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Song writing from scratch A resource for KS3. The Delia Smith approach to song-writing: Simple ingredients done well All you need is: A pencil and paper.

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Presentation on theme: "Song writing from scratch A resource for KS3. The Delia Smith approach to song-writing: Simple ingredients done well All you need is: A pencil and paper."— Presentation transcript:

1 Song writing from scratch A resource for KS3

2 The Delia Smith approach to song-writing: Simple ingredients done well All you need is: A pencil and paper A chord instrument – guitar, keyboard, autoharp etc Something to record with – either manuscript paper, pencil and rubber, or a mobile phone, voice recorder, midi keyboard etc (from now on, ‘record’ means write notation or record audio)

3 Choose Key and Style Choose A Key where you know at least these chords; Major key I IV V vi (eg. in C: C F G Am) Minor key i bIII bVI bVII (eg. In Am: Am C F G) Choose A Style Imagine a band you like, performing a song you haven’t heard before. This will give the tempo, singing style, characteristic chord changes, strum pattern, phrases, instruments etc. Or choose a song or musical style to copy

4 Where to start Most songs follow this structure Verse1  Chorus Verse2  Chorus Bridge Verse3  Chorus (with an optional Intro using Verse or Chorus material; Verse 3 is sometimes omitted) So we just need to write: Verse Chorus Bridge

5 Thinking about the structure Initially, start with the melody: let it suggest the chords, and add the lyrics last. If you choose to start with chords (a common approach), it’s hard to resist the melody following them... so the melody ends up without a distinctive character or quality A melody is built up from phrases so choose a simple phrase – borrow one or imagine your own (see example 1) It can come from anywhere – rock, classical, folk, hiphop, guitar solos... originality doesn’t matter – when you’ve finished, it won’t be recognisable Just ONE phrase - work out which beat of the bar it starts on Record it

6 Creating the Verse melody Generate more phrases from the first You can:  Copy the phrase verbatim  Add notes to the phrase  Subtract notes to make a melody (see example 2), working one or two bars at a time Add Chords to this couple of bars:  Hum the melody so far and try chords I IV V vi (major) or i bIII bVI bVII (minor)  Try chords until you have a sequence you like (see example 3)

7 Use these options to add more phrases Copy – original or modified version, and Add or subtract notes (see example 5) Alter timing – move timing of some notes (see example 4) Alter pitches –move pitches of some notes (example 5) Shift timing – move timing of whole phrase (example 5) Shift pitches –move pitch of whole phrase (example 4) Answer the phrase (example 5) After adding each new phrase, add chord/s as you go Choose custom or stock chord changes (see next slide)

8 Stock Chord Changes - Major I vi IV VBlue Moon, Beautiful Girls, Stand By Me, Every Breath You Take, Complicated, Girls Just Wanna Have Fun, Bleeding Love I viFrom Me To You, Buffalo Soldier, My Sweet Lord, That’s Entertainment, The Locomotion I V vi IVI’m Yours, No Woman No Cry, Torn, Fall At Your Feet, With Or Without You, Let It Be, Since You’ve Been Gone I IV I VLion Sleeps 2nite RockinAllOverTheWorld I bVII IVSweet Home Alabama, Sweet Child O’ Mine, Can’t Get Enough, Back In Black, Won’t Get Fooled Again

9 Stock Chord Changes - Minor i bVII bVIAll Along The Watchtower, Don’t Fear The Reaper, Stairway To Heaven, Rolling In The Deep i bVISomething In The Way, Californication, Sober, I Shot The Sheriff, Papa Don’t Preach i bVI bIII bVII One Of Us, Save Tonight, Patience, Complicated, IfIWere A Boy i bIII bVII IVBoulevard Of Broken Dreams, Run To You, Wonderwall, Mad World, Piece of Me, Fly Away See the site ‘The Axis of Awesome’ for more stock chord songs:

10 Chorus - The Singalong Bit (see example 6) Use the same process as the Verse to write the Chorus To create the buzz, make a musical high point by using: Much more repetition of phrases Notes in a higher register than the verse Dynamics, texture and arrangement Different chord changes or rate of change

11 Bridge (see example 6) Use the same process as the verse to create the bridge Now take the song somewhere else by: Using new phrases/different rhythm Using different chord changes Changing the rate that chords change Leading back into the verse at the end

12 Lyrics - principles ‘Lyrics are pitched mouth noises’ - Frank Zappa So lyrics just have to sound good, not mean anything. No one likes a song for its great lyrics if the melody is no good, but many good songs’ lyrics are gibberish (Teen Spirit, Wonderwall, All You Need Is Love, etc).

13 Lyrics - strategies So you can: Sing the melody with gibberish vowels and record it. Play it back, write down what it sounds like, and impose a bit of grammar as you go (Oasis) Allusion – refer to a story only you know about without explanation (Dylan) Pick a title and free associate. Rhyme if you feel like it (Nirvana) Choose a phrase or saying that fits part of your tune, then fill in the rest like a crossword (Beatles) Musical diary – ordinary day to day stuff (Madness, Kinks, Ian Dury)

14 Some final tips... Pull other songs apart to see how they’re made. Use the ingredients in your work. These are just suggestions; if you have a better idea, use it There’s nothing wrong with simple Don’t be critical of your work at first Don’t worry about being original – you might, you might not. It’s a pointless modern obsession that will only hold you back. Being original is no guarantee of quality; most original ideas are no good.

15 Some final tips... continued Work out your song-writing muscles. If you write 200 songs, I guarantee the 200th will be better than the first. If an idea doesn’t work, try something else ‘Influences’ are other people’s ideas – AKA being inspired by, borrowing, stealing etc Keep building – don’t review what you’ve already written, get on to the next bit Try repeating a phrase over changing chords


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