Insight on Song Structure with Ryan Clark
I'm really glad that you came back to do this people who didn't see the first one way talked for what like three hours four hours about song writing uh it was super insightful for me and I think the audience liked it a lot so one thing we didn't really get to talk about was melodies and song structure things and lyrics and figure that we would uh would do that now but for anyone who doesn't know who ryan is um vocalist uh you guitarist in the one hundred uh play I write most of the material um kind of program a lot of it when I'm in the demo ing phase um so I put a lot of the pieces together get it really close to final and then I have guys in my band they're better players than I am that kind of add a new element of technicality that, um you know it's a little bit outside my wheelhouse uh yeah guitars my main you know, the thing I started with uh, guitar and vocals in the first band I was in focal point uh it was about ninety four, ninety five that was just guitar on I joined what was...
my brother's band training for utopia at the time to just sing and so I just saying for a while in that van and then I played guitar and saying in that band for the last couple of years it was around and then when I started demon hunter with my brother um we wrote everything together and I just saying when it came to live I would just sing the first few records I recorded all the guitars and base how many songs would you say you've written at this point and that's even at it for a while like actual recorded songs like close probably close to one hundred? What about the ditch songs as well? You know a number on that I don't I don't write a ton of unnecessary material usually I get like a tenth of the way into a song before I realized that I'm not going to use it yet and I just discard it so I don't have a ton of full unused songs there's there's a handful for sure I would say, since demon hunters inception there's probably twenty um but usually I I know pretty early on in the process whether or not I'm going toe like how something is going and whether or not it's going to make it all the way through the recording process um you got faster with it I've gotten faster with being able to differentiate those two yeah like whether or not it's going to work I think that that's something I know we've touched on it before, but I think that the willingness to ditch so let go let it go if it ain't working uh I think that that's a really really good thing and it's a good mark of awesome writer um I actually have a lot of my stuff ditched um I'd say maybe sixty percent when I go to write an album I'm expecting with sixty percent to be cut yeah, I feel like just, you know, seven albums in I feel like I really know what demon hunter sound is and what's gonna work for us what's not most of the time when I did something it's not because I don't think that there's something cool about it most of the time I think that I did it because it's just not a demon under song fair enough it could be you know, sometimes it could be a napalm death song or sometimes it could be an iron maiden song but it's um usually the reason for ditching it is that it just doesn't work for us not that I'd just completely just like it altogether fair enough. I think that once a band is established and audience has certain expectations even though you shouldn't pander to your audience, you should still fulfill their expectations as yeah as a company yeah, I like playing outside of the confines of what we're supposed to be a little bit just enough to keep things interesting, but I also like the idea of maintaining a overall style and aesthetic that people have grown to love and have come to kind of expect so I feel like exploring or taking small little turns um is best done just just outside the like parameters of what we've said I've read somewhere that it's wise teo on lee go eight percent outside outside the box exactly outside what your core market is looking for or yes, the box he created something I've heard that like eight percent for evolution is you know that whatever out yeah like eight percent per offering or whatever is like the magic number in business for how much a business can yeah yeah anymore than that and you start tio start to weird out your audience yeah start to lose people for sure so many one on the topic of ditching songs do you guys ever keeping archive and cannibalize some of those ideas later on in time? Or how does that go about just out of the mind out of sight? Uh I don't I mean I don't delete anything, but I always figure out write something better now than I did then um here's a few gems that I have from a while ago that I would still like to get used, but in general me personally I always think I can do a better job then I did a year or two or three or four go from your perspective on exactly the same yeah I would say of the songs that I have that are kind of completed our close to completed that I discarded um I feel the same way like I could probably do better if I was to just go from scratch now you know three or four years later but definitely don't ever delete anything um it's nice to keep an archive of just you know, your work in the process you know um and you never know like someone might want uh you to write a song or ask if you have a discarded song for another purpose and something that you may have discarded in the past may work great for someone else or for something else yeah, totally uh I just feel with older music that it's hard to get back into that headspace like the music I write is a it's like a a moment in time and in a moment an emotional development and all that moment in life experience and it doesn't always make sense to me going back like I could have felt really strongly about it a few years ago right going back it just doesn't really I'm just not there anymore I would say if I were to go back to something it would it would undergo a lot of change going quite a facelift I would take really small elements of it maybe what's at that point what is the point right yeah yeah well relevancy is built into that process that I mean, you know, personal relevancy also like white relevancy is your audience going to accept the same way that you could put it out that's really interesting? Well, that that's important if you want tio if you want to do this for career uh you can't have a career in music in a vacuum so and as muchas as muchas I think that people would love to have this romantic notion that what the audience wants doesn't matter it's simply just not true I mean obviously there's a fine line between pandering and just being smart but uh yeah if if you're not you're not in tune with your audience you really don't have much in my opinion not in this style, music or any really so and go over just real quick we're gonna kind of touch on this stuff but this is the stuff we talked about in the last class uh just wanted to go over real quick in case you guys feel like you're missing it in this go check out the last one went over hook writing and yes, it incorporating influences into your song writing without plagiarize and we talked about writer's block for a while we talk what about preceding songs and we talked about transitions but we'll still talk about some of that today if anyone's looking for any of that stuff the other song writing class we did together is is the way to go this one is more about vocals and