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What do musicians look for? Advice from possible collaborators

#1 User is offline   Alistair S Icon

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Posted 23 October 2008 - 10:03 AM

Following on from this thread .. http://www.musesmuse...mp;#entry450019 ..

Many lyricists have trouble getting collaborations. Partially this may be due to the limited number of potential collaborators, but I think it may also be due to the need for lyrics to be written that lend themselves better to what musicians are looking for.

What do you look for in a lyric? (Anyone, but especially those who are happy to collaborate).

Lyricists, please don't chase anyone who answers :)
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Posted 23 October 2008 - 10:45 AM

Thanks for pulling this out Alistair, it is worthy of a topic on its own.

As I mentioned before I am primarily interested in titles. Typically when I scan the lyric board I read down the thread titles and I open the ones that catch my eye. It is amazing how many of them are not songlike, yet others just jump out at me with hit potential (or at least pique my interest)– and that is purely based on the title. If someone posts a thread called something like ‘no title’, ‘a rock song’ or ‘my latest lyric’ I probably won’t even open it.

As a little exercise just imagine you are a record company boss and you have 25 demos in front of you but you only have time to listen to 2, the rest go straight in the bin. All you have to go on is the song title so which 2 do you choose to play? Try this now by looking at the first page of the lyric board, which 2 would you pick? – No need to post your answers, it’s just something to try.

Of course having a good title is just the start but they don’t call it a hook for nothing! ;)

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Posted 23 October 2008 - 11:17 AM

I think I've thrown this question up before, but it got little response... maybe because it came from a 'Lyricist'. ;)

View PostAlistair S, on Oct 23 2008, 10:03 AM, said:

Lyricists, please don't chase anyone who answers :)


They don't have to answer for me to chase 'em down.... :lol: And over the years I have chased many-a-Muser down for collaboration... but I'm not just looking for the lyric to be put to music.... I try to find the musician that fits the glass slipper...
The proper genre, delivery, and overall feel the musician brings is very important to me.... and in the end is best for the 'song' (words & music)...

It will be interesting to hear the reponses from a musicians POV....


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Posted 23 October 2008 - 11:24 AM

This is a great topic. I've directed a few people over to the forums to look for collaborators (after they've buzzed my site and I've had to tell them I have too much on my own plate right now).

You have to be willing to try different working styles, this goes for both composers & lyricists. I work best doing "lyric first" but have been able to take someone's music and retrofit lyrics to them. That's harder for me, but I forced myself to do it -- developed my writing muscles and expanded who I could write with. Composers likewise need to be willing or able to take a lyric and develop a melody and rhythm for it -- many composers have the music and go looking for lyrics to "fit."

The "Collab Comps" were invaluable, as difficult as it was to run them. The first collaboration I got into was in a collab comp. I like it because you get *assigned* a partner and a deadline -- you have to find a working rhythm very quickly. I collabbed with Merlin and gpeddino on a song. But during the comp I really liked JamesJ's entry, and we got to talking and wrote together.

Sometimes you just have to ask. There was a young man named PianoMan here who had mad playing/singing skillz and loved Billy Joel and Elton John. I had written a lyric in a "Billy Joel" style, and I just asked him if he'd like to do it. He was hesitant at first, but went ahead, and told me later it was one of the best compositions he had done -- and I believe it was because he stretched himself to work differently.

It's also important to know that even if two people like each other, and respect each other's work, it might not work out. Some people just have too different expectations. And it takes a while to develop the ability to listen to criticism and to give it respecfully that comes with "sticking with it."

Ian Ferrin and I have written six songs. The first one we tried, he set a lyric of mine, I had some feedback, and we had some disagreements about it. We could have given up right there. But I offered to take some music of his and do a lyric and that turned into a great song. Later on, he took a different lyric of mine and set it beautifully.

You have to find people who you click with, and you have to invest the time and care with it, like any relationship. Unlike a marriage**, you can "see" other people, but each time you start with a new person you have to go through the same courtship rituals and couples' therapy.

(**Obviously, the polyamorous are excluded from that statement)
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Posted 23 October 2008 - 12:08 PM

Quote

What do you look for in a lyric?

It's easy for me. When I read a lyric, it either works or it doesn't.
By that I mean the music will reveal itself almost instantly because the meter,
rhyme scheme, form, all the essentials that make a singable lyric work are present.
Certain lyrics just seem to catch my eye.
On the other hand, sometimes lyrics that are obviously well crafted and clever just don't work for me musically.
I guess that's when you let your Muse make the call. ;)
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Posted 23 October 2008 - 12:43 PM

I had to answer that question on a British writers’ site I subscribe to. My disinterest in reviewing most of the lyrics I saw there prompted a discussion of what lyrics have to be like, or do, to get the attention of a composer. And this is what I told them, basically.

I am a composer of sorts, in that I do occasionally set other people's lyrics to music. It's one of the things I do to keep myself feeling creative when I don't have songs popping out like Oriental babies. Basically, if I hear music when I read the lyrics, I've got something (or you've got something), and I'm interested.

It will be country music of one sort oranother, because that's what I do. I may hear something different in my head, but when I try to play it on the guitar, it's going to come out some kind of country because I'm just not that good on the guitar. Might tend towards a blues, or folk-rock, or even jazz--but if you don't want country music, better say "no" when I ask.

What do I look for in a lyric? I think the same stuff I look for in my own lyrics: I want a complete thought, expressed in a reasonable amount of time (3-1/2 to 5 minutes); I want somebody to be able to say, at the end of the song, "Well, I guess that's about all one needs to say about *that*." I want either a new idea, or if it's an old idea, expressed in a different way. I want it to make people think (and yes, thinking about jumping into bed with the first warm body of the opposite sex is okay thinking).

Structurally is where I get really picky. In order to work well with music, it's got to be rhythmic. Think "oral tradition"--most of the old epic poetry, from Beowulf to the Aeneid, is easy to set to music because it's got a beat to it. It was intended to be performed, not read. It doesn't matter what kind of a beat, as long as it's consistent. Sometimes a particular word, or string of words, won't work because the emphasis is on the wrong syllables; it may read okay, but it won't *sing* right. Rhymes are *not* necessary (though people expect rhymes in country music); I use rhymes as mnemonic tricks, to signal the performer what's supposed to come next. But I have written songs without rhymes, or with rhymes in odd places. It's okay.

And it's gotta have a hook. It doesn't matter what it is, or where it is, but it has to be memorable--it's what is going to remind people of the song when they hear it or see it. It's like advertising (which I used to do for a living)--the hook is what people will remember the song by. It has to be attention-getting.

Purpose of the song? I don't think much about "commercial viability"; the music industry these days is a very tightly closed circle, and the people who are inside are just not lettin' anybody else in. Sorry. If you're looking for Somebody Big to record your song, it has to be way, way better than anything being done by the people inside the circle, and they're *still* going to do everything they can to keep you out, and that's just how the Biz is, these days. It's not bad to be motivated by those aspirations--it will make you a better writer. You'll have to be a *really* good one.

