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Songwriting – Where Do You Start?

This week we’re looking at songwriting & the different methods we all use to get the ball rolling!  

For many of us songwriting is a strange and ethereal process. Inspiration can strike at any time & place and we all have different ways of translating this into our new musical masterpiece. When I’m writing, I need a chordal hook or sequence to get the creative juices flowing, after that the melody and lyrics write themselves. But I have many friends who work closely with their ‘ideas book’, ready to record new thoughts, feelings and lyrics the moment they occur. This week, we’d really love to hear your approach.

So the question is: When writing a new song, where do you start?

Share your views on FaceBook and our Forum!

Great Comments from last week:

Last week Craig asked: As more advanced technology becomes available to the general public, many are opting for ‘home studio’ setups. In your opinion, can this ever really replace the polish of the professional studio?

Russell Hoke commented…

Only if you have a $10,000.00 microphone and all of the studio fx and sound proofing and backups and… Basically, if you are making it at home as an amateur it will almost always sound as such”.

Tony Carpenter wrote…

Recording is about listening/knowledge and input..(good playing/singing) Gear is just the icing. A minimum gear level is naturally higher these days anyway”.

Bob Wyper responded…

It’s already replacing the Pro studios.. not because they have achieved any quality themselves at home, but because the standards of what is acceptable have fallen to an all-time low… it’s like driving a VW Beetle at Le Mans.. you can believe you are racing but you’re really not, are you”?

Great response this week guys! Looking forward to reading your responses to this weeks post.

All the best, C x

  • Poppa Madison

    We have been driven to DAWing everything and quite frankly I don’t care for it that much. There is so much conflicting info out there as to what to do to get decent sounding recordings. Analogue live is hard to beat. Personally, I am striving to get live musos to collaborate to share possible income as far as recording goes per se.

    This leaves everyone free to pursue their own live performing activities away from the recording studio.

    Apart from the BIG NAME performers I’d love to hear from those who are making decent money from uploaded purely DAW creations.

    © ♯♪♫ ♂PM


    Follow Poppa on
    Twitter: @Poppa_Madison

  • Diane

    Most of my inspiration for songwriting comes from that ONE cool line you think of in the middle of the day for no reason at all – or a cool line someone says in a movie or TV show that I can twist and delve into. I have an idea book I write them down in. My husband is the music guy, so sometimes he’ll come up with something that works perfectly with an idea I already have, sometimes something he plays strikes a chord (pun intended) and I write off the emotion of the musical piece, what it “says” to me.

  • Diane

    We use DAW all the time to great success.
    Sometimes we single track, sometimes we live record using the DAW. The difference in “home studio sound” vs. “Pro sound” isn’t necessarily the equipment, it’s the layered effects, plug ins and actual mastering of the track. You could get ti to sound GREAT, then master it and depending on your mastering presets it may bring up the bass, or brighten the vocal that throws off your mix. Proper compression pre and post mastering is also EXTREMELY important. Another thing people overlook is having ACTUAL studio monitors that have a wider frequency range and sensitivity then headphones or regular speakers for mixing. DON’T forget to tune the monitors to your mixing room!!

    Just an example of the mixing process that most home engineers neglect is that everything has it’s frequency range, if you have a vocal that sounds purest between say 2k-5k then you need to lower or cut that frequency in the other instruments through the EQ so that there aren’t too many sounds cluttering up that space. Record things like guitar solos on a separate track so you can leave the frequencies that sound good for that section of the song with no vocal. Also, separate each section of the vocal (verse, chorus, bridge, ect) onto it’s own track so that you can EQ, mix and effect each section independently to get the right sound for each section.

    Think of the space in the song like a couch, if there’s
    only a couple people sitting on the couch comfortably spaced then everyone can watch TV all day long, if you have too many people on the couch, it’s not fun. Mixing music can also be thought of as a 3d space, EQ moves everything up and down, Volume is forward and back and panning is left and right.

    The two best DAW’s we’ve found are Studio One and ProTools, ProTools tends to have a better recording clarity than Studio One. We run through a 10 channel Tascam US-1641, our recording mic is a $50 Behringer C-1, most of the instruments are direct in through the Tascam, and we mic the drums with inexpencive Audio Technica mics – distance of the mics from the drum as well as proper gating has a GREAT deal to do with how they sound. And don’t forget to manually cut out all the “dead air” throughout the entire track, including between every vocal breath and every drum hit. Some DAW’s have features that do this automatically, but they rarely work right.

    Just remember, you can buy all the wrenches you want, but you’ll never be a mechanic until you know what makes the car run.

    a GREAT site to learn about mixing is Pensado’s Place by renown engineer Dave Pensado. His web videos “Into the Lair” give you lots of info about the Hows and what plugins to use. And Pensado’s Place itself has interviews with the top Engineers in the biz. http://www.pensadosplace.tv

    ALSO this video will blow your mind! http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=TEjOdqZFvhY

    and one last place to check out are the video tutorials on http://www.macprovideo.com

    on the other hand if you want to record a live show with astounding quality pick up a Zoom Q2HD. We’ve recorded a few shows with it and it’s just phenomenal how well it picks things up and the control you have over HOW it picks is up. And it records the video in HD – what more could you ask for! http://www.musiciansfriend.com/pro-audio/zoom-q2hd-handy-video-audio-recorder