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aka137
Metal newbie

Joined: Fri Jan 08, 2010 6:39 am
Posts: 99
Location: New Zealand
PostPosted: Tue Jan 01, 2013 5:13 am 
 

Hey guys im trying to write my first song and so far i have a bunch of riffs that i have written, with both the bass and guitar parts, but i am kind of stuck there how do you all get past this hurdle is it a matter of writing bridging parts or just experimenting with order to create a sense of flow within the piece?

Any advice u can offer will be much appreciated.

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ShaolinLambKiller
King Asshole

Joined: Fri Dec 07, 2007 6:10 pm
Posts: 12088
Location: United States
PostPosted: Tue Jan 01, 2013 10:35 am 
 

Just go with what naturally feels like a good progression. How i compose is directly from the gut, and many times how you hear a song I've done is practically the same order I had come up with the riffs.

if you can, record them in a way that resembles a song, and then go back and listen to it and see what might sound off or awkward. Try to think on a whole when composing as well, what every instrument will do. This of how it'll drop down to the bass or guitar to intro a riff, or how the drums might be singled out for some roll to go into the next riff.
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TheUglySoldier
Metalhead

Joined: Mon May 12, 2008 3:44 am
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Location: Australia
PostPosted: Tue Jan 01, 2013 11:07 pm 
 

Exactly. You have to picture it as beyond a collection of riffs - understand that instruments drop-out, re-appear, plays fills, etc - it isn't all just a sequential riff-to-riff-to-riff, although that is often what it is in the early stages. It can be a funny thing to hear for, and why I like composing with a partner.
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Big_Grand
Metalhead

Joined: Thu Nov 11, 2010 11:59 pm
Posts: 432
PostPosted: Tue Jan 01, 2013 11:30 pm 
 

This, in my experience these past few days, is really hardest when you arent playing with anyone. I can stand round and jam for 30 minutes playing something you'd hear off a boris record or an acid mothers temple record, then after I realize that that could be a song and I begin to try to write down whatever it was I just played to record, it just feel like a mess trying to actually put it together. My advice is to record whatever you do, even when you are just warming up, because you never know what a few arpeggios will turn into when you get carried away, then listen to what you did after you've recorded it and that might help some.

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diamond_famicom
Metal newbie

Joined: Thu Aug 02, 2012 2:03 pm
Posts: 34
Location: st. augustine, fl
PostPosted: Wed Jan 02, 2013 12:24 am 
 

think about what riffs can be played for a while and what can go over it. sometimes you can used a lead guitar to lead up to another part. also, try to avoid the overuse of start-stop changes. they are usually only good for once per song. sometimes "unfitting" riffs can work great if you adjust the tempo... but only if you think it will help the riff. or you can play a riff in the same tempo as the last one and then change tempo after playing it a couple times.
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soul_schizm
Metalhead

Joined: Wed Jun 01, 2011 8:55 am
Posts: 658
Location: United States
PostPosted: Wed Jan 02, 2013 12:45 am 
 

Yeah, this is really the "magic" of the creative process. There are an infinite number of approches to how songs can be written. And there's really not a right or wrong way to go about it.

Even worse, stuff I have written that I hated has received great feedback, and stuff I really liked? Universally hated! Argh!


Just keep trying new ideas, new approaches. My best advice: keep trying. Keep evolving. Keep going.

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ShaolinLambKiller
King Asshole

Joined: Fri Dec 07, 2007 6:10 pm
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Location: United States
PostPosted: Wed Jan 02, 2013 1:53 am 
 

Also stay true to yourself when writing... do stuff that you enjoy. Don't try to write stuff you think a certain audience will enjoy. You won't be as passionate about your art as if it was something that you truely enjoy hearing and playing.
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Goran
Metal newbie

Joined: Wed Dec 31, 2003 8:32 pm
Posts: 140
Location: Belgium
PostPosted: Wed Jan 02, 2013 5:27 am 
 

ShaolinLambKiller wrote:
Also stay true to yourself when writing... do stuff that you enjoy. Don't try to write stuff you think a certain audience will enjoy.