However, I do consider the intent of music is to be *performed*. The purpose of music is communication; if you're writing it just for yourself, and nobody's ever going to hear it, what have you communicated? And how do you know that you got across what you were trying to say? A lot of songwriters perform their own stuff; some perform other songwriters' stuff (a practice I encourage--it's like cloning yourself). Working bands are a good market, especially those that have to do a lot of covers--why shouldn't they include yours? Your stuff just has to be as good as the other stuff they play,

Therefore, one of my considerations as a composer is how something is going to come across when it's performed. How easy are the words to sing? What's the singer going to emphasize? What parts are going to be hard to remember when the singer's standing up in front of a hall full of people, and how can one make it easier? When is the poor soul going to breathe--without being obvious about it, of course?

I will inevitably end up tweaking the words at least a little bit, because (1) I am a compulsive editor (I used to do that for a living, too), and (2) I try to remain conscious of how the thing is going to have to be sung. And I'll always be paranoid about whether what I do there is okay, even if I'm certain what I've done is what I *had* to do.

I suppose I should harp a little on titles. A title has to attract my attention, or I’m simply not going to be enticed to read the lyrics. Something that says “Please read this,” or “Untitled,” or has some hackneyed title like “Love” or “Spring Breeze,” I’m going to ignore. Think of one of those old 1950s-style jukeboxes (there’s a chain of burger joints around here that has ‘em, as part of their kitsch). You’re going to drop a quarter (or whatever) on a song, but all you see is title and artist. If the artist is somebody like willie Nelson, no problem—yhou’re going to play that song “because it’s a Willie Nelson song.” But what if you’re a complete unknown—like me? The title is all you’ve got to get that quarter with. It better be attention-getting.

This help?

Joe

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Posted 23 October 2008 - 01:29 PM

re: Joe's reply...

Well.

I guess that all one needs to say about *THAT*
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Posted 23 October 2008 - 05:15 PM

" What do you look for in a lyric? "

I do often cruise by the lyric board, although I never do leave a crit or comment, and that's only because I don't feel I could offer much in the way of a critique outside of a pat on the back and "it has potential", which as I understand it, is not what most people are looking for in a critique. As such most often the lyrics are just words on a piece paper to me, much like notes on a staff line with no key or time signature, or bars.

Occasionally I do come across some lyrics that suggest good meter, the rhythm, syllable count (not that crucial, but important), the mood, the style of music, even the instrumentation of the music, male or female singing the song, in short the lyrics will suggest the over all music to accompany the lyrics, I'll have the song playing in my head. "it has potential"

An example of this process that I used was a collab with eddy and Alistair on the song The Blending, I had read the lyrics that eddy had written, and the music that I came up with, was what I heard in my head that eddy's lyrics suggested to me, and then I sent a vocal track to Alistair as to basically how the lyrics should fit to the music that I came up with, and let him run with it (I'm no singer :lol: )

"So it goes". One thing I might suggest to a lyricist, is if they could mention the type of music, the feel, the mood and genre etc. they see their lyrics being set to, that would help me and others, in determining whether their lyrics have potential or not, and what suggestions I could offer as a musician.
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#9 User is offline   Alistair S Icon

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Posted 24 October 2008 - 07:29 AM

There's some good and useful information here already. Thanks!

I should add something too, on reflection. I've collaborated twice as a lyricist, and I've used other people's lyrics a few times (though not all have seen the light of day).

My first collaboration as a lyricist was around a year ago in a collab competition run on this board. I was paired up with JamesJ and considered myself very fortunate. We were given a title to wite a song to (each "team" wrote a song with the title "Devil Sea") and I struggled to find anything that grabbed my imagination. I wrote a lyric very quickly (in desparation to get something out) and told JamesJ I'd try and get something better. I went for a wartime lyric as it was almost Remembrance Sunday here in the UK. JamesJ liked it, adjusted the bridge slightly and produced a great song from it. It was a hugely rewarding experience and I thoroughly recommend it. To here your own lyrics brought to life by someone else gives you fresh eyes on your own words and feels quite different from writing and performing your own music. The song can be heard here - Devil Sea - and I love it.

My second collaboration was with Neuroron. He took a lyric that I also wrote a tune to and this was different and fascinating. While JamesJ did the music on his own, Ron preferred to consult at each and every stage. He tried out various musical ideas and made suggestions for lyrical changes. The result was a very different version of both the lyric and the song - and the process was a great learning exercise and a great insight into how a musician works (I consider myself more of a musical hack). The two versions are here (Ron's) and here (mine). Again, it was a hugely rewarding experience. This collab took off because Ron offered me some positive feedback on the lyric and I asked him if he wanted to do it. Don't be afraid to do that if you see a musician sounding enthusiastic about a lyric of yours .. they may be hinting!!

I had one collaboration as neither musician or lyricist (this time just as a singer) with eddy and Bio. That was great fun!

The times I have offered to try my hand at other people's lyrics have been for similar reasons to the people above. In some way the lyric spoke to me and felt as if it was musical (the meter and structure worked for me). More than that, there was something in the lyric that matched my sensibility and there was at least one line that made me feel a direct emotion. The title also drew me in.

Another factor for me was that I knew the lyricist/musician. I had got to know the lyricist over a period of time, was familiar with their work and style (knew their likes and dislikes) and I felt I wanted to work with them - that they would collaborate nicely. This is important, I think. A collaboration is a relationship (as zmulls also says) and it is important to feel that you can work together. For the musician especially, there may be a lot of work to do in trying out different melodies and in recording/sequencing, mixing, etc.. (not always a simple matter at all). This takes time and we all have other priorities. I wouldn't want to work with someone who was too impatient and who wanted to treat me like a hired hand - or who wanted to make demands of me on the musical side beyond those I was willing to offer.

So...

So far, there are some nuggets in this thread that are worth highlighting I think..

* Getting the right collaborator is important

Mike likens this to finding the one who fits the glass slipper :) I like that. To do so, it's important to know who these people are. Look on the L&M board and become familiar with the style of music people do and discover who they are. Look at whether they do collabs (they will credit the lyricist in their post). There are many who do. Look at the lyrics they picked up. See what it was about the lyric they liked. Do they always pick similar stuff? Know your market!

* Be prepared to develop the relationship

Zmulls talked about the need for mutual respect and about the way it can take time to understand each other fully. This single song is not more important than the potential relationship. Bernie Taupin's first song with Elton John was never released. It can take time.

* Make your lyric stand out to a musician

Get a good title (and a memorable phrase so people can ask for the song)! Make sure your rhythm and meter is spot on. Shift the rhythm appropriately where you need to (chorus/bridge, for example) .. make it singable. Give detail on how you hear it (genre, mood, tempo, etc.). Maybe even sing it?

Quote

In order to work well with music, it's got to be rhythmic. Think "oral tradition"--most of the old epic poetry, from Beowulf to the Aeneid, is easy to set to music because it's got a beat to it. It was intended to be performed, not read. It doesn't matter what kind of a beat, as long as it's consistent. Sometimes a particular word, or string of words, won't work because the emphasis is on the wrong syllables; it may read okay, but it won't *sing* right. Rhymes are *not* necessary (though people expect rhymes in country music); I use rhymes as mnemonic tricks, to signal the performer what's supposed to come next. But I have written songs without rhymes, or with rhymes in odd places. It's okay.


