Wednesday, May 12, 2010

4♦ Guess the music

4♦ Four of Diamonds in The Rock Songwriter’s Deck: 52 Ways to Write a Song

The Four of Diamonds suggests a roundabout method for creating a new song. First, find a lyric sheet for a song you don't know. (Hint: You can do a Google search for some random combination of words, plus the word "lyrics.")

Write music for those lyrics, trying your best to guess what the original songwriter had in mind. When you're done, listen to the original song if you can. You'll probably be surprised at how different your treatment is from the song's original music. Most likely, you chose a different musical style, a different tempo, a different rhythmic structure, and different kinds of chords. (But if your music somehow ends up similar to the first songwriter's treatment, then you must throw your work out and start over with a different set of lyrics.)

Now you have just one little problem: your new song has lyrics whose copyright is owned by someone else. No sweat! Just write all-new lyrics for your new music.


Benjamin Ramey said...

Sounds like a pretty interesting exercise...

I was curious about the 'deck' - is this something you are assembling? Surely you have more than 52 posts by now.... Or what is the relationship to cards?

Mark Bryan said...

I got to say that by far, this is one of the most creative and helping songwriting/music help sites I've seen so far. However, I had an idea. I was thinking of taking all of your posts and copying them into a word document so that some day when I get stuck, I could just flip to a random page. Then I thought of an idea for you. You should compile all of the posts into a book and sell it. I know that I would definitely buy it.
Anyway, I just thought that I would comment my idea for you. Keep the posts coming!!!!

Paul Nordquist said...

Benjamin: I explained the Rock Songwriters Deck when I launched it way back in September 2009. See this post:

With 52 cards, one a week, the Deck should take a year. Actually with two jokers it's 54 cards, and I missed a few weeks along the way, so the Deck will wrap up in October 2010. When it's done, you'll be able to shuffle a deck of cards at home, pull out one card, and look up the songwriting method that goes with that card.

Mark: I appreciate the vote of support! For now I'm just trying to get everything I know about songwriting posted on the blog. There is a ton of stuff that I still need to cover, and it's a challenge just to find the time to write everything down. Anyhow, I'm glad you are finding it helpful!