Good one... I should keep this in mind more often.

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ShaolinLambKiller
King Asshole

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PostPosted: Wed Jan 02, 2013 8:02 am 
 

it's the best advice I can give, it's what caused one of my old bands to break up. the singer started to want to push towards going in a shitty melodic route ala later the haunting and soilwork cause he thought it would get us signed immediately (for some reason even though he couldn't sing like either band) while really the guitarist and I wanted to go further towards necrophagist's style. But since the guitarist was best friends with the singer he went with him and now neither of them are doing anything.
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xThe__Wizard
Metalhead

Joined: Sun Nov 18, 2012 2:59 pm
Posts: 845
PostPosted: Wed Jan 02, 2013 6:17 pm 
 

Don't be afraid to push into new boundaries. A lot of people don't like when artists change and I really don't like that kind of attitude because its really selfish. Not liking the change that's one thing, but being angry because they don't play what "they" want that's just immature. Play for yourself not for others as others have said.
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Ball Cupper
Metal newbie

Joined: Fri Jun 03, 2011 7:51 pm
Posts: 116
Location: United Kingdom
PostPosted: Thu Jan 03, 2013 8:41 pm 
 

When I write songs, if there's a transition that seems quite abrupt I try to change the last bar or two of the riff. I'll repeat the riff 3 times, then have a variation that leads into the next section on the next repeat. That, or try putting the variation at different points during each verse.

So let's say we've got riffs A and B, they sound similar but have different phrasing in the second half. You could do
AAAB

or
AABA

or
AABC

or anything! It's interesting to come up with variations of the same riff that you can play in the same section, and can make a song sound more whole, rather than riff salad.
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ShaolinLambKiller
King Asshole

Joined: Fri Dec 07, 2007 6:10 pm
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Location: United States
PostPosted: Thu Jan 03, 2013 9:41 pm 
 

yea that's something I do, along with play a riff and then change how the drums are played to it to keep it interesting for both me and the listener.
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Voorvader
Metal newbie

Joined: Thu Jan 03, 2013 11:30 am
Posts: 41
Location: United States
PostPosted: Fri Jan 04, 2013 11:01 am 
 

1) get some elementary knowledge in music theory (this will help with scales which all riffs are written in)

2) write down, physically, the feel of music that your riffs are generally written in

3) find the intro, body, and conclusion (much like writing a paper; it should tell a story)

4) choose which riffs fit the intro, body, and conclusion; if you have gaps or riffs that you can't seem to fit, write new riffs, discard the bad ones, and keep trying the fit in the new ones until it sounds just like what you have visioned in your head (the vision includes vocals, drums, and guitars).

Note: The writing process is different for everyone, but this is a simple explanation of a basically flawless way of organizing a piece of music if done properly.
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Goran
Metal newbie

Joined: Wed Dec 31, 2003 8:32 pm
Posts: 140
Location: Belgium
PostPosted: Fri Jan 04, 2013 2:05 pm 
 

Voorvader wrote:
1) get some elementary knowledge in music theory ....

I beg to differ with your entire post.
EDIT: seems like we agree, as I just read from your post in another thread.
Sometimes, your approach will be highly succesfull, but it strongly depends on the genre.

I have written songs that people really like, yet I do not have any theoretic knowledge and I linked the riffs entirely by feel.
That is to say, I just look for riffs that sound right. Of course, this might be easier when you limit yourself to a scale, but it's no prerequisite at all.

And I'm pretty sure some metal classics have been written in a similar context.

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ClaymanOnFire
Metalhead

Joined: Sat Mar 12, 2011 8:13 pm
Posts: 465
Location: Nice try, Big Brother
PostPosted: Fri Jan 04, 2013 3:30 pm 
 

ShaolinLambKiller wrote:
Also stay true to yourself when writing... do stuff that you enjoy. Don't try to write stuff you think a certain audience will enjoy. You won't be as passionate about your art as if it was something that you truely enjoy hearing and playing.

First and foremost, this. After finding a band that successfully did this, my outlook on writing music has made a definite turn for the better.