* Remember it has to be performed

Quote

How easy are the words to sing? What's the singer going to emphasize? What parts are going to be hard to remember when the singer's standing up in front of a hall full of people, and how can one make it easier? When is the poor soul going to breathe--without being obvious about it, of course?


So far, I think this thread is useful to lyricists who aspire to collaborate. Let's see what else people have to say.
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Posted 24 October 2008 - 07:56 AM

Great question -

As someone who has done quite a few muses muse collabs (as musician), I look for some things-

(1) A short lyric - dont write a a lyric that takes more than 20 seconds or so to read -
If your lyric is too long (I would say more than two short verses and a bridge) the collaborating musician doesnt have much freedom to add musical sections and still keep the song reasonably short- the music never gets a chance to breathe

(2)Make a point - I am just as good as anyone at examining my own tortured artist soul - If I want to convey a rambling collage of thematically incoherent depressing images I can write my own lyrics- The easiest way of making a point is by starting with a hook and ruthlessly moulding the verses so they fit the hook - but there are plenty of other ways

(3)Use unusual rythms - If I am reading something which rhymes and follows an unusual rythm, it immediately leaps out at me as something that sparks a song - if the lyric is more predictable, it is harder to find musical inspiration



Thats it for now - the biggest mistake I see is (1), but if you can be successful in any two of these three points, you probably are good enough at writing lyrics for me!!
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Posted 24 October 2008 - 03:49 PM

Great thread.
I've gotten too used to being a solo guy, so I'd like to try some collaborations. I did two for the FAWM challenge in February, and both turned out all right. A friend and I keep talking about doing some writing together, but when we do get some time together (all too infrequently) we either play and sing songs we already know or just sit around and drink beer.
Here's what I'm looking for:
I'm working on my second CD of folk rock aimed at kids and families. I want my music to be accessible and appropriate for kids, but I'd also like for adults to dig it, too. Check out the links below to hear what I've done so far.
So, I'd like to collaborate with someone who is serious about getting music out to the public. Although I have a full-time job as a teacher, music is more than just a hobby to me. My wife is also a teacher, and we have a plan for using my music to teach writing and social skills. I perform interactive shows, with programs my wife helped develop, all around our area.
So, I would want a lyricist who can write fun, clever songs that teach lessons without talking down to kids. So far, I've written all my own lyrics, but it would be exciting to work with someone with a new, different approach.
For my kinds of songs, I think repetition is OK. Families listening to music together like something they can sing along with.
I'm also considering doing a project with songs that are meant for adults - songs about being a parent, and songs that reminisce about being a kid. Right now, I have two albums' worth of songs, but I'd replace some of those with good new songs.
If anyone is interested, I could provide backing tracks for you to write to. If you want to give me lyrics to try to put music to, I would appreciate it if you let me know what kind of song you imagine your words going with. I'm acoustic based, but I add keyboards and percussion to my songs, and I touch on different genres (blues, country, straight-up rock, folk, jangly jam-band, even funk).
And Mystery Mike, if you're out there - you mentioned a possible collab on another thread. Send a message - let me know what ideas you have.

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Posted 24 October 2008 - 03:50 PM

Quote

I try to find the musician that fits the glass slipper...
The proper genre, delivery, and overall feel the musician brings is very important to me.... and in the end is best for the 'song' (words & music)...


I really get the glass slipper thing. For me, as a musician, I look for a lyric that fits. Most of my collabs on muse have been writing to existing lyrics. So it has to be a lyric that moves me in some way, it has to "feel" right to me.

Quote

It's easy for me. When I read a lyric, it either works or it doesn't.
By that I mean the music will reveal itself almost instantly because the meter,
rhyme scheme, form, all the essentials that make a singable lyric work are present.
Certain lyrics just seem to catch my eye.
On the other hand, sometimes lyrics that are obviously well crafted and clever just don't work for me musically.
I guess that's when you let your Muse make the call.


That's a great description, "meter, rhyme scheme, form". Many lyrics I read on the lyric-only board don't seem to grasp the necessity of these essential items. I really enjoy working with Len because, for me, his lyrics incorporate all the essentials that a good lyric should have. For me, that includes the technical things, form, meter, rhyme, etc. But just as importantly, it includes intangibles such as a strong emotional hook, an interesting or unusual POV, or a strong story. I usually am more attracted to a lyric that is positive, although an interesting point of view can override that. A good lyric will contain some tension or some problem to be resolved. A good lyric will describe things in honest but unique ways.
The best lyric will sing right off the page. By that, I mean the technical aspects will be so perfect and the language and structure will be so perfect that I can hear the musical style, structure, and sometimes even the melody as I read the lyric.

Quote

Make a point - I am just as good as anyone at examining my own tortured artist soul - If I want to convey a rambling collage of thematically incoherent depressing images I can write my own lyrics- The easiest way of making a point is by starting with a hook and ruthlessly moulding the verses so they fit the hook - but there are plenty of other ways


A good lyric is pretty clearly understood. If I can't figure out what it means, I probably won't be interested. A good lyric is written tightly around the hook. By the same token, the hook has to be something real and interesting. Some lyrics are torturously twisted to support a hook that doesn't really make sense.
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Posted 24 October 2008 - 11:09 PM

This is a very interesting and valuable discussion topic. To all you musicians, is it easier to put a melody to a lyric or vice versa? Can you cite examples of metering that just stands out?

#14 User is offline   Bruce N Icon

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Posted 25 October 2008 - 01:47 AM

View Postbernabby, on Oct 24 2008, 11:09 PM, said:

This is a very interesting and valuable discussion topic. To all you musicians, is it easier to put a melody to a lyric or vice versa? Can you cite examples of metering that just stands out?


To me which one is easier is like the question, What came first, the chicken or the egg? My preference from a musicians point of view, would be to come up with a melody first, and then come up with words that fit the beat/meter, rhythm of that melody. But as I've said above in this thread, sometimes I'll read some lyrics and for some reason they stand out, maybe the words lend themselves to a nice flow, like a two or three syllable word where the first syllable can be held for a 1/4 note count and the 2nd or 3rd syllable held for a full count and vary the emphasis on those syllables, and the word is still very understandable. Much like a guitar player would work out the lead guitar solo in a song.

As for examples of metering, on the two links below, the first song is The Animals 'House Of The rising Sun', a song I think most everyone should be familiar with, both the music and words have good metering, just listen closely to the beat and the emphasis on the syllables of the words
The second song is a version of 'Amazing Grace' preformed by The Blind Boys Of Alabama. Amazing how it all works out. ;)

House Of The Rising Sun. http://www.youtube.c...h?v=pRV9QCXLtHQ

Amazing Grace. http://www.youtube.c...feature=related
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Posted 25 October 2008 - 02:38 AM

View PostBio Sample, on Oct 25 2008, 02:47 AM, said:

View Postbernabby, on Oct 24 2008, 11:09 PM, said:

This is a very interesting and valuable discussion topic. To all you musicians, is it easier to put a melody to a lyric or vice versa? Can you cite examples of metering that just stands out?


