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Tips to Develop Songs from Ideas

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Re: Tips to Develop Songs from Ideas

Postby blinddrew » Sat Aug 10, 2019 9:59 am

Probably! :D

I think I was quite a frustrating pupil because I would really struggle with reading the music, particularly understanding the timing of a piece. But if she slipped up and made the mistake of playing it to me first, that was enough for me to be able to play it largely by ear and I would stop taking anything other than the basic note information from the music.
My pitch and fingering was generally ok though.
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Re: Tips to Develop Songs from Ideas

Postby blinddrew » Sat Aug 10, 2019 10:02 am

GilesAnt wrote:
blinddrew wrote:I guess I would say that i have a 'practical' knowledge that allows me to know that if x is following y then there's a good chance that z will also work, but I couldn't tell you why.

We probably all start out like that, and many would argue that you don't even need to know why things work.

Understanding the theory of why x, y, and z work together is satisfying in itself of course, but more importantly can open up new avenues that you might not have stumbled upon otherwise. Also the theory can help you shortcut the thinking process so you don't have to reinvent the wheel each time.
Yep, the thing i'm trying to work myself out of is stumbling down the same patterns again. I generally get there eventually but it takes a while.
Or I just decide that a short song is good and cut it all back so that what i have is enough. :D
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Re: Tips to Develop Songs from Ideas

Postby Sam Spoons » Sat Aug 10, 2019 10:28 am

MOF wrote:I think chords on keyboards are very logical but think they are impossible (short of memorising them all) on guitar.

I agree that chords on keys are easy to visualise but they are on guitar too, the problem is that most guitar players don't know the names of all notes on a guitar (most know the notes on the A and E strings, many don't know them above Vth fret on the other strings fluently).

Guitar chords are shape based too though and are as intuitive* to guitar players as keyboard chords are to pianists. Understanding them is easier on keys but once you have it......

* adding extensions etc. is just the same process as on keys, the difference is the distribution of the notes, a D9, for example could be D F# C E (R 3 b7 9) maybe with an E/5th on top. You can have either R 3 7 or R 5 7 in the first octave but not (usually) R 3 5 7 (C#7 using the open B would work).
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Re: Tips to Develop Songs from Ideas

Postby GilesAnt » Sat Aug 10, 2019 8:39 pm

Perhaps guitarists have to work a little harder to find different ways to voice chords - learners tend to think there is only one way to play each chord as learned from chord charts.

On the keyboard it is probably a bit easier to visualise things, with the repeated patterns of 2 and 3 black notes as MOFS points out. Yes, I do see there are chord shapes on the guitar that you can use up and down the fretboard but there are fewer navigational aids, and the irregular tuning of the strings makes it harder too. If I close my eyes and play a keyboard I can orientate myself fairly quickly because of the arrangement of the black notes.

Specifically on topic then, I sometimes force myself to noodle in strange keys where I have to think a little harder. And for guitarists, maybe seek out new voicings further up the fretboard to add a little extra interest and maybe just find that next new idea.
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Re: Tips to Develop Songs from Ideas

Postby Duncanjp » Wed Aug 14, 2019 2:16 am

roalin wrote:Here are 6 ideas to help you develop a piece from an idea:

+ Create 2 ideas instead of one
+ Separate creative mind from structure mind
+ Expand first, details last
+ Build from busy to simple
+ Easier if elements function musically by themselves.
+ Better done than perfect.

I would put the last one, "Better done than perfect," at the top of the list, not the bottom. Completing songs takes practice. Twenty years ago, my then-girlfriend quipped to somebody at a party, "Yeah, he can play a hundred songs but never finishes any of them." That stung. But point taken. I started finishing everything, whether it was an original or learning a cover. Too many of my musical friends, including some in my own band, have a catalogue of unfinished originals which are no use to anybody. Still perfecting that one song they started writing in 1986. Please. Just finish it. Knock it out. Ignore perfection — because (1) it will never be perfect and (2) it's just an excuse to hedge against the critics. Damn the critics. Let your next song be the one that's perfect. Finishing your songs leads to finishing songs with ease — and building a catalogue of finished songs.
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Re: Tips to Develop Songs from Ideas

Postby blinddrew » Wed Aug 14, 2019 8:43 pm

:clap: :clap: :clap:
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Re: Tips to Develop Songs from Ideas

Postby GilesAnt » Tue Aug 20, 2019 6:24 pm

Regarding completion, you could either take the Brahms approach (21 years for 1st symphony) or that of Vivaldi who completed endless pieces....

