Songwriting on guitar - Tips and advice

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Moonstone
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Songwriting on guitar - Tips and advice

Post by Moonstone » Fri Jul 24, 2015 11:12 am

Hi all,
next week I'm going to write something with my band. We have different styles but we all like classic rock. I've never wrote songs, sometimes I came out with some riffs but nothing special. So my question is, have you some tips or advice? I mean advice in the whole process and the music theory that can help us as guitarist.

For example, I know where notes are on the freatboard, I know most common chords/power chords, triads, pentatonic scale, a bit of intervals, blues scale...

But for me it's a problem find out a cool riff, I can choose a key, and then I don't know what chord put in, so I choose by ear the one that sounds good.
Sometimers I don't have inspiration, other times what I write is so similar to other existing songs...

So, what are your tipical process? What theory do you use? How do you find the inspiration to write new things?

Thanks to all guys.
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OU818
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Re: Songwriting on guitar - Tips and advice

Post by OU818 » Fri Jul 24, 2015 11:52 am

I keep trying until I hate my guitar so much that I want to throw it away and never touch it again.

Then I pick a fight with it.

Wham. New song.
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ironlung40
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Re: Songwriting on guitar - Tips and advice

Post by ironlung40 » Fri Jul 24, 2015 2:09 pm

I don't write much, but I find that inspiration comes easiest after indulging in my favorite music for awhile...I think of it as getting educated while listening to my favorite bands....for instance with the new Sabbath 13 came out, I listened to that..I mean really listened to it...not background music, but focused on paying attention to every detail of that record...after many listens of this I found it easier to write a heavier Sabbath style riff on my own.....it's not about ripping off a band, its about getting inspiration...and listening to your favorite bands always helps do that for me...and while you are at it you should notice the patterns they used for their writing
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Borderline Productions
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Re: Songwriting on guitar - Tips and advice

Post by Borderline Productions » Fri Jul 24, 2015 2:12 pm

One approach is to start with a riff or an interesting chord progression and flesh out what vocals and bass part will go with it.

The other approach is to have the vocal first and figure out what will back them up.

Another is to jam on an idea and see if anything good comes out.

For the record two chord songs without a bridge drive me crazy (and not in a good way), so remember to break things up with different ideas.
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Les Paul Lover
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Re: Songwriting on guitar - Tips and advice

Post by Les Paul Lover » Fri Jul 24, 2015 9:39 pm

Borderline Productions wrote:One approach is to start with a riff or an interesting chord progression and flesh out what vocals and bass part will go with it.

The other approach is to have the vocal first and figure out what will back them up.

Another is to jam on an idea and see if anything good comes out.

For the record two chord songs without a bridge drive me crazy (and not in a good way), so remember to break things up with different ideas.

Close call here.... We have done a 12 chords progression song that (we think!) works very well. The same pattern is repeated 6 times in a row.... ;) Got to admit it's a slow progression, with variations within the progression that makes it sound like it includes it's own bridge.
Last edited by Les Paul Lover on Fri Jul 24, 2015 10:11 pm, edited 1 time in total.
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Les Paul Lover
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Re: Songwriting on guitar - Tips and advice

Post by Les Paul Lover » Fri Jul 24, 2015 9:47 pm

There are lots of approaches. As said, you can work from the lyrics, or from a riff or melody.

A couple of things that really annoyed me is this need to conform.... ie: a song must not last more than 3 or 4 minutes, or it has to have verse/bridge/chorus.

Just do what a) sounds good, b) fits the song.
If you don't like the way a piece of music is going, try not to say it's pile of poop straight away. Try to be constructive as bandmates' egos can be hurt pretty easy. Even if you think it's really pile of poop, sleep on it. If you're still convinced it's pile of poop the following day, then say it. But try to think of ways to improve it 1st... One can only have so many vetoes.
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Wendigo
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Re: Songwriting on guitar - Tips and advice

Post by Wendigo » Sun Jul 26, 2015 7:23 pm

I always just go for a good chord progression first. I try to include just one or at the most two chords that sound a little "out there", to an otherwise normal, solid progression. Then I look at the chords and start just literally adding notes to them, hit or miss, seeing if I can create some kind of logic between chords that way, like common tones amongst adjacent chords for example. Then I try to pare the chords down into one or two notes, like just single notes or two string (sometimes three) chords. I guess I then just look at the chords that are before and after the one I'm working on and try to bind them together logically on the fretboard, maybe in other octaves, other higher or lower frets, part of one chord on guitar one, and part on guitar two if there are 2 guitars. This gives you a fairly solid sound, and I think you'll find that by the time you've taken some of these steps, you'll already have your riff before you get through all of them. The essence of it is that the raw building blocks (chords) sound good, so it will likely get better by being "treated" to a disassembly process. Don't think about theory, just use your ears.

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Re: Songwriting on guitar - Tips and advice

Post by Invin » Sat Aug 01, 2015 3:50 am

Some things that usually help me are:

- Just start playing without thinking, right when you turn on your amp. Sometimes a great riff will just happen if you don't overthink it!

- Use a looper pedal. Sometimes a riff will sound boring until you add a little lead, and a looper is fantastic for trying things and listening back.

- Learn the modes! Once you know what they sound like and where they are, the fretboard isn't such a mystery when it comes to finding the sound you want in key. If you don't know them, Scalerator.com can map them out for you so it's easy to visualize! It's helped me immensely.
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Songwriting on guitar - Tips and advice

Post by DiabloS » Sat Aug 01, 2015 4:02 pm

I write riff-based rock most of the time so I don't actually spend much time thinking about chord progressions even though it's an important part. I mostly just use my ears or experiment with trial and error until I find something that sounds good.

I often play to a drum beat too, just a simple 4/4 loop playing to start things off... vary the tempo until something clicks with a riff that has a good groove, then I build around that.

As for inspiration, when I pick up a guitar I usually know within the first 5 minutes or so if the magic is there... if it isn't, I don't force it and practice other stuff instead. Taking a break from trying to write all the time can help to come back with fresh ideas too. But when you do feel inspired, take advantage of it and write/record as much as you can. The arranging part can always be done later once you have the initial ideas down.
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