To me which one is easier is like the question, What came first, the chicken or the egg? My preference from a musicians point of view, would be to come up with a melody first, and then come up with words that fit the beat/meter, rhythm of that melody. But as I've said above in this thread, sometimes I'll read some lyrics and for some reason they stand out, maybe the words lend themselves to a nice flow, like a two or three syllable word where the first syllable can be held for a 1/4 note count and the 2nd or 3rd syllable held for a full count and vary the emphasis on those syllables, and the word is still very understandable. Much like a guitar player would work out the lead guitar solo in a song.

As for examples of metering, on the two links below, the first song is The Animals 'House Of The rising Sun', a song I think most everyone should be familiar with, both the music and words have good metering, just listen closely to the beat and the emphasis on the syllables of the words
The second song is a version of 'Amazing Grace' preformed by The Blind Boys Of Alabama. Amazing how it all works out. ;)

House Of The Rising Sun. http://www.youtube.c...h?v=pRV9QCXLtHQ

Amazing Grace. http://www.youtube.c...feature=related

Yes, thanks nice examples to get a feel of how the words fit so well with the melody. I never really noticed before but House is all v's. Is it my ears or is the Blind Boys rendition of Amazing Grace similar to House. Listening and writing down the lyrics helped me get a better feel of metering, thanks.

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Posted 25 October 2008 - 04:12 AM

Yes they are both the same melody, just a slower tempo played on Amazing Grace. The more traditional version of Amazing grace is this link.
http://www.youtube.c...feature=related

I had just wanted to show if you're writing lyrics, you should try and have some type of melody in mind, in regards to tempo, and how the syllables fallow each other, and the over all rhythm of the words

For example take a 4/4 time signature

1 and 2 and 3 and 4 and
ta......da......ta......da......
Ba.....be......ba.....beeeee

1 and 2 and 3 and 4 and
don't get hooked on me

Anyways that's more or less how I look at it, I'm sure others have their way looking at it also.
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#17 User is offline   daddio Icon

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Posted 25 October 2008 - 05:56 AM

Biosample wrote

Quote

I had just wanted to show if you're writing lyrics, you should try and have some type of melody in mind, in regards to tempo, and how the syllables fallow each other, and the over all rhythm of the words


I agree and that's why I think it's a great exercise for lyricists to write words to an existing melody. That's a great way to get a feel for meter and rhythm.

I have written both ways, melody first and lyric first. It's easier, for me, to write a melody for an existing lyric than it is to write a lyric for an existing melody. But then, the music is always easier for me than the lyric anyway. But when I'm looking for a lyric, I'm much more attracted to a lyric that is musical than to a lyric that is poetic.

After reading all the posts here, there is one other thing I have to say. I've passed over many lyrics that were later done very nicely by other musicians. Once the technical aspects are in place; i.e. structure, meter, rhyme, etc, everything else is subjective to a certain degree.
Lately I'm feeling my inner dog.

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Posted 25 October 2008 - 10:18 AM

View Postdaddio, on Oct 25 2008, 05:56 AM, said:

After reading all the posts here, there is one other thing I have to say. I've passed over many lyrics that were later done very nicely by other musicians. Once the technical aspects are in place; i.e. structure, meter, rhyme, etc, everything else is subjective to a certain degree.


It is fun looking back at the comments I received on a lyric, and then comparing it to the one's I received on the collborated song.... many of the lyrical nits disappear.... If I had to give one suggestion to a new lyricist, it would be to study phonetics, either do some online research, or just listen to how words blend together when heard... in the end the "ear of the listener" is the most important instrument of any song...

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Posted 25 October 2008 - 01:15 PM

I haven't done much collaboration, but of the few that I have done I've been disappointed with the results. Perhaps that's why I'm rarely asked to collaborate. The fault wasn't in the lyrics, it was in my attempt to set them to music and perform the song in a professional manner.

A few years ago Mike wrote an awesome lyric called, "Tears," and I just couldn't get it right. Most of the fault, I think, was in the production, but a good chunk of it was the melody. I tried to do a minor/major thing, with the verse in the minor and the chorus in the major. I felt the verses worked, but the chorus just didn't sound right... it was too sing-songy for the topic.

There seems to be an assumption in this topic that the "musicians" on this board are being bombarded with requests to collaborate. I don't think that's the case. I think the lyricists, too, are looking for a musician who can do justice to their words.

There are some great lyric writers on this board. Mike, I already mentioned, is one. Len, z mulls, and others (don’t feel slighted if I left you out). But I don’t think I could take a lyric by these guys and do it right. One of the reasons is because I tend to write music and lyrics at the same time, but another reason is the style in which they write which doesn’t match my own. In any case, none of these guys (or anyone else for that mater) is beating down my door to collaborate.

Anyway, I tend to agree with Andrew. I like short lyrics that make a point, that jump right off the page in terms of rhythm and rhyme. Simple lyrics that suit my simple style.

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Posted 25 October 2008 - 01:24 PM

Neal wrote

Quote

One of the reasons is because I tend to write music and lyrics at the same time, but another reason is the style in which they write which doesn’t match my own.


I think it goes back to the glass slipper thing. It has to fit the style of music I'm inclined to do anyway or I'm not interested.

Nobody's beating down my door either and it's just as well. I barely have time to do what I do. :)
Lately I'm feeling my inner dog.

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Posted 25 October 2008 - 03:08 PM

I find writing lyrics a bit sad. It's only half a song, like dancing without a partner.

But it sounds like everyone is sitting on the benches waiting to be asked for a dance. Maybe we need a Musesmuse "swingers" party?

Sw fla chip, check out The Animal's Fashion Parade on my lyrics website - it might be what you are after. RLD, check out Riot (or I'll PM you another if you're keen). Daddio, as my prince charming (though I'm not sure where this glass slipper analogy leaves me), you have first choice on any :)

And if anyone wants lyrics written to a existing song, let me know and I'll have a go (though I have a backlog and need to get those done first).

Final thought for any lyricist - get a website up, somewhere that prospective collaborators can go to and check out your lyrics. Not easy for everyone to do of course but a lyrics website can be a very simple thing. Just one long page with all the lyrics on it is a start. The collabs with Daddio and Neuroron wouldn't have happened without my website.
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Posted 26 October 2008 - 06:57 AM

I just flipped through the responses, we all have different opinions, here is mine(and as you all know I'm a collab junkie)
in all my collabs I think I've contacted one musician and asked if he'd do the song, the rest all happened by simply posting a lyric on the muse,and a musician contacting me saying he hears a song in my lyric,

SONG

Is the most important mind sync when writing a lyric,not poetry,
the best songs are man/ woman relations good or bad,
They have a chorus with good hook/title that lends itself to being repeated
The hook/title is most times positioned at the end of the chorus,(it's amazing how many muse writers dont do this)

If more writers followed these basic principles and kept thier lyrics short and to the point I'm sure muscians would be asking can I do the SONG,
good luck,john

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Posted 26 October 2008 - 07:19 AM

View PostJohn Paragreen, on Oct 26 2008, 01:57 PM, said:

I just flipped through the responses, we all have different opinions, here is mine(and as you all know I'm a collab junkie)
in all my collabs I think I've contacted one musician and asked if he'd do the song, the rest all happened by simply posting a lyric on the muse,and a musician contacting me saying he hears a song in my lyric,

SONG

Is the most important mind sync when writing a lyric,not poetry,
the best songs are man/ woman relations good or bad,
They have a chorus with good hook/title that lends itself to being repeated
The hook/title is most times positioned at the end of the chorus,(it's amazing how many muse writers dont do this)

If more writers followed these basic principles and kept thier lyrics short and to the point I'm sure muscians would be asking can I do the SONG,
good luck,john

True.