Anyway, the way I usually write music is either through playing variations on a particular riff until I happen upon another section, or I just start humming what I have so far and imagine where it coud go afterwards. It's also completely normal to go through a ton of riffs before you find something that fits. Usually by the time I've written a complete song, I have enough material left over for two more. A pedal board that records loops can go a long way too, and it's practically essential if you want to record stuff with a lot of layers.
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Porman
Sweek Souvlaki Muncher

Joined: Sun Mar 06, 2005 5:00 pm
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Location: Sweden
PostPosted: Fri Jan 04, 2013 5:00 pm 
 

Trial and error. There is no set formula that you have to follow.

When I was younger I used to write songs, now I write riffs. The difference is that now, I have 20 riffs and I try them together and see what fits and what doesn't. Before I would just stop with a song if I got stuck and go back to it the next day and the next until I had it finished.

Now I can have riffs lying for years until I find a place for them.
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ShaolinLambKiller
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Location: United States
PostPosted: Fri Jan 04, 2013 7:51 pm 
 

I just don't know how to manage that! meaning having riffs lying for years till having a place for them. I've always been able to write and compose something totally from the start of one riff.
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Porman
Sweek Souvlaki Muncher

Joined: Sun Mar 06, 2005 5:00 pm
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Location: Sweden
PostPosted: Fri Jan 04, 2013 8:17 pm 
 

I have riffs lying around that just don't fit what we're doing. They're not going anywhere, so they can be useful in the future in other projects.
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ShaolinLambKiller
King Asshole

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Location: United States
PostPosted: Fri Jan 04, 2013 9:55 pm 
 

Yea I understand the concept, I'm just saying I never have riffs lying around. when I come up with a riff that doesn't fit a project, I make a new one and then milk it by writing more songs for it. Which is I guess is strange to most people cause the times I do jam with people and they ask if I had some stuff lying around unused... well no. I never have anything unused.
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Porman
Sweek Souvlaki Muncher

Joined: Sun Mar 06, 2005 5:00 pm
Posts: 1544
Location: Sweden
PostPosted: Sat Jan 05, 2013 7:46 am 
 

I don't have time for that.. :D And I'm in no hurry.
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ShaolinLambKiller
King Asshole

Joined: Fri Dec 07, 2007 6:10 pm
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Location: United States
PostPosted: Sat Jan 05, 2013 10:11 am 
 

yea I know everyone is different.

spent a good amount of last night mixing this Ishimura album. It's been a year since the music side had been recorded I'm finally glad to see it complete.
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aka137
Metal newbie

Joined: Fri Jan 08, 2010 6:39 am
Posts: 99
Location: New Zealand
PostPosted: Sat Jan 05, 2013 6:23 pm 
 

Thanks for all your advice guys I really appreciate all the help and ideas you have given me.

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peewtCF
Metal newbie

Joined: Fri Nov 16, 2007 12:48 pm
Posts: 118
Location: forgotten in space
PostPosted: Sat Jan 05, 2013 11:56 pm 
 

ShaolinLambKiller wrote:
Yea I understand the concept, I'm just saying I never have riffs lying around. when I come up with a riff that doesn't fit a project, I make a new one and then milk it by writing more songs for it.
this shit has brought me too many problems. when I start jamming a riff it has to be fucking killer, therefore i just dont want to use every maniac riff i come up with in one song, because im afraid of losing all my thunder in just that one song. though it just feels wrong to use some half-assed filler riffs in verses or whatever.

have to say that building up songs other way than the basic pop/rock scale shit has been always fucking hard to me. i guess ya have to go just the way you feel, like many people have said here, but shit aint easy.
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ShaolinLambKiller
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Joined: Fri Dec 07, 2007 6:10 pm
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PostPosted: Sun Jan 06, 2013 12:20 am 
 

I know you mean no offense but in each song I create I don't write half ass filler riffs for anything I do. Everything I write has a purpose and I fully stand behind. If there was a riff I thought was half ass... I wouldn't play it at all. Basically every single riff and transition to each part till the song's completion is full thought out, ran through, and finalized to the upmost of care.
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Porman
Sweek Souvlaki Muncher

Joined: Sun Mar 06, 2005 5:00 pm
Posts: 1544
Location: Sweden
PostPosted: Sun Jan 06, 2013 6:41 am 
 

All the good reviews that we get on our new stuff, will probably make me less competitive and more relaxed in my writing. Shit like topping your previous work can really jam your creativity, which it did for a very long while.

