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My Song-Writing Process

Carrying on from my last post I'm going to outline the process with which I go about writing music as a template to help other's develop their own. It's very important to clarify that each song-writers' process is unique to them, and although they may develop their own based off of someone else's, the combination of influences an individual has is what creates their own unique style.

My process can be rather fluid as I continue to develop my writing style with each new project I undertake, but I feel as though at this point in my development I have a reasonable foundation from which my development branches off of. In recent years I have become accustomed to a tablature creation software that has become this foundation that my process is based on, this being GuitarPro. GuitarPro is crucial to my song-writing as I can use it to demo songs without the need to record demo versions of anything I write. What GuitarPro spits out based on what I've put into it resembles a bit-tune version of the song, similar to the soundtrack to a retro video game. With this version of the song I can analyse what I've written and find out what works and what doesn't.

Before we talk more about GuitarPro though, let's talk about how I begin a song. There are several ways that I develop the initial idea that begins a song, these include: coming up with a riff or chord progression while noodling away on a guitar, developing a lyric/melody from making random vocalisations to myself or looking back at recordings I have made of either of these two methods and being inspired to create from it (always bank ideas!). A song also has the potential to manifest during random contemplation, this usually spawns drumbeats or vocal melodies. After the initial spark of a song, that is when I turn to GuitarPro, and from there usually my creativity cannot be contained.

I will usually fully develop the song based on the instrument the initial idea spawns from, completing the part for that instrument through the initial structure for the song. After this I will usually go to the bass and create basslines that complement either what the kick drum is playing or what the guitar/vocal melody is, depending on what comes first. If the drums did not initiate the song these will come next. The drums are crucial to the feel of the song, you can completely change a section's mood and feel based on where the snare and kick drums hit, so use that to your advantage when trying to spice up your music. After this I usually have a fully formed instrumental track, I will begin to listen to it in full at this point to see if there is need for any structural changes or to add anything I think could make the song more interesting. Once this is complete then I will turn to vocal melodies/any solo's for instruments. When writing vocals, unless a lyric spawned the song initially, I will write the vocal melody first and fit lyrics to those melodies. I use a guitar to map out the notes I am looking for and tab them in, these melodies usually only change if the lyrics I wish to put in don't fit them; however sometimes upon reflection a melody requires changing. once this is done I will ad vocal harmonies where appropriate and the initial demo of the song is complete!

Following this I usually let the song sit for a day or so, coming back to it with a fresh perspective. If I feel anything can be changed I will change it and then I send it to other people whose opinions I value to give me feedback. If there are any critiques I will listen back to the songs with a critical ear and make any changes I feel necessary. After this the song is officially demoed. An important thing to note is this process can allow for some substantially changes during recording, in particular vocal melodies and stylistic choices in instrument playing that may not come across in the bit-tune-esque demos that GuitarPro produces.

So that's my song-writing process. I try to mix it up as often as I can so that things stay fresh, but for every project/album I tend to use a similar method until it is complete. Also constantly look for inspiration for your ideas. I recommend listening to as much music as you can to do this as that is very important for developing your musical style, and don't be afraid to wear your influences on your sleeve, as long as you aren't ripping anybody off!

I hope this look into my song-writing helps people begin to develop their own processes. Song-writing can be incredibly enjoyable and when you establish a method that works for you it becomes even more rewarding, so keep at it!


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