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Posted 26 October 2008 - 11:11 PM

This is wonderful and helpful information to me and others with lyrics that we are trying to make them the best they can be. kimberlyinnc
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Posted 26 October 2008 - 11:59 PM

View PostRLD, on Oct 24 2008, 06:08 AM, said:

.
Certain lyrics just seem to catch my eye.

I haven't done a lot of collabs (heck, I haven't even played much music lately, but that's another story) but this comment of Rod's about catching the eye, well, caught my eye. I think I know what he means. There is something quite visual about a strong lyric, from a musical perspective. When I see words on a page, I tend to get a feel for their innate rhythm if there is one. There is often a certain visual symmetry to patterns of words that make good songs. There's a conciseness, a shape, a structure that just sticks out somehow. I wish I could describe or explain it better.

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Posted 27 October 2008 - 08:50 AM

Many, many thanks to the contributors to this thread! :)

I started it in the hope that it might provide some guidance to lyricists (especially those who have not had much luck so far) who would like to get their lyrics made into songs - some tips that might help them to create lyrics that are more "song-ready".

I wasn't sure how many musicians would contribute, and I am delighted with the number who have. It's also nice to hear from lyricists who have successfully collaborated to get their tips.

I hope it will be a help to some people. Thank you all.

I'm wondering whether to make it "sticky", changing the title to something more descriptive.
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Posted 27 October 2008 - 08:55 AM

View PostAlistair S, on Oct 27 2008, 01:50 PM, said:

I'm wondering whether to make it "sticky", changing the title to something more descriptive.
Yes, do it :D

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Post icon  Posted 29 October 2008 - 07:40 PM

[quote name='Alistair S' date='Oct 27 2008, 08:50 AM' post='450499']
Many, many thanks to the contributors to this thread! :)

I started it in the hope that it might provide some guidance to lyricists (especially those who have not had much luck so far) who would like to get their lyrics made into songs - some tips that might help them to create lyrics that are more "song-ready".

I wasn't sure how many musicians would contribute, and I am delighted with the number who have. It's also nice to hear from lyricists who have successfully collaborated to get their tips.

I hope it will be a help to some people. Thank you all.

I'm wondering whether to make it "sticky", changing the title to something more descriptive.
[/quote
Yes, this topic has been very helpful. There are a number of lyrics to select from but none that I can find of musicians offering melodies for critique. Is there such a site? If not, can one get started. I found the match the melody contest to be very enjoyable and challenging. Musicians can pick and choose from the board of lyrics if they're not writing their own. I'm wondering if musicians just use the direct approach if they see a lyric they like or are subtle hints made if they choose to review a lyric. From the other perspective, is it too arrogant for lyricists to solicit melody writers when posting? I know we all think our lyrics are just waiting to be gobbled up by every musician out there. Are there subtle ways for lyricists to advertise for music collaboators? What are the rules and the protocol for hooking up?

#29 User is offline   Neal K Icon

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Posted 29 October 2008 - 08:32 PM

View Postbernabby, on Oct 29 2008, 05:40 PM, said:

Are there subtle ways for lyricists to advertise for music collaboators? What are the rules and the protocol for hooking up?


Why be subtle? Listen to the songs in lyrics and music section, and if you hear something you like, contact the musician about a possible collaboration. The worst thing they can say is "no," and that could be for a number of reasons: they're too busy, they don't write music in your style, etc.

Generally, though, I'd say if a writer is posting great lyrics on the lyric critique board, then he or she will likely be contacted by a musician. If no one has expressed any interest in collaborating with a lyric writer, that might mean the lyric writer has to do a little more work to get their lyrics up to snuff.

I listened to a few of your songs on Garage Band, and if that's you singing and playing I'm not sure what the problem is. The sound is quite good.

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Posted 29 October 2008 - 11:35 PM

View PostNeal K, on Oct 29 2008, 09:32 PM, said:

View Postbernabby, on Oct 29 2008, 05:40 PM, said:

Are there subtle ways for lyricists to advertise for music collaboators? What are the rules and the protocol for hooking up?


Why be subtle? Listen to the songs in lyrics and music section, and if you hear something you like, contact the musician about a possible collaboration. The worst thing they can say is "no," and that could be for a number of reasons: they're too busy, they don't write music in your style, etc.

Generally, though, I'd say if a writer is posting great lyrics on the lyric critique board, then he or she will likely be contacted by a musician. If no one has expressed any interest in collaborating with a lyric writer, that might mean the lyric writer has to do a little more work to get their lyrics up to snuff.

I listened to a few of your songs on Garage Band, and if that's you singing and playing I'm not sure what the problem is. The sound is quite good.

Neal

Ok, then it's the direct route. Haven't got any calls yet so I better get to work. Anybody interested? Thanks for visiting my garageband site. I would love to say that it was me singing and playing. For purposes of ego building can we agree that this is what I would sound like if I ever became a performer? For those of you who may be interested, please visit me at garageband.com and type in bernabby in the band search box. I have a sonic site but I don't know how to move my songs there. I'm still a novice with these computer contraptions. In fact, I just learned how to send smiley's with my comments. Thanks, Len.

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Posted 18 November 2008 - 02:17 AM

A thought that comes to mind about all this is that when I read lyrics, I often wish I could hear them spoken with the phrasing the writer has in mind. I mean, all too often I find myself reading words on a screen that I find difficult to imagine scanning rhythmically in a musical context. I find myself wondering how the writer "hears" them in the sense of rhythm... phrasing... articulation.... tempo...... prosody... to a regular beat.

Has anyone on the lyrics side ever tried this around here? Recording themselves speaking their lyrics while keeping the beat with clicked fingers or clapped hands and recording it? From a musician's perspective I feel that this could be a huge help and take an awful lot of the guesswork out of trying to interpret the feel a lyricist has in mind.

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Posted 18 November 2008 - 09:32 AM

Simon,

Yes, I've provided acapello versions in the past, just to give an idea of melodic delivery.... but I think that approach can be a double-edged sword at times... you may get what 'you' envisioned, but it may take away the opportunity for a greater synergy between collaborators... It also takes away some of the fun of bantering back and forth over changes.... ;)

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Posted 18 November 2008 - 11:15 AM

Quote

you may get what 'you' envisioned, but it may take away the opportunity for a greater synergy between collaborators


great point. that synergy is what makes collaboration fun.
Lately I'm feeling my inner dog.

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Posted 18 November 2008 - 11:42 AM

FWIW, I (almost) always have a strong rhythm in mind when I write a lyric. But I (almost) never speak it to a collaborator over the internet. I have found that a good musician can find a way to do it even better than I could have imagined. Sometimes it's best to see what comes back.

W.S. Gilbert wrote the same rhythms over and over again, but Arthur Sullivan found many new ways of musicalizing the same beats. In one case, though, Sullivan was baffled by something Gilbert wrote, and Gilbert had to go over and speak it to him. This was not only pre-Internet, but pre-telephone.