I guess it was easier for me when I was younger, it was more innocent, more naive and I didn't compare myself to the stuff that I listen to. I would be inspired by it and try to come up with just as good stuff, but later it became more of a thing of, "I will never write stuff as good as that".

New year, new ideas!
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ShaolinLambKiller
King Asshole

Joined: Fri Dec 07, 2007 6:10 pm
Posts: 12088
Location: United States
PostPosted: Sun Jan 06, 2013 11:05 am 
 

I'm kinda getting in that mode of competitive writing with myself in my grind band 54R. cause we started out being more typical grindcore... just a bit faster pace than most... and I've been doing my best to just go further and further with it and in this latest album I finished up i've gone to full blown shedding all old grind influences to as what has been described as Immolation or deathspell omega playing grind. So now that i've done that I've set the bar extremely high for the next release. and hell i'm starting another band to go back and play more traditional grind like I started out doing cause now that's all i seem to be writting... so I might as well make good use of it. haha.
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Porman
Sweek Souvlaki Muncher

Joined: Sun Mar 06, 2005 5:00 pm
Posts: 1544
Location: Sweden
PostPosted: Sun Jan 06, 2013 11:36 am 
 

I just dropped that kind of thinking now and I will go back to my old self and just write riffs and if they are good, I don't care how simple they are or how untechnical they sound (is that even a word?).

It took me a while to realise that, but it took me even longer in how to handle it.
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ShaolinLambKiller
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PostPosted: Sun Jan 06, 2013 12:56 pm 
 

it's really only in 54R, cause I purposefully want to push and dominate. Everything else is stil pure feeling and hell 54R still is, Im just a bit more picky and actually with much of the material is actually very simple (at least for me) to play but sounds complex which is what I really like doing. I want people to be confused on what is happening and perplexed by it. I still do plenty of meaty 1-2 riffs to break shits up.
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soul_schizm
Metalhead

Joined: Wed Jun 01, 2011 8:55 am
Posts: 658
Location: United States
PostPosted: Mon Jan 07, 2013 1:20 am 
 

Porman wrote:
I have riffs lying around that just don't fit what we're doing. They're not going anywhere, so they can be useful in the future in other projects.


Yeah. I've got riffs that I call "free floaters." They are just there, and I play them (and have them recorded). If I think one will fit, I pull it out and try it.

Just a few weeks ago I did this, and the other musicians playing with me really liked it. That riff had been sitting around for over a year, and frankly I had grown tired of it. Now, it's incorporated into an arrangement and really sounds only tangentially like the original idea. It formed the basis of a new song.

I do think it is important to capture ideas. And it is not expensive. I use the voice memo function on my iphone if I need to. Works great. You never know...

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Goran
Metal newbie

Joined: Wed Dec 31, 2003 8:32 pm
Posts: 140
Location: Belgium
PostPosted: Mon Jan 07, 2013 2:17 am 
 

Me too, I have a "riff pool" file, which I browse through when I'm stuck on a song.
Even when they aren't fit for the song, listening to ideas from one or two years ago can be inspiring.

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TheUglySoldier
Metalhead

Joined: Mon May 12, 2008 3:44 am
Posts: 1679
Location: Australia
PostPosted: Tue Jan 08, 2013 3:01 am 
 

Goran wrote:
Me too, I have a "riff pool" file, which I browse through when I'm stuck on a song.
Even when they aren't fit for the song, listening to ideas from one or two years ago can be inspiring.


Definitely. Sometimes an aspect can be appropriated, I know I've changed the key and sometimes rhythm of riffs a lot to fit other ideas, or find a way to bring them in as interludes.
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Voorvader
Metal newbie

Joined: Thu Jan 03, 2013 11:30 am
Posts: 41
Location: United States
PostPosted: Tue Jan 08, 2013 11:01 am 
 

Goran wrote:
Voorvader wrote:
1) get some elementary knowledge in music theory ....

