Writing Music: It Doesn’t Have to Make Sense

If you listen to radio of late, you can see why some of us think a lot of current music just doesn’t make a lot of sense. Lines don’t seem to need to rhyme, sentences don’t seem to need to be connected, and music and rhythms can jump all over the map. If this new style is something you’d like to play around with, here are a few ideas to get you started.

Freeform Lyrics Can Be Fun

Many of us have studied the work of E. E. Cummings, and, for that matter, The Doors. Just as an exercise, try writing some really poetic line describing something you are feeling or sensing right now. Now write another line, just like the last. Add a few more, just for fun – they don’t have to rhyme, be the same length, or even be about the same subject. Now try matching them up to some music you might have lying around, or just rapping them out along with a drum track.

This may take a little getting used to, and you may find you don’t like it, but just the effort of trying something new may, at the very least, inspire you to rewrite what you just composed in a way that does rhyme and have more of a rhythmic flow. In jazz and many other song forms, though, if the lyric is a little short, just add a lot of adlib notes to it and have fun stretching those syllables for all they’re worth.

Have Fun Just Writing Riffs

Some of the best rock songs have been written by just coming up with a really hooky riff, and adding other hooky riffs after it, then repeating what you’ve created, or adding more fun goodies to go with your new ideas. In a lot of current music, though, you can have fun trading off those hooks with several different instruments, in sort of a call-and-response sort of way, so it sounds like they are having a musical conversation. In a lot of jazz, the instruments take turns in the spotlight, so you can even just have a meeting of folks in your group and tell each to come up with a neat music figure for the next practice, then all take turns playing them.

As appropriate, you might try changing keys, or asking everyone to come in with stuff in one key in particular. Sometimes, though, just modulating to another key or mode can accidentally create a great turning point in the song you are jamming out, so you might even try just leaving things as they are and just taping the session to come back and listen to at some later time. You can always just tweak the song on the computer until you like it, but, if your group has worked together any time at all, you might be really pleased with just what you folks come up with on a moment’s whim.

Samet Bilir writes about technology trends, digital camera reviews, and photography, such as best photography monitors and sandisk extreme card. To read more articles from him visit his website at chi-photography.com.

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