I am always ready to "speak the meter" if a collaborator gets stuck ("what the heck did you mean here?"). I'm ready to hack syllables out or add syllables or add/delete/change lines when the melody moves in an interesting way but doesn't exactly fit the original words.

There will be execeptions. Every so often I have such a strong sense of the rhythm that I'll want to use that as a starting point.

I've been doing more work "live" -- in the same room with collaborators -- and there's more back and forth. And in that case I'll be more likely to say "I was sort of hearing THIS -- da da DAHHHHH da daHHHH" and see what my collab comes up with.

It's all about your feelings, your collaborator's feelings and the sort of relationship and understandings you have -- or are developing. You might work one way with musician A and totally differently with musician B. No rules -- only what eventually works for that particular partnership.
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Posted 18 November 2008 - 01:17 PM

View Postzmulls, on Nov 18 2008, 11:42 AM, said:

I have found that a good musician can find a way to do it even better than I could have imagined. Sometimes it's best to see what comes back.


It's also a thrill when it comes back fairly close to your original intent, without saying a word....


Quote

There will be execeptions. Every so often I have such a strong sense of the rhythm that I'll want to use that as a starting point.


Yes, some are near and dear to the heart.... and there is only one way 'you' will be satisfied...

Good discussions... I already got one collab out of it.... :P

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Posted 18 November 2008 - 02:26 PM

View PostAlistair S, on Oct 23 2008, 09:03 AM, said:

Following on from this thread .. http://www.musesmuse...mp;#entry450019 ..

Many lyricists have trouble getting collaborations. Partially this may be due to the limited number of potential collaborators, but I think it may also be due to the need for lyrics to be written that lend themselves better to what musicians are looking for.

What do you look for in a lyric? (Anyone, but especially those who are happy to collaborate).

Lyricists, please don't chase anyone who answers :)


I've collaborated with many lyricists here - and in addition write my own lyrics.

I do go through the lyric critique forum (and believe strongly it should continue) and do make comments at times. This has led to several of my collabs. What I look for in a lyric to set to music is something UNIQUE and interesting - it might be the topic, or the language or the POV. I actually prefer not to have any idea what the musical intent of the lyricist was. I also (perhaps blasphemously in this context) consider the written lyric a starting point and feel free to make wholesale changes - although as Alstair mentioned above, I'm pretty good about bouncing those changes off the lyricist quickly and often. That said, there are some lyrics that have barely changed. I'm also looking for a collaborator that's got a free spirit of experimentation, even if we do several versions of the song, so be it. I remember going through 40 drafts of a lyric with Patticake - the ediscussion and "arguing" was invaluable and we ended up generating two more songs. I also, not that infrequently will take a song that I have "incomplete lyrics" (most often just a chorus) or "complete lyrics" that I'm not that happy with to get additional input/stimulus. Also my feeling is that (almost without exception) the credit is "words and music" by all contributors, and equally split (as far a $ and credit) - I think the W&M interact in the course of the production so they are not independent - in addition, sometimes one person's idea may not be used, but it will be the catalyst that makes the whole thing unfold. I've had a couple of collabs that haven't worked out in the sense of that song coming to a happy fruition, but I don't regret the process and I don't think there were any hard feelings.

I think it's highly unlikely this is going to be a money-making endeavor, so everything (to me anyway) is in the satisfaction of the journey - Ron

NB: After looking through the thread again, let me reinforce the fact that SHORT (read: concise), INTERESTING TITLE, and irresistible CHORUS (without a lot of words) are all very attractive qualities to me also.
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#37 User is offline   Simple Simon Icon

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Posted 18 November 2008 - 03:50 PM

View PostMysteryMike, on Nov 19 2008, 03:32 AM, said:

Simon,

Yes, I've provided acapello versions in the past, just to give an idea of melodic delivery.... but I think that approach can be a double-edged sword at times... you may get what 'you' envisioned, but it may take away the opportunity for a greater synergy between collaborators... It also takes away some of the fun of bantering back and forth over changes.... ;)

Mike


Well, Mike, I think you're looking at it more from the perspective of a collaboration that is already underway here. I was looking at it from the perspective of a musician who occasionally wanders through the lyrics section to see what's going on there. What I'm getting at is those lyrics (and there are many of them) that just don't seem to scan properly when I read them and I can't seem to find a way to make them scan. I'm sure the writer, in most cases at least, must have an idea of how they would phrase them in a musical context, so maybe it would be helpful for a musician to be able to hear that phrasing in the way the writer envisaged it.

This thread is, after all, asking what musicians look for. While I don't pretend to speak on behalf of all (or even most) musicians, this is certainly something that I would like to see (or hear). Apart from anything else, I sometimes get the distinct impression that some writers haven't actually given a great deal of thought to the phrasing, rhythm or prosody of their lyrics and this kind of approach might have the additional benefit of helping to develop such awareness.

Cheers

Simon

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Posted 18 November 2008 - 04:31 PM

Simon,

Quote

I sometimes get the distinct impression that some writers haven't actually given a great deal of thought to the phrasing, rhythm or prosody of their lyrics and this kind of approach might have the additional benefit of helping to develop such awareness.


LOL... I can't argue with that.... for the same reason, I have a hard time critiquing some of the lyrics submitted....

Quote

I was looking at it from the perspective of a musician who occasionally wanders through the lyrics section to see what's going on there.


Actually I often wondered how many times this happens on this site... I've seen musicians pick up lyrics much more on other sites (granted they are "collaboration" sites)... but few on this site that I know of.... would this make you (or any musician) more likely to pick up a song for collab? Or is this more to say, "what the hell were they smokin'"?

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#39 User is offline   Doctor Wu Icon

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Posted 05 December 2008 - 11:33 PM

Most of the time (and I stress "most"), you've got amateur lyricists collaborating with amateur composers and what you get is an amateur result. Hopefully somebody learns from the experience which makes it worthwhile for all concerned. Every once in a while it works, but no one should ever look it at as anything more than a 'classroom' experience. Do it because it's fun and take what you can from it to improve your skills.
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Posted 06 December 2008 - 10:36 AM

View PostDoctor Wu, on Dec 6 2008, 12:33 AM, said:

Most of the time (and I stress "most"), you've got amateur lyricists collaborating with amateur composers and what you get is an amateur result. Hopefully somebody learns from the experience which makes it worthwhile for all concerned. Every once in a while it works, but no one should ever look it at as anything more than a 'classroom' experience. Do it because it's fun and take what you can from it to improve your skills.


That's a good point - I consider myself (whether it's actually true or not is debatable) well beyond the amateur composer point. Not only that, almost all of my songs are written on an acoustic guitar, so they almost all have some folk element to them.
When I read a lyric from a potential collaborator, I have to be able to hear almost right away how it would sound as an acoustic folk song. One person I collaborated with sent me an a capella version of her song, and I could hear it was bluesy and she sang it in the key of E (I don't think she knew what key it was in, but she sang it beautifully). Another sent me lyrics only, but I could almost immediately hear a Neil Young-ish melody and chord progression that fit it.
That's why it was a pleasure to take Mystery Mike's "Rain Forever" and put it to music. I could hear it two ways - one as a jangly folk-rock/jam band thing, and another as almost straight folk. And because he is experienced, Mike knows that sometimes fewer words work a lot better and repetition can be good.
I have worked with amateur and first-time lyricists, but it involves a lot of re-writing and so they have to have a pretty thick skin. I'm not saying I am a great songwriter (although my wife and our 6-year-old daughter think I'm the best), but I know what I like and I can bang out a song pretty fast.
I enjoy collaborating and hope to do more, but when it comes right down to it, I like writing my own lyrics best.

