinished Track Blues".

TL;DR: How to finish tracks and better your songwriting? Advice for a Forum Newb.
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Re: Arrangement and Completing Songs

Postby blinddrew » Fri Sep 02, 2016 11:48 pm

Welcome to the forum! I was certain there was a thread on here that talked about this but I can't seem to find it - I did find this which may have some useful stuff though: ... ock#p53670
I guess it will depend on what style of music you're writing but in most cases, in some way, you're telling a story. So work out what your story is.
To paraphrase Tom McRae (something of a hero of mine), songs are about tension and release, throughout the song it's about building that tension and relaxing it. So again, look at what you have so far and what you need to do next.
Put yourself in the right space to work. Whatever that space is (it will vary according to person and the type of music), give yourself the right environment to work in. Then give yourself the permission to focus on something until it's done.
Does that help as a starter for 10?
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Re: Arrangement and Completing Songs

Postby Guest271017 » Sat Sep 03, 2016 1:13 am

How's this for arrangement? Or any of my other tunes for that matter? ... D=12857048
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Re: Arrangement and Completing Songs

Postby alexis » Sat Sep 03, 2016 2:47 am

blinddrew wrote:... in most cases, in some way, you're telling a story. So work out what your story is.


What makes you happy about writing your songs? In the answer to that question lies the way to motivate you to finish.

Is there one part that you can't just get past in each of your unfinished songs? The vocals? The guitar? The ability to mix well? Maybe identifying something explicitly will help.

Just my two cents, but good luck!
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Re: Arrangement and Completing Songs

Postby Exalted Wombat » Sun Sep 04, 2016 1:28 pm

I will give you £100 if you deliver 10 completed songs this week. They don't have to be perfect. There can be scope for improvement. But they must be COMPLETED. And no fade-outs :-)

Ok, I'm lying about the £100. But act as if I wasn't.
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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: Arrangement and Completing Songs

Postby ProducerEnix » Wed Sep 07, 2016 4:59 am

Wow thank you guys. All the resources and advice really my eyes to some more perspective. Haha I do like the idea of finishing 10 songs in a week as a challenge, seems like a fun.
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Re: Arrangement and Completing Songs

Postby MOF » Tue Sep 10, 2019 2:46 am

I do like the idea of finishing 10 songs in a week as a challenge, seems like a fun.

Don’t do that, that’s what I do, cycle round ten songs and none of them get finished.
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Re: Arrangement and Completing Songs

Postby CS70 » Tue Sep 10, 2019 4:27 pm

ProducerEnix wrote:TL;DR: How to finish tracks and better your songwriting? Advice for a Forum Newb.

From a creative perspective, the jump from a riff or a motif to a complete song is simply not trivial. Learning certain rules of composition can help here - but only if you are already comfortable with music theory beforehand.

However, I find that a gigantic source on "how to do it", is to study and learn hundreds of the fantastic (complete) songs that have been made in the last seven or eight decades. You get no end of tricks, and when you're working with mr. McCartney or mr. Simon or mr. Cohen or ms. Swift and so on and so on, you're working with some of the most creative minds that have ever been in pop music. It rubs off. :)

Once you have a complete piece (lyrics, verses, chorsus, bridge, coda, the works), transforming it in a finished product is both a mindset and a skill.

The mindset is to simply want it. Hard. That means that you decide to dedicate time to finishing a song instead of noodling some more :) It's gotta be important to you. And decide to stop - not tinker forever. A firm deadline ("I must be done by ...:") helps here.

The skill can be learnt and is both about knowing what's the next steps (arrangement, instrumentation, recording sessions, the sound you want, mixing sessions, etc) and of course the skill to perform each of them (or outsource them if you can't).

Decide the vision and reason for the piece, and work you way to it, one step at a the time. It's that simple, really :)
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Re: Arrangement and Completing Songs

Postby GilesAnt » Tue Sep 10, 2019 6:33 pm

Just adding a bit to the above, I think it is easy to assume people understand form and structure in music. But whilst not often discussed, a good sense of form can guide you towards completing a song.

Terms like verse, bridge, coda may not be fully understood. But having a structure in place does give you something on which to hang your ideas, riffs and motifs.

Take the classic Tin Pan Alley song, typically following an AABA structure. That is, 8 (4-beat) bars of 'A', which are then repeated, followed by 8 bars of 'B' (preferably something contrasting or complementary that satisfies the tension/release mentioned earlier in this thread). Finally 'A' is repeated to give a sense of coming home.

This may have an Intro and a Coda too, and the whole AABA is often repeated in entirety.

Modernising this somewhat you will find a classic like McCartney's Let It Be follows a modified form of this structure - Intro, A, A, B (4 bars), A (4 bars) Bridge section, etc, etc. Listen to other music, as suggested, and try to sketch out the structure along these lines.

Of course a structure should not be a straight-jacket, but it might help you get things started.

Apologies if this is all grandmother and eggs.
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