Enforcer Approach To Instrumental Song Writing For Beginners - 14 Steps SI Lesson
A Lesson by GMCer Enforcer
Hi there good old GMC fellows, Here you'll find my way of approaching to guitar oriented instrumental song writing, I hope I can be usefull in my first SI lesson.
Well at first I must say, composing something new may be a challenge, there is no guarantee on making a masterpiece, and there are a multitude of ways to do that. Well my way of doing it is more like painting on fretboard rather than musicianship.Also my approach can be called inside-out, because I compose the choruses first and than the verses and in the end the bridge parts if there are any. Well here it is.
The 14 Steps
1-I try to concentrate on what I want to tell with this. I mean, what is the purpose of making this new song, what It'll gonna tell.
2-I simplify the story to be remembered later to a few words in my mind. And I pull out the main feeling as "regret", "glory", "pain", "spoiled girly wishing a new toy" etc.
3-I choose a scale pattern. That means It can be a minor or major or any mode available that I like, and gives me the feel of that particular feeling, the theme... And I learn that particular pattern and visualize on the fretboard.
4-I choose a root. Generally I start from a place that suits me half random half on purpose to make an easier placement of the pattern choosen in 3. That, with the pattern I chose earlier gives me the particular scale of the song.
5-I start to play. While playing I try to paint shapes in my mind on the fretboard restricting myself to the pattern. Ear is always active in this process, guiding me, sometimes driving me off the pattern but not so far. Well what I want to do here is to form a seqence of a few notes, easily remembered, developping in repetetive patterns. Generally my melodies are of a-b-a-c type. At this point I dont restrict myself with technique and "shreddermanship" I try to find the easiest way of explaining my theme feeling. That usually gives me the tempo too. I try this until I am really satisfied.
6-Now I have the tempo and chorus melody, I focus on forming the chords that will emphasize the melody, I look for available chords for the scale I used. Generally I look for strong feeling notes on my melody, the apogees and edges, and I try to match these notes from my melody with the chords that are related to the scale, that contains that particular note in the chord(1st 3rd or 5th are generally ok). I record the chord sequence, listen to it, play the melody with it, see the goods and bads, and I change as I please. And I try to remember the main feeling, see if it changes with the chords. When I am satisfied it means its ok.
7-Now is where the technique kicks in. I have all the techniques of guitar play at my disposal. I enrich the melody. Using thrills, sweeps, bends, tapping, alternate picking, legatos etc. Maybe some harmonisation will be even better. I remember that the feel is always the most important thing. I dont want to showcase my skills or form a gregorian chant, I want the melody sound good. So I dont sacrifice the melody for some bunch of speedy tricks. I always remember the technique used for the same note or sequence always change the feeling. So a B major sweep from B to B sounds always full, happier, and more complicated than the whole B note. Or bending an E to F# is always different than hammering F# after E. So I try to do the best. The keyword for the chorus I believe is "simple is better"
8-Now that I got the chorus, I try to remember the story or the say that led me to the theme feeling. I always thougt that the choruses are the title of the story and the verses with bridge are the paragraphs. So playing the chorus is just like yelling the title or the subject of a story, while verses are actually the tell of the story. Therefore it is harder to compose the verses than the choruses, because it is the actual story. And I belive most of the people who decides to write a song are having trouble because of this, when they try to compose the verses before the choruses, cos that actually means they are trying to write a story without a subject or theme. Well as I have the chorus now, I know what I am talking about and thats a lot easier. We will try to divide the story to small chunks and then compose the verses.
9-What I do here is mainly based on chords. I write down a list of chords available to me related to the scale that I used for the chorus. I play them along with the tempo, and try to understand how they feel. Are they suitable for that part of the tell? Is the emotion right? Then I form many sequences suiting my needs. I arrange them to form a complete story. Then I record them with the tempo.
10-I try to find new melodies over the chord sequences, still painting in my mind on the scale related notes on the fretboard. If I want to go further, I might use different scales suiting the main scale and chord foundation to express myself. I usually record all the stuff I try. I listen what I recorded lately, take the lovely parts, trash the unwanted ones. Verses can have their own little chorus like parts, they have ups and downs, they are not just a bunch of similar notes coming one after other.
11-I do what I did with the chorus, I use technique, this time more freely, to enrich, to emphasize, or maybe to showcase my skills too. Here I have more freedom to do that.
12-This is the part where the notion of the bridge comes to use. Generally I use them as a stepladder to link the chorus where there is a strong outlined feeling and idea, to the verses which are more loose and dispersed; maybe to prepare the listener for the upcomming apogee, or just to stop the train of thoughts of the verses, or just to take a little breath before the it rains "the feeling"... This time too, I start with chords, not as shinny or as concentrated like chorus but inbetween the verse and chorus feel somewhat. The melody of the bridge is more subtile. Remember our hero here is the chorus, not the bridge which can only be the second man.
13-When everything is over, I listen and re-listen, trying to arrange the verses, comparing the bridge(s) and chorus(es), looking if bridges can be better choruses than the actual ones. I see if everything fits nicely, If not, I make more verses or bridges to create new links or thrash the problem part. When everything is ok with the final work, I record it nicely, have a good day or take a nap, than after a few hours I listen to it again. If it sounds ok, it is ok.
14-Make others listen to it. Ask their opinions. Their reaction is crucial. They can see weak points that you couldnt see, and if they like it you'll feel very good indeed.
Well that is it. Hope I could be of assistance. If you have questions feel free to ask me. Good luck and have a creative time!