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Posted 07 December 2008 - 12:39 AM

View Postsw fla chip, on Dec 6 2008, 10:36 AM, said:

That's why it was a pleasure to take Mystery Mike's "Rain Forever" and put it to music. I could hear it two ways - one as a jangly folk-rock/jam band thing, and another as almost straight folk. And because he is experienced, Mike knows that sometimes fewer words work a lot better and repetition can be good.
I have worked with amateur and first-time lyricists, but it involves a lot of re-writing and so they have to have a pretty thick skin. I'm not saying I am a great songwriter (although my wife and our 6-year-old daughter think I'm the best), but I know what I like and I can bang out a song pretty fast.
I enjoy collaborating and hope to do more, but when it comes right down to it, I like writing my own lyrics best.


Hey Chip... it was a pleasure working with you as well, and I hope the opportunity arises again... And I think both versions of the song are great, the second more to the my original intentions... but as I told you, the first one definately works depending on the setting and audience... As for being experienced, I guess through years of writing I've gotten better and know how to leave 'space'... but I really think it comes to finding a good match between the lyricist and musician... Hard to believe, but there are some regulars on the site I haven't tried to collaborate with, because I just don't have anything currently written or probably that I would ever write that would 'fit the slipper".... There are a few times that I tried to make the slipper fit, and all I ended up with is squished feet... In the end, I don't just want music to my lyrics, I want the output to be a 'song'...

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Posted 12 December 2008 - 12:40 PM

First I look for a concept that grabs me...you know, the usual...I just want to like it.

But once it comes down to composing for it, I look for a feel for natural rhythm in the structure. Too many lyrics have great words, great concept, but uncomfortable phrasings. I don't mind a few tonguetwisters, but I do mind a lack of "weight" in the right places of the lines. In other words, if line 1 of verse 1 gives an obvious "weight" to, say, the third word...then line 1 of verse 2 chooses "and" or "but" or "with" for that third word, it's gonna sound clumsy.

I sometimes crave shorter lines. When I craft a lyric to a written melody, I often find each line may have only six syllables or so...but that probably seems extremely sparse to many lyricists.

Got a good reason
For taking the easy way out
Got a good reason
For taking the easy way out
She was a day tripper
One way ticket yeah
It took me so long to find out
And I found out...


I didn't write that.

As far as actually deciding to collaborate, I also want to trust the other person, so I'm likely to sit back and watch their posts for several weeks...you kind of want to know their personality before you suggest getting into a business partnership with others.

I don't know why, but when someone contacts me and says "Would you like to write music to this one?" there seems to be about a 1/1000 chance. Something needs to jump out at me, rather than me finding something in any given lyric. That has to do with randomness, I guess.

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Posted 12 December 2008 - 01:07 PM

View PostMark Kaufman, on Dec 12 2008, 01:40 PM, said:

I sometimes crave shorter lines. When I craft a lyric to a written melody, I often find each line may have only six syllables or so...but that probably seems extremely sparse to many lyricists.

Got a good reason
For taking the easy way out
Got a good reason
For taking the easy way out
She was a day tripper
One way ticket yeah
It took me so long to find out
And I found out...


I didn't write that.


I love shorter lines, and that's a great example. Because it's so simple, the cool "day tripper" phrase stands out. And, of course, set to music it's one of the Beatles' most hard-driving rockers.
One of my favorite songwriters, Bruce Springsteen, simplified his lyrics over the years. Not only shorter, sparser lines, but lots of repetition to build drama and intensity. I was just listening to The Rising - lots of repeated lines. And he nails the words in his vocal delivery.
In fact, writing a song with a good deal of repetition might be a good lyric exercise, especially for a lyricist who is also a vocalist and/or looking to develop his/her musical ear. Experimenting with different ways the repetitive lines can be sung could be beneficial in a number of ways.

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Posted 12 December 2008 - 07:16 PM

View Postsw fla chip, on Dec 12 2008, 12:07 PM, said:

View PostMark Kaufman, on Dec 12 2008, 01:40 PM, said:

I sometimes crave shorter lines. When I craft a lyric to a written melody, I often find each line may have only six syllables or so...but that probably seems extremely sparse to many lyricists.

Got a good reason
For taking the easy way out
Got a good reason
For taking the easy way out
She was a day tripper
One way ticket yeah
It took me so long to find out
And I found out...


I didn't write that.


I love shorter lines, and that's a great example. Because it's so simple, the cool "day tripper" phrase stands out. And, of course, set to music it's one of the Beatles' most hard-driving rockers.
One of my favorite songwriters, Bruce Springsteen, simplified his lyrics over the years. Not only shorter, sparser lines, but lots of repetition to build drama and intensity. I was just listening to The Rising - lots of repeated lines. And he nails the words in his vocal delivery.
In fact, writing a song with a good deal of repetition might be a good lyric exercise, especially for a lyricist who is also a vocalist and/or looking to develop his/her musical ear. Experimenting with different ways the repetitive lines can be sung could be beneficial in a number of ways.



Chip and Mark, you are sooooooooooo on the mark (no pun intended) - Ron
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Posted 08 January 2009 - 11:05 AM

When the music comes first I think most composers either consciously or unconsciously want the lyricist to interpret what the melody is saying. Is the melody pensive, gay, lilting, whistful, happy, sad. Music is a language and a lyricist must be able to interpret the language of the composer. If not then there is no communication between the two and therefore the collaboration suffers.

When the lyric comes first I think it is the responsiblity of the lyricist to stucture a hook, form and scansion that the composer can breath life into. Imagine if you will a painter who is given an assortment of brushes. The lyrcist chooses the brushes/lyric but the composer does the painting/composing. Get it? If your lyric contains great metaphors, creative rhyme schemes, strong lyrical rhythm or scansion then the composer can create a seamless composition where the listener would be hard pressed to tell what came first.

I also believe that a lyricist must understand what it is that a composer does. In a measure of music a composer must decide the notes (eigth, sixteenth, quarter, whole, half) chords, pauses, holds, bends, slurs, repetition, tessitura etc. A lyricist must think like a composer. Fascinating topic. See you at the Grammys.................................peace!
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Posted 08 January 2009 - 12:41 PM

I speak for myself, so . . .

I don't really care so much about what's typed on a screen. It's a certain persona that I'm looking for: open, understanding, adaptive, hard working, and strong faith in themselves. These things sometimes jump out of the monitor when written by a really good lyricist regardless of the content or schemes.

There are few other things: catalog (multiple samples), style, genre, some type knowledge about structure and basic songwriting stuff, but also the ability to let go. All these things pretty well discussed previously.
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Posted 10 January 2009 - 03:30 PM

A few things have to come together.


