HomeForumsOther TopicsToday's Newsletter – Songwriting

This topic contains 17 replies, has 9 voices, and was last updated by  grondak 2 years, 5 months ago.

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  • #5542

    Doug Marks
    Keymaster

    Please enter your comments on the newsletter here. I reference two links in the article. One reference is to a newspaper story on how classical masters borrowed from previous works to create new pieces: Article 1  The second reference is to an article on the “Blurred Lines” controversy: Article 2

    Be sure to click on the “paper” tab at the top of the article.

    Metal Method Guitar Instructor

  • #5549

    superblonde
    Keymaster

    As a rock n roll fan, one of my frustrations has always been about how artists rarely or never discuss the origins of their music, even in general terms. Never discuss creative inspirations. I have just always been curious about the music that I rock out to. Great newsletter, spells out clearly why much is kept secret. Too bad. The few times that artists do talk about their songs really stand out to me, though usually they are more in terms of the artist kind of complaining, typically like, “I can’t imagine why audiences go crazy for this song because it’s basically just a faster version of [insert name of what’s considered a stodgy rock song from 40 years ago here]”. I remember a quote from Kurt Cobain (or falsely attributed to him) saying how he expected everyone to bust him for ripping off The Pixies but he was relieved when ‘that never came up in the magazines’. After reading several rock start autobiographies, the most ever written about what are considered the most classic and foundational rock songs by the song writers themselves (or their ghost writers) is usually no more than a two sentence summary. (The other side of this is horrible interviewing by rock journalists: “so tell me about the songs on the new album, do they rock?” … gimme a break! Ask better questions!)

    Do you have an opinion on music Copyright expiration? The length of copyright keeps growing as the deep pockets press to keep expanding the law I think? I kinda feel like a copyright should not outlive the life of the artist and certainly not outlive the lives of their descendents. Turns everything into just business lobbying, not artistic expression.

    Also one angle that I see more of now, is how many classic bands didn’t write their ‘signature songs’ themselves anyway. Even for a performer who is directly recording a song from another songwriter, that’s pretty far removed from the creative act.

    I’ve always been curious how artists like Wierd Al continue to do their songwriting thing (blatantly play others’ songs, with new lyrics). Satire is covered as fair use, how far does it go? But perhaps he is good about negotiating royalties far in advance?

    I'm an intermediate student of Metal Method. I play seitannic heavy metal. All Kale Seitan! The glutens will be eaten with relish!
    And on the Seventh Day, Mustaine said: ∇ ⨯ E = - ∂B / ∂t ; and there was Thrash; and it had a ♭3; and it was good.

  • #5551

    safetyblitz
    Participant

    Further to Doug’s points, here are a whack of youtube videos about pop music megahit producers Max Martin and Dr. Luke:

    boyinaband talks about Max Martin

    DNews on pop formulas:

    Christina Aguilera on working with Max Martin:

    Dr. Luke news segment:

    Dr. Luke speaking at Create Music EXPO

  • #5553

    Stu g
    Participant

    This Aussie band toured with Slash before Apocalyptic Love came out, the riffs sound similar ( i’ve queued them up ) and check out the dates on the uploads, just sayin 😉

     

  • #5555

    Anonymous

    I agree  for a song to be popular  it needs  to  sound familiar. Steel  Panther  are masters  of  this. Not the most technical  band out there, but they write  songs that  sound  familiar  and have catchy hooks. Even  though  the content is off color people  love them  because  the songs sound  familiar. Good  article.

  • #5559

    safetyblitz
    Participant

    Even though the content is off color people love them because the songs sound familiar. Good article.

    I don’t particularly care for the salacious nature of Steel Panther’s lyrics, but I suspect that many people like their songs largely BECAUSE of the lyrics. It’s part of their whole caricature of 1980s excess. If they weren’t so cartoonishly over the top (including the overt sexuality of their lyrics), I don’t think people would find them nearly as interesting. And being so over the top also allows audiences who are too young to have lived through the 80s to feel safe liking them with a sense of ironic detachment, because even if they are an “affectionate” parody of 80s excess, they are still a parody.

    Steel Panther seems to get to have their cake (or pie?) and eat it too: they aren’t insulting enough of the 80s to turn off the nostalgia crowd (as far as I’ve seen), but they lampoon 80s rock enough to appeal to people who think 80s rock at face value would be “uncool”. They give people a license to indulge in an 80s party vibe without feeling self-conscious. That really sums it up. Steel Panther, on an emotional level, is like a contemporary party with an 80s theme.

