Apr 10, 2010 How to write songs
Posted by Steve
So you’ve started a band and you want to know how to write original songs. My band writes songs in a few different ways and we find that this gives us a good bit of variation in the music we produce.
I’ll go over the first today. It is probably the most obvious – writing songs through jamming. Often things sound great during a jam that you would never consider using if you were writing by yourself. The first thing to take into account when using this process is that each individual in the band will have a lot less control over the direction a song takes. Sometimes this can be a good thing, at other times it can be limiting. An important thing to remember is not to step on the toes of the others during a jam. Don’t be afraid to sit out on a jam for a minute and listen for opportunities. Once you’ve jammed on a song and you all decide “that was the most awesome jam and solo in the history of new age alt punk pop-rock!” you need to turn it into a song.
Most people would suggest recording your jams and that is a good idea but you can’t just record them and be done with it. If you can’t or don’t record your jams you’ll need to write down and if necessary, tab out your parts as soon as you finish the jam. The next step is the homework.
If you’re satisfied with the number of parts and the way they work together all you have to do is arrange them into a song structure. Once you’ve done that, print out the structure for each band member for your next practice. If you have a whiteboard available at your rehearsal space, use this instead of printouts. You will be able to change the song around a lot easier than if everyone needs to keep track of changes individually.
The vocalist of the band needs to write lyrics and come up with a solid melody for the song as soon as possible. For this reason, it is important that the vocalist is able to play the song or have a recording of it so that he/she can do their homework. Anyone who hasn’t written their parts for the song will need to do the same so an early recording (even if it’s only guitar and drum machine) can’t hurt and can cut down the time you waste during practice (which will help keep everyone more enthusiastic).
Once all of this has been worked out, it’s time to practice the song. Make sure you keep track of any song structure changes and don’t be afraid to make changes to the song as you go on (as long as it isn’t too close to a gig).
There you have it: your own song. I’ll be going over individually writing songs in my next post. Stay tuned.