Song template / cheat sheet?

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I was wondering if you guys have an approach to outlining songs? I write in Evernote and have two main files. One is a dumping ground for song title or musical theme ideas, and another file with my song template which is largely derived from Pat Pattison's lyric writing Coursera. For every song I copy-paste this cheat sheet and use it to shape to the song. My cheat sheet includes
-Skirmish time breakdowns: I set a timer for 5min brainstorm, 25min lyrics, 15min composition, 15min recording/editing.
-A list to fill out in the brainstorming stage: summary (one-line concept for the song), who's talking and to whom, time/place setting, song mood, musical theme (genre, or just the feel). Pattison has this concept of "boxes" for developing the song's journey, where each box "gains weight" and moves the song forward, so I've got Box 1-3 to fill out.
-Pattison's table of family rhymes: this is kinda technical but I've found it super helpful in quickly finding rhymes. It's got groupings of similar consonants (eg. P/B, T/D, K/G are the voiced/unvoiced plosives - top/mob, heat/bleed, clock/dog)
-Major and minor chord tables: eg. I/vi IV/ii V/iii/viii dim for major. Also just added a pic of the cycle of 5ths.

Not in the cheat sheet, but I've always got Thesaurus.com and Rhymezone open as well.

I usually eighter start from the prompt (IF i have one) or My Brain just starts to spit out a story which I basically scribble down while it comes to me.
I Hardly ever have the full story clearly outlined before scribbling.
Altough I keep Pattissons boxes in My Brain and try to make the story come out in the I-You-us form while writing.
Usually I also use a rhyme list and when I got a "perfect line" and need something to rhyme with it it some Times' get really weird course the weirder words the rhymelists suggeat the more challenged I get to make it fit.

I find a variety of methods are helpful. A scribbled melody line (or sound clip that I have recorded), a full sheet of finished lyrics, or a studio chart of chord changes minus the melody (I have to add that). A drum track only ( or bass line), and then start playing with what I hear. So, no established template. Just depends on the day, and what I have to work with.

i also use Evernote to write lyrics. I usually make a grid/text boxes so there are 4 areas on the screen. one i write down the obvious ideas and good words and brainstorm associated words, under that i write a few rhyme potentials or developed linked words or phrases. a rough sketch of odd lines top right box and the song itself gradually appears under that. I also use rhymzone and thesaurus .com loads, even if i end up using my own ideas that are sometimes astonishingly missing from rhymezone, I like having so many possibilities laid out in front of me that sometimes trigger other ideas.

For 50/90 it has so far been...

Noodle on guitar, riff comes.
Print out tab sheets and write riff.
Come up with more riffs until it seems like enough.
Start recording and improv the structure
Write lyrics in a notebook I got just for this, I have a K-On sticker on it for inspiration...it works actually
I come up with my vocal melody as I listen to the track normally, I am a guitarist at heart so I try to make them more interesting, so I make sure I do something crazy or whatever to make it possibly less boring

I like to do things really quick. I used to write lyrics then write chords over them but once I started writing tabs for my songs they became much a lot better. In general I prefer to not so much think as let the song beam into my brain and record it as soon as I get the idea.

None whatsoever. Biggrin

Sorry.

Lyrics wise I keep a notebook around. I keep lists of songs I want to write and scraps of lyrics as well as set lists and random stuff too. I like seeing the mistakes and cross outs. I kind of like how messy it is. Most of the time when I'm working on a song, the melody sticks in my head and I work out the rest while I'm recording it in logic. If if's a fiddle/mando tune I might sketch out the melody and chords on a scrap of staff paper.

I do improvisation for first drafts and odd bits of inspiration. My process is:

1. Read at prompt, or decide on theme or topic, or focus on a vague feeling I don't have words for
2. Start recording.
3. Start singing
4. About half-way through the song, (sometimes later) I get a clue as to what I'm singing about.
5. Keep singing until we get at least 2 minutes (but preferably 2.5-3) of material
6. Add instrumentation around the crapcapella draft (optional, and of varying quality)
7. Post the song (only if during a skirmish, otherwise I wait)
8. Transcribe the lyrics from the unprocessed vocal track
9. Update the post.

My bin of partials and ideas are mostly audio clips.

[Have time to go through some of these great threads!]

I don't have a template, however I am fully aware of "Song Forms".