It has to be a topic I’ll sing about. You either feel it or it’s not for you. This will change from artist to artist. In my case I want to be comfortable with singing or performing the song live later. I did a song once where the original lyric was, “Is it when puberty begins”, I changed that to “Is it when the discovery begins.”

I have to come up with a melody almost instantly. It’s got to sing right away. At least some of it. I have plenty of lyrics to work with of my own. I ain’t going to waste time working on somebody else’s if it doesn’t come just like that. On my soundclick page you’ll find, ‘Definitely Different’ and ’Fading’ Lyrics by John Paragreen. ‘The One That Got Away”, lyrics by Silky Tofu, and ’The Cost”, lyrics by Fabkebab. Those four collabs with other musers were lyrics I saw and came up with the melody and chords in anywhere from 10 to 40 minutes. It’s like it’s got to sing write off the screeen and it’s simply me putting the chords underneath that compliment it. That’s how I work.

I also can’t work with a lyricist who won’t allow minor changes to their precious words. If I’d had to have 38 messages and and two conferences with fabkebab about changing puberty to discovery I’d likely have left it dead in the street. Of course fab’s a pro though, top notch to work with.

A topic I want, something that sings right away, and a flexible lyricist who can keep up and cope with the changes.

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Posted 10 January 2009 - 07:37 PM

View PostJaymz, on Jan 10 2009, 03:30 PM, said:

A topic I want, something that sings right away, and a flexible lyricist who can keep up and cope with the changes.



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Posted 11 March 2009 - 02:52 PM

As a lyricist myself, I believe this issue is an absolute craft fundamental. The absence of real musical sensibilities or concept of structure is a common frustration amongst composers dealing with putative lyricists. And these are talented people who would all genuinely love to have their music become songs and feed them some money. But they need and deserve the same stuff as RLD and Daddio:

View PostRLD, on Oct 23 2008, 10:08 AM, said:

the music will reveal itself almost instantly because the meter, rhyme scheme, form, all the essentials that make a singable lyric work are present.

View Postdaddio, on Oct 24 2008, 01:50 PM, said:

The best lyric will sing right off the page. By that, I mean the technical aspects will be so perfect and the language and structure will be so perfect that I can hear the musical style, structure, and sometimes even the melody as I read the lyric.
The big obstacle to reaching that happy point, as I see it, comes from wannabe writers getting jammed up within an overly narrow genre focus. Let me put it this way: I don’t know of any painters or sculptors who are ignorant about the history of their chosen medium, I know no writers who are ignorant of literature, and I know no actors who are oblivious to accumulated legacies of film and theatre. They have all studied their craft assiduously and with great love. But in the contemporary world of popular music there still seems to be an obstinate pride in staying ignorant of craft tradition while claiming spurious status as ‘new’, ‘experimental’, ‘progressive’…. and how many times have we heard someone asked what they know of theory and harmony reply “not enough to hurt my playing” ?

The only real solution, from my perspective, as in every other area of human endeavour, is to accept our status as pygmies climbing on to the shoulders of giants and to study and learn from the huge history and tradition of songwriting and great songwriters. I truly enjoy learning about everybody's concepts and processes from Abba to Zappa but, generally-speaking, I have found a more practical and productive kick from Hoagie Carmichael or Oscar Hammerstein or Johnny Mercer or Fran Landesman or Dave Frishberg, for example. (Plus, in special response to sw fla chip’s projects, I’d also add Joe Roposo.) More than merely a matter of taste, I tend to feel that a focus on seminal monsters outside of the narrow confines of contemporary chart fodder can simply be more..... er - fruitful. Their juice is simply much more potent.

I also heartily endorse Daddio’s suggestion of writing lyrics to extant music. It’s a terrific way to discover the importance of rhyming in terms of melodic motive and rhythm, and great for learning about structure. Purely personally, I have also benefitted enormously from putting time in to write 'vocalese' - the learning and internalising of jazz solos which 'spoke' to me, the sweat of transcribing the notes, the building of words to express their most appropriate sounds, the pleasure of singing them out. And learning as much as we can about theory and harmony serves us well. Guaranteed. In spite of any lack of real instrumental facility, the ability to analyse others' work is undeniably useful. But sadly, I find most people just don’t want to bother with all that nonsense – they believe that anyone can write song lyrics and can even offer their favourite listening as incontravertible proof.

My point is just that it is possible to educate and develop an aspiring lyricist’s sense of musicality.
It’s huge fun, very worthwhile, and saves a lot of wasted time, too.

View PostBio Sample, on Oct 23 2008, 03:15 PM, said:

One thing I might suggest to a lyricist, is if they could mention the type of music, the feel, the mood and genre etc. they see their lyrics being set to, that would help me and others, in determining whether their lyrics have potential or not, and what suggestions I could offer as a musician.
This is something I never do.

First, when delivering song-ready lyrics my aim is for a transparency of musical intent that meets RLD’s and Daddio’s expectations – otherwise I am simply not doing my job.
Second, it’s definitely not my job to predetermine, prejudice, or otherwise restrict the creative responses of my collaborative partners.

View PostJaymz, on Jan 10 2009, 01:30 PM, said:

I also can’t work with a lyricist who won’t allow minor changes to their precious words.
That sounds very heartfelt.

Luckily, I have never come across this characteristic in a fellow lyricist – ‘though I have encountered it with composers. And why not ? I actually respect the position. For me as a writer of words, it is the music which has primacy. It has its own life, has to make its own sense, and possesses its own emotional logic. My job is to serve the song, not dictate a direction. And I will always make changes to achieve that end. I have even completely re-written a new song in its entirety because the character of the composer’s first 4-bars demanded something more profound than where we started.

These personal attributes are also crucial:

View Postvenusdelite, on Jan 8 2009, 10:41 AM, said:

It's a certain persona that I'm looking for: open, understanding, adaptive, hard working, and strong faith in themselves.

View PostJaymz, on Jan 10 2009, 01:30 PM, said:

a flexible lyricist who can keep up and cope with the changes.
Flexibility and application - enough said.
Professionalism also demands an ability to communicate with musicians.
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and the second best to sing them"

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The relation and balance of the two arts is a problem that has to be resolved anew in every song that is composed.”

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#50 User is offline   FunkDaddy Icon

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Posted 14 March 2009 - 04:58 AM

Personally, I look for a lyric that DOESN'T suit my style. I can write lyrics for the styles I'm comfortable with, if I'm collaborating I might as well be deferring the other responsiblities (whatever they may be) to somebody who can do it better than me. I mainly look for country lyrics for collaboration for this reason, I love country music but it's not a style of lyric that comes easy to me.

As far as what draws me to a lyric initially, quite frankly, the shape a lyric makes on the page can tell you a lot about how easy it will be to sing (assuming the writer has followed the regular routine of ending each line with the rhyming word). Obviously this isn't always the case but I've found quite a lot of the time that the more uniform and "neat" the lyric looks before I even read it, the easier it will be to imagine it being sung.

Proper spelling, grammar and even punctuation when needed also tells a lot about the writer. Is it all THAT important to the lyric? No. But it is important to know what level of intelligence you'll be dealing with.

And like RLD said, it just has to "fit". If I can read the lyric with a consistent melody and flow all the live long day then I'll probably enquire about a collaboration.
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