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Arrangement and Completing Songs

Arrangement, instrumentation, lyric writing, music theory, inspiration… it’s all here.

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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