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 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 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


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.