I've been away for the week, so no posting comments or songs for me really. While away I had some time to think about something that seems easy to me, but maybe not to everyone, and that's writing rounds. If you're writing lyrics and music together, you can write a round, and honestly, the lyrics are optional. I'm going to take you through a 4 step basic process for writing a round, but of course once you get comfortable with it, you can get fancy and more complicated.
1. The first thing you'll need is some lyrics. To keep things simple, write 4 lines. A lot of rounds are just 4 lines, including Row Your Boat, Liza Jane, and Itsy Bitsy Spider. Your 4 lines don't have to rhyme, but I think it helps. FAR more important than rhyme scheme is meter. You have to make sure each line has the same number of beats. That's non negotiable. I recommend 8 beats for each line. There are only two tricky parts to writing a round and this is one of them. If you are not comfortable with this part, use a nursery rhyme like Jack and Jill OR use use an already existing round, like Row your Boat as scaffolding. Keep the same rhythm, but change the words... "Row Row For your boat" becomes "Live, love, laugh at life," or "Dance, dance, dance a jig," or "climb, climb, climb a tree." You see?
2. Pick your chords. This is the easy part. For your first round, pick one chord. Seriously. Just one. If you want to get ambitious, pick two related chords, like C and F, or Dm and C. For simple rounds, anything more than two ends up sounding really repetitive. If you've picked one chord, you're done with this step. If you've picked 2, create a pattern for your first line of music (like C on Beats 1, and 3, F on beats 5 and 6, and then back to C for 7 and 8... that's what I did in my example.). Whatever pattern you pick for your first line you have to repeat for every line. No exceptions. There you go. Easy. Record your pattern and let it go on for a while. If you want to have variation, change your picking pattern or your strumming pattern, but for your first one, again, keep it simple.
3. Write your melody. This is the other tricky part. Each line should start and end on a chord tone. So for instance, if your first and last chord in each line is C, your choices are C, E or G for tones. If you're not so good with figuring out chord tones, use your ear. Make sure the melody sounds really locked in with your chords, and you should try to not have every line start and end on the same chords. Like they shouldn't all start on E and end on C. Experiment until you have a melody that you like.
4. Record. Over the chords that you've already recorded, record yourself singing the melody a few times in a row. I usually do one verse all together, and then start the round the second time. You can do a 2 part or a 4 part round. If you are doing 2 part, then the 2nd part starts when part 1 gets to line 3. If you're doing 4 part, open 3 extra voice tracks. Each one starts once the first line is sung in the previous part. And that's pretty much it. You're done.
Of course these aren't rules and you can play with this process all you want. I wrote an example as a skirmish. One of the skirmishes was about using numbers, so I just sang the Fibonacci sequence and then wrote a line at the end to have a rhyme and tie it all together. I'll probably write some other rounds this year. If you've written a round, post it here so we can all listen and learn from each other. If you want to try writing your own round and you're still not sure, ask questions. I'll be happy to answer them and offer advice!