    Lyrically and thematically, I think I actually liked The Darkness even more, because I found them more evocative of a general Spinal Tap style of rocker cluelessness, versus the non-stop sex angle of Steel Panther. I don’t think there’s ever been a more brilliant album title than “One Way Ticket to Hell… And Back”. Though I guess musically they’re pretty different as well. The Darkness leaned more towards a classic AM Rock sound and style, versus the glam metal style of Steel Panther.

  • #5564

    MattKnox
    Participant

    I had always thought that being a songwriter would be awesome.  When I was in my teens and first started playing it seemed like I would write riffs left and right (probably not good ones).   Then went on for years of “writers block”.  A couple years ago I started kicking ass again writing, then nothing.  Now I have really thought about writing and joining ASCAP or BMI or something because I know I will never be a famous rock star.  But there is that shot at being a guy who sold a few good songs.  I never new “how” to correctly write songs and have started doing quite a bit of research on this lately.  This article couldn’t have at a more perfect time.  Thanks Doug.

  • #5565

    superblonde
    Keymaster

    “The trick with a new song,” said Hiatt, a songwriting veteran whose work has been recorded by Bob Dylan, B.B. King, Bonnie Raitt, Iggy Pop and many others, “is that even when you’re playing it for the first time, people feel like it sounds familiar.”

    I can relate to this. Rare rock songs when you hear them for the first time just sound completely perfect and you know the chord changes and turnarounds right before they are supposed to happen. Not just talking 12-bar blues which is very standardized, other songs have this familiarity too. It’s a great effect and usually makes me really dig a song especially after many listens. These songs are unique and fresh yet predictable. So how does being overly derivative & simplistic fit into the mix? For whatever reason I can’t stand the songs of Nickelback – they are too predictable to the point of being cheesy and pedantic, I immediately have to turn off the radio when those songs come on. The band is not liked because they are so formulaic. I dunno how to detail where that line is, between being lamely-formulaic and familiarly-cool but I seem to know it when I hear it.

    On the flip side there’s prog metal. Which seems totally randomly complex yet amazingly compelling to listen to. For example early Voivod or whatever math metal is niche-popular now. Some great songs yet very unfamiliar and foreign at first. It’s those albums where you say, “I haven’t gotten into this album yet, I need to give it a few more listens to hear what it’s about.”

    Another thing in the newsletter is about “Making $5 Mil in one hour’s work” — well, really, it took them a lifetime to get to that level, didn’t it? So it still is making it over many, many years with a lot of failure involved. But it’s easy to forget that. I think on the coursera berklee songwriting class someone posted an article by a songwriter which said: you’re gonna write really bad songs for at least a year or more, and then you’ll get slowly better. I wonder how long those guys have focused purely on songwriting and performing their songs to get that feel for what works and what doesn’t.

    As for Dr Luke.. it explains a lot about the horror of today’s sound-the-same Pop, to know that one guy is controlling all this manufactured-music today (or a few guys). He says he likes these pop songs and vocal ranges?! He has incredibly bad taste. He should try raising the bar and bringing the mass audience with him. “Brush my teeth with Jack” in the song lyrics?? That’s almost as bad as Steel Panther, who in my opinion are over the line into crass vulgarity. It takes talent and creativity to do innuendo and meaningful lyrics. “Got my B in the Back Hump Hump” or whatever doesn’t cut it for good artistic effort. Geez what happened to the days when a rock star said he wanted to be remembered as a poet. Bring back Morrison’s style! He wasn’t a genius lyricist but he was far better than these dudes today writing lyrics about their Humps.

    I'm an intermediate student of Metal Method. I play seitannic heavy metal. All Kale Seitan! The glutens will be eaten with relish!
    And on the Seventh Day, Mustaine said: ∇ ⨯ E = - ∂B / ∂t ; and there was Thrash; and it had a ♭3; and it was good.

  • #5571

    david
    Participant

    Even though the content is off color people love them because the songs sound familiar. Good article.