For me, it is like "writing"..., if I really want, or have to write right rite I will Smile How'vr if say'in stuff another way, colloquialisms, I will, I Will Wink

Most of the "systems" (songwriting), while labeled differently, are rowing in the same direction. However, "everyone" seems to see say do and hear watch react differently, so, we have the many "methods". Yes, there are many ways to skin a cat, but it's still a bloody mess Lol (Though allergic, I do love Cats...)

I sometimes hear a song entirely "wrong" -- but I pay attention to that, and what I reacted to, and was thinking about. I write it down, and then proceed, "feel" around for a chord modulation, a rhythm and see how it goes.

Typically, several months later, if "it" still appeals to me, it may get a place in the play-book.

As far as Pattison's course, or any "method", --if one has a template, they also have a foundation from which they can change things around. Sometimes, that's all "we" may have... like the very good post of clipping song titles and arranging them on a table top (I think cricket posted that one?).

Anyway, song form is "easy", so is any "base" song modulation, rhythmic melody I IV V, 4/4 ... the "hard" part is getting an emotional, cognitive reaction that echos in Lyrics to "that".

-- So, whatever gets you "there", do it.

I saw a brief interview with Paul Simon who said... [he tended to get depressed if he had not written anything in a while, being afraid, that was it, he was done, no more music, -- very paraphrased] So, if Paul Simon "freaks out" a bit from time to time... well, derUgo Lol

As far a "writing" goes, I do write my stuff for "me" and am amazed anytime someone else says, hey, "I'd pay to see/hear you", why don't you play out more... or, even any (any) comment comes back as they were affected in any manner. However, for a very long time, "my" stuff, I never played for anyone. It's kinda why I drifted toward "Drums" ... it simply involved sitting down and supporting "them" behind very large cymbals... you knew I was there, couldn't live w/o me, but had none of the krappe to deal with.

-- Great forum thread... glad I found it!

Gotta say that through 50/90 my process changed quite a bit. I noticed that my music-first songs usually had better melodies and rhythm, so had to fit lyrics in to music. Which is a much harder task than vice versa, for me anyway. Didn't use the formal template as much any more, just tried to keep the idea of emotional momentum and structure in mind.

Everything can be an inspiration - though I'm more of a J Lennon kind of guy - starting with some words, crazy rhymes, associations, or sometimes with some chords - 2 or 3 or 4 or 5 - getting a rhythm - sometimes you play with your instrument - you might get a hook (or not:)) but it gives you some direction - sometimes it's just the ambience around - grass, cows, city, shouting children, stars... etc. that gets you going. Probably it helps to keep a diary of song-worthy lines, though it rarely worked for me - it sometimes help to try any new instrument hanging around or software or singing in another language - even if you know just a few words... opening random books for clues... oracles... throwing coins ... or just traveling to new unexplored lands in trains, boats or aeroplanes... any kind of substances you take might guide you in some way or another... or not - be careful Lol songwriting is your own journey and there are no unthreaded paths - It basically and ultimately reflects your life in ways you sometimes don't expect but it does Lol Hope that helps! Lol Greetings from the Black Sea!

Everything can be an inspiration - though I'm more of a J Lennon kind of guy - starting with some words, crazy rhymes, associations, or sometimes with some chords - 2 or 3 or 4 or 5 - getting a rhythm - sometimes you play with your instrument - you might get a hook (or not:)) but it gives you some direction - sometimes it's just the ambience around - grass, cows, city, shouting children, stars... etc. that gets you going. Probably it helps to keep a diary of song-worthy lines, though it rarely worked for me - it sometimes help to try any new instrument hanging around or software or singing in another language - even if you know just a few words... opening random books for clues... oracles... throwing coins ... or just traveling to new unexplored lands in trains, boats or aeroplanes... any kind of substances you take might guide you in some way or another... or not - be careful Lol songwriting is your own journey and there are no unthreaded paths - It basically and ultimately reflects your life in ways you sometimes don't expect but it does Lol Hope that helps! Lol Greetings from the Black Sea!

Post template, --got something, then...:

Arrangement, can be the greatest affect.

It's said, Ginger Baker "made" every band he was in for the not commonly we'll know prolific arrangement ability he had, did, does... it can "be" the song more than the lyrics/music.

--- Put the hook line then chorus first, push the vocal up an octave and step down in 3rds, 5ths, add a Bar of Music no solo, increase tempo, sudden stop to silence, then proceed, add dynamics, simplify, delete unnecessary words, breakup words to be syncopated, get the vocals out of the safe zone mono-tone chest voice, push the facial mask spoken word, back off on the reverb Lol and, etcetera ...