….or as Igor Stravinsky said "Vivaldi did not write 400 concertos, he wrote the same one 400 times".
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Re: Tips to Develop Songs from Ideas

Postby blinddrew » Tue Aug 20, 2019 10:08 pm

Harsh! :D
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Re: Tips to Develop Songs from Ideas

Postby ManFromGlass » Tue Aug 20, 2019 10:50 pm

I bought Scalar. It and this video -

https://m.youtube.com/watch?v=JYiHQrrLHuQ

are really opening my mind and hands. I’m from the same music school as Drew.

I watch this vid a bit at a time. Heck I’m watching EDM composers using Scalar to create club tracks. If they can do it to create tracks then I sure can. And it’s kinda sneaky too because as I create progressions I’m learning a bit, but not so it gets in the way of creating the music. Sorry to sound like an ad but I’ve finally found someone who can explain what I thought was really complicated stuff in a very simple way.
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Re: Tips to Develop Songs from Ideas

Postby blinddrew » Tue Aug 20, 2019 11:03 pm

ManFromGlass wrote: I’m from the same music school as Drew.
But did you graduate? ;)
I'll give that video a proper watch some point soon, thank you. :thumbup:
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Re: Tips to Develop Songs from Ideas

Postby GilesAnt » Thu Aug 22, 2019 11:52 am

Interesting video. He is trying to cram a lot in, but to be honest I'm not sure he really is simplifying theory or just showing off a product that allows you to play chords more easily if you don't actually play an instrument. It seems to restate some of what has already been said in this thread - try inversions, try adding notes to chords, try different chords.

Maybe it helps if you are trying to develop an idea that is harmonic in origin, but for me it would be rather constraining - I wonder where he gets the idea that only I, IV, V, and vi are important.

Which makes me wonder what really constitutes an 'idea' in music. For some it might be a nagging melody in their heads, or perhaps a distinctive rhythm. Or an idea might be more abstract - for example a poem or painting that inspires. Maybe you start with an idea that is structural in some way, a series of sections with alternating dynamics, rhythms or whatever.

What is the starting point, for most people I wonder?
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Re: Tips to Develop Songs from Ideas

Postby blinddrew » Thu Aug 22, 2019 1:28 pm

Hmmm, starting points. Sometimes it's a melody, sometimes it's more of a sound or a bit of a sound-design-scape (if that makes sense), sometimes it's a lyric, sometimes it's a concept.
The ones that tend to stick with me are generally those that start with a founding concept of some kind, where I can quickly build a theme around a few strong lyrical lines, and hopefully quickly get my hands on an instrument to pull things together.
I did write a complete set of lyrics on my motorbike coming home from work one day but wouldn't recommend it as a reliable, or safe, technique. :)
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Re: Tips to Develop Songs from Ideas

Postby John Egan » Thu Aug 22, 2019 8:08 pm

[quote="GilesAnt"
What is the starting point, for most people I wonder?[/quote]

It can be a number of things for me. Often it's a phrase which strikes me ("thin ice" was a case in point). Sometimes it's a subject which interests me. It can be a riff or a song from the past which captured me (although it's more likely to be the lyrics or the style) but in this case I try like fury to stay well clear of the tune. It might be a style based on someone who influenced me a lot.
However, the starting point is the most difficult and frustrating point to reach.
Regards, John
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Re: Tips to Develop Songs from Ideas

Postby GilesAnt » Fri Aug 23, 2019 6:38 pm

blinddrew wrote:However, the starting point is the most difficult and frustrating point to reach.

Getting a good idea in the first place is challenging for me too, but maybe we aim too high sometimes. Think of Beethoven's 5th - ta-ta-ta-daaaaaa. Not all that impressive as an idea on its own, but it's what he does with it afterwards that counts.

So having some tricks up your sleeve for developing an idea, whether melodic, harmonic, rhythmic, or just stylistic can always help. Maybe the original idea isn't that important, but you might be able to transform it into something special if you apply some musical craft work.

My main difficulty is to stay out of my comfort zone as a keyboard player - simple ballad-like triadic chords pumping away 4 to the bar in the right hand, and slow moving octaves in the left. Loads of great music does follow that pattern of course, but I feel I at least ought to try and do something a bit different.
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Re: Tips to Develop Songs from Ideas

Postby blinddrew » Fri Aug 23, 2019 7:25 pm

That was actually John not me, but he's not wrong! :)
I completely agree with you about pushing out of the comfort zone. It's so easy to be lazy though, simple 4/5 chorders and predictable melodies; feels like you're being productive without really taxing either yourself or your listener...
But so quickly forgotten...
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