    I don’t particularly care for the salacious nature of Steel Panther’s lyrics, but I suspect that many people like their songs largely BECAUSE of the lyrics. It’s part of their whole caricature of 1980s excess. If they weren’t so cartoonishly over the top (including the overt sexuality of their lyrics), I don’t think people would find them nearly as interesting. And being so over the top also allows audiences who are too young to have lived through the 80s to feel safe liking them with a sense of ironic detachment, because even if they are an “affectionate” parody of 80s excess, they are still a parody. Steel Panther seems to get to have their cake (or pie?) and eat it too: they aren’t insulting enough of the 80s to turn off the nostalgia crowd (as far as I’ve seen), but they lampoon 80s rock enough to appeal to people who think 80s rock at face value would be “uncool”. They give people a license to indulge in an 80s party vibe without feeling self-conscious. That really sums it up. Steel Panther, on an emotional level, is like a contemporary party with an 80s theme. Lyrically and thematically, I think I actually liked The Darkness even more, because I found them more evocative of a general Spinal Tap style of rocker cluelessness, versus the non-stop sex angle of Steel Panther. I don’t think there’s ever been a more brilliant album title than “One Way Ticket to Hell… And Back”. Though I guess musically they’re pretty different as well. The Darkness leaned more towards a classic AM Rock sound and style, versus the glam metal style of Steel Panther.

    Well Said

    Steel Panther is on the fine line of funny and irritating.  Great band for chicks to get on stage and go topless. Its like an 80s themed rock party but they are the ones making the money. I am not a fan at all.

    The Darkness: If you like Queen-ACDC you will like the Darkness.

    Steel Panther…..I wonder if Weird Al wrote their songs.  😉

  • #5573

    safetyblitz
    Participant

    Another thing in the newsletter is about “Making $5 Mil in one hour’s work” — well, really, it took them a lifetime to get to that level, didn’t it? So it still is making it over many, many years with a lot of failure involved.

    There’s the old tale of the boilermaker who fixes a ship’s boiler with a single tap of his hammer, billing $1000 for the job. The ship’s owner is outraged and demands an itemized bill. The boilermaker breaks it down as follows:

    Tapping with hammer: $1

    Knowing where to tap: $999

  • #5610

    superblonde
    Keymaster

    Well Said

    Steel Panther is on the fine line of funny and irritating. Great band for chicks to get on stage and go topless.

    Proof that shock still works. At least it is sex-shock rather than horror/gore-shock. And their formula shock gets everyone here and elsewhere to talk about them, which is free marketing for them. Their songs are original though right? I mean they are not playing covers. They only used to be VH tribute band.

    About writing song melodies or leads and being unique. I learned recently that most melody lines in western music (as a familiar feel) use a final note that is descending rather than ascending (compared to non-western music). So that further narrows down the choices of unique, familiar, consonant-sounding melody lines. Try it, play a riff over a scale with the final note going up the scale, vs. down the scale. It sounds more regular (resolved, I suppose) to go in the downwards direction. Is this simple fact obvious? It wasn’t to me. Like go on the 6th string and play: 3,5,6,7,6,7 so the riff ends ascending, vs. 3,5,6,7,6,5 so the riff ends descending.

    I'm an intermediate student of Metal Method. I play seitannic heavy metal. All Kale Seitan! The glutens will be eaten with relish!
    And on the Seventh Day, Mustaine said: ∇ ⨯ E = - ∂B / ∂t ; and there was Thrash; and it had a ♭3; and it was good.

  • #5613

    superblonde
    Keymaster

    Also I want to ask: does the world really need more new songs? Aren’t we at a point in history were there is so much good recorded rock n’ roll that it would take a lifetime of listening anyway to dig all the stuff already out there? There are tons of well recorded rock bands from the 70s, 80s, 90s that I have not even heard the names of yet. Geez I haven’t even really done full-album listens to many of the classic, old-school rock greats like Nugent. Or even big names, like Dylan, sheesh, how non-well-rounded does that make me? Well it does make me younger 😀 not of that era..

    So, jazz guys play tons of “new” music by improv’ing over or extending their genre’s classic tunes. Maybe that is the new phase of rock and metal. I’m totally up for listening to a 35-minute thrash cover rendition of anything from Megadeth’s song catalog. The Ventures did it for classic pop rock.

    I'm an intermediate student of Metal Method. I play seitannic heavy metal. All Kale Seitan! The glutens will be eaten with relish!
    And on the Seventh Day, Mustaine said: ∇ ⨯ E = - ∂B / ∂t ; and there was Thrash; and it had a ♭3; and it was good.