I beg to differ with your entire post.
EDIT: seems like we agree, as I just read from your post in another thread.
Sometimes, your approach will be highly succesfull, but it strongly depends on the genre.

I have written songs that people really like, yet I do not have any theoretic knowledge and I linked the riffs entirely by feel.
That is to say, I just look for riffs that sound right. Of course, this might be easier when you limit yourself to a scale, but it's no prerequisite at all.

And I'm pretty sure some metal classics have been written in a similar context.


Many songs HAVE been written without any knowledge of music theory, but for someone who is having a difficult time with putting riffs together it is a good way for them to get started. I have extensive music theory knowledge, but I learned it all after I learned most of my guitar abilities. So I do agree, there are people who do it without theory, but people are struggling should probably head in the direction of knowledge.
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ClaymanOnFire
Metalhead

Joined: Sat Mar 12, 2011 8:13 pm
Posts: 465
Location: Nice try, Big Brother
PostPosted: Tue Jan 08, 2013 8:24 pm 
 

I agree with Voorvader. I've learned basic theory, and while it doesn't directly influence my writing (I still prefer constructing chords note-by-note by ear for instance), it helps me better understand and dissect what makes a certain sound or song so good.
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ShaolinLambKiller
King Asshole

Joined: Fri Dec 07, 2007 6:10 pm
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Location: United States
PostPosted: Wed Jan 09, 2013 2:40 pm 
 

there are many different ways to tackle it. Sometime I actually visual what a riff would be if it was a shape, as in something extremely angular, sharp and I start manipulating the strings to match what I'm picturing. Many times when I would be learning songs for older bands I actually associated riffs with shapes or objects subconciously I suppose cause I didn't actively go out to take a riff and think of a forrest of trees or a boat anchor but everytime I would practice a song the same images would pop into my head to where I think of those objects in a sequence I think of the corresponding notes for some reason. I just now reverse it and picture something and then write it to achieve that natural thinking process as weird as that sounds.
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Voorvader
Metal newbie

Joined: Thu Jan 03, 2013 11:30 am
Posts: 41
Location: United States
PostPosted: Fri Jan 11, 2013 11:27 am 
 

ShaolinLambKiller wrote:
there are many different ways to tackle it. Sometime I actually visual what a riff would be if it was a shape, as in something extremely angular, sharp and I start manipulating the strings to match what I'm picturing. Many times when I would be learning songs for older bands I actually associated riffs with shapes or objects subconciously I suppose cause I didn't actively go out to take a riff and think of a forrest of trees or a boat anchor but everytime I would practice a song the same images would pop into my head to where I think of those objects in a sequence I think of the corresponding notes for some reason. I just now reverse it and picture something and then write it to achieve that natural thinking process as weird as that sounds.


Mental strategies such as his are a great way of doing it once you've personalized the process for your own writing. And yes it does sound weird, but he's right, and the more you play/write, the more you'll understand it.
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xThe__Wizard
Metalhead

Joined: Sun Nov 18, 2012 2:59 pm
Posts: 845
PostPosted: Fri Jan 11, 2013 5:56 pm 
 

ShaolinLambKiller wrote:
there are many different ways to tackle it. Sometime I actually visual what a riff would be if it was a shape, as in something extremely angular, sharp and I start manipulating the strings to match what I'm picturing. Many times when I would be learning songs for older bands I actually associated riffs with shapes or objects subconciously I suppose cause I didn't actively go out to take a riff and think of a forrest of trees or a boat anchor but everytime I would practice a song the same images would pop into my head to where I think of those objects in a sequence I think of the corresponding notes for some reason. I just now reverse it and picture something and then write it to achieve that natural thinking process as weird as that sounds.


While I don't get images I definitely look at my fretboard as kind of a connect the dots and use patterns and shapes that I think would sound good rather then focusing on the notes and scales it would fit in. It is also what I use to create chords.
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