  • #5619

    safetyblitz
    Participant

    Also I want to ask: does the world really need more new songs?

    Vsauce weighs in:

  • #5632

    david
    Participant

     

     

  • #5702

    superblonde
    Keymaster

    In January Taylor Swift applied to trademark five phrases from her latest album 1989 with the US government.

    “Party like it’s 1989”, “this sick beat”, “cause we never go out of style”, “could show you incredible things” and “nice to meet you, where you been?” were all apparently registered by the singer with the United States Patent and Trademark Office.

     

    (tangent, it’s a bit sad to trademark grammatically incorrect phrases..)

     

    I'm an intermediate student of Metal Method. I play seitannic heavy metal. All Kale Seitan! The glutens will be eaten with relish!
    And on the Seventh Day, Mustaine said: ∇ ⨯ E = - ∂B / ∂t ; and there was Thrash; and it had a ♭3; and it was good.

  • #5784

    superblonde
    Keymaster

    Artists’ rights are really messed up today. On the one hand, producers and publishers (often not the original artists) are suing each other for theft and monetary damages. On the other hand, very popular digital web sites hide their rights to theft in their user agreements (which no one reads) and allows any other user on their site to steal your stuff too.

    I was going to create an account on the new popular site Pinterest to share some projects I’ve done. (Pinterest in my eyes is kind of a like a blog site, but for attention-deficit people that mainly only look at pictures.) Look at the terms of agreement on Pinterest that I quote below. Not only does Pinterest get infinite rights to modify and reproduce anything you post but all of the other users also get infinite rights to modify and reproduce anything you post, even if you later delete the content or even your entire account from their site. Later on in the user agreement they claim to honor copyright – but I don’t see how this is possible considering they’ve just given everyone in the world the unlimited right to derive anything or even sub-license the rights to anything they want from anyone else’s media. So anyways I’m not going to create an account on Pinterest or share anything there.

    You grant Pinterest and its users a non-exclusive, royalty-free, transferable, sublicensable, worldwide license to use, store, display, reproduce, re-pin, modify, create derivative works, perform, and distribute your User Content on Pinterest solely for the purposes of operating, developing, providing, and using the Pinterest Products. … Following termination or deactivation of your account, or if you remove any User Content from Pinterest, we may retain your User Content … Furthermore, Pinterest and its users may retain and continue to use, store, display, reproduce, re-pin, modify, create derivative works, perform, and distribute any of your User Content that other users have stored or shared through Pinterest. https://about.pinterest.com/en/terms-service

    I haven’t read soundcloud’s or the other sites terms of service but now I am suspicious.

    Related to songwriter rights, there’s been an awesome set of news articles on Prince this month, including recording engineers describing that he really does write and record a brand new song every day, that he stores all of his recordings in a real vault, and he basically refuses to publish anything — perhaps until this ridiculousness is all worked out. (One of the band members mentions briefly, that 70% of these recordings are so-so, like random jams, but 30% is really, really good, and Prince even has two fully completed movies yet to be released.) I’m guessing that artists’ rights are a big deal to Prince, based on how he fought for his artistic rights even early in his career.

    I'm an intermediate student of Metal Method. I play seitannic heavy metal. All Kale Seitan! The glutens will be eaten with relish!
    And on the Seventh Day, Mustaine said: ∇ ⨯ E = - ∂B / ∂t ; and there was Thrash; and it had a ♭3; and it was good.

  • #5788

    metalj
    Participant

    SoundCloud is YouTube for music and is a very important service.

    Jay aka the letter J

  • #6289

    grondak
    Participant

    Grondak the Thread Necromancer strikes again:  The Berklee Press book, The Songwriter’s Workshop: Harmony by Jimmy Kachulis explicitly requires you to borrow from other songs to complete some of the exercises.  He calls these exercises, “Rewrite the Hits,” and further suggests:

    Throughout this book, you’ll use chord progressions from real hit songs, but will also learn to create your own variations.  In using the hits as a starting point, you’ll learn to write the way professional songwriters do: borrowing successful elements from various sources, and then reworking them into something new and unique.  This approach provides a solid foundation for your new ideas.

    I think we need to toss out the academics, now! 🙂

    Metal Method is helping me across the board!

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