lyrics we're going to go through a few examples of how to use tension and within lyrics and vocals and how to come up with good vocal patterns, how to use lyrics effectively and anything I'm missing we're gonna think of you know, just kind of run with it as it goes all right cool so real quick just to kind of recap also that I think that without a structure I really do do you think this song is just a run on sentence it's just a part a part you know or like parts in space which is part part part part part it's not really a song to me it's it's just a collection of parts I think that the structure defines the song and lots of ways because it tells you where your tension is, where your resolution is and it's means your guidelines it's all right there you know where everything goes many thoughts about that yeah, I mean, I think that can look really abstract on dh still fit under those parameters um it doesn't have to be like a pop song and it's still and still fit under those confines you know, it can actually be pretty oddball and still work in that but there, you know, even with a song that was just maybe cem sounds you know, something that was really ethereal I mean, there's still going to be elements of tension and build on dh um, resolve and even if there's not even a rhythm there's going to be some of those elements that make it that give it a start in a point? Well, it doesn't have a start and what is it, it's? Just like walking into a conversation midway, right? And walking out without knowing what it was about or what? The point, right? Totally, uh e think that was a good song does have a beginning, a middle and an ending it it has a central viewpoint and it takes you through that viewpoint and expresses the point and then it's over as opposed to just ramble, ramble, ramble, right? It should be a journey should have a point a and point b and it doesn't really matter where it takes you on that journey. It could be like kind of a straight line and could be kind of crazy but definitely needs to be a journey and not just a standstill. Well, what that said, um I know that you don't exactly think this way, but for people who have never really thought about song structure there's to my understanding in basic music education, there's six primary song forms and like ninety percent of western songs are in one of these six forms most of them are actually informs three and four uh those air you know the verse chorus verse chorus or first chorus bridge first course I mean verse pre chorus chorus first recourse chorus bridge chorus or first chorus verse chorus bridge course course most songs like that I mean with some variation but I think that uh if people learn these structures it especially people who don't understand structures uh incorporate this into your active listening when you're listening other people's songs try to figure out what song form they're using or distorting I think that that will help a lot understand structure and it doesn't mean that you have to stick to it every time I don't think that I don't think that the idea of having good structure means reinventing the wheel or anything it's just adding your own take on it um there's a lot you can do within just one of those structures um yeah, I was telling you like ninety seven percent of demon under songs over the course of seven records fit into one of those which was, you know, three or really close to it which would be verse pre chorus chorus second verse pre chorus chorus bridge double chorus you could hear that in almost every song but with that said I mean there's huge variations between you know this song and that song? Um so yeah it's it's not like using utilizing that structure is going to make it sound like a pop song or like a whatever you know, whatever your most popular version of that structure would be lucky to have their stuff sound like a pop song. Yeah, sure uh, only most people were that good. I I honestly think that pop writers are total top of the food chain as faras e I think it's in certain circles in certain kind of genres and interests in the relativity of all that I think people look down on pop music for, you know, for the obvious reasons, but, um, it is really hard to write a megahit doesn't come easy and it's it's not a for sure thing for anyone so it's yeah there's death there's a definite set of skills to that. I think that just real quick to go on this tangent I think the reason that people look down on it is because it's not meant for them so they don't understand what it's all about of your twenty five year old metal dude, you're not going to be listening to songs for thirteen year old girls, so it's going there's gonna be a fundamental clash between what you're into and what that song is about, so you kind of have to put yourself aside and understand what what it's intended for right within the confines of what it's intended for, which is, you know, soccer moms or thirteen year old girls or whatever our target market is within those confines megahits air excellently writing on die have you can't you can't just do that not that many people are good at it or teo I feel like teo appreciate good popular to hear really bad you know, like I was saying there's things that you can take away from all that that you could incorporate into you know, if it's not your thing there's still elements of that those styles of music um and they're still tricks and tips and good ideas in all that stuff, which is why I listened to all of it you know, um I don't we kind of went over this in the last class, but I don't listen to a ton of metal these days I've listened to metal like my whole life and so, um I'm not super impressed with a lot of them newer stuff um I feel like I'm kind of a bit of an old man when it comes to that stuff out on it I fully understand the young breathe um but now my attentions kind of in other types of music, but I let that I allow it to inform the way that I write metal music and it's not that it's infiltrating the sound and making it something that's not true our honest to me it's just helping expand kind of my tool belt when I approaches song yeah I feel like people who listen to only metal you can always tell um that said I wanted to play some musical examples that way thought up um a lot of these air from your band but this song uh hell don't need me I want to start with that because you're just talking about how uh ninety seven percent of demon hunter is within did once or a song structure but in this one the altar that song structure just a little bit just a little but I want to play a sea of people can pick up on that how how this structure goes from as you can see first pre chorus first chorus verse a pre chorus then chorus you don't buy the whole thing but some of it actually that is one of the song forms I just talked about that is number five a b a c yeah um that's essentially the only difference is taking that that taking the pre chorus um which exists where I usually put it in the second verse which is just second verse pre chorus chorus just taking that and in the first verse I throw it right in the middle of the verse so there's it's kind of sandwiched between two halfs of verse which is something I haven't done a lot in the past um and it's also something you might might not stand out to you if you're not really paying attention that's kind of just like sneaking it in there but it plays with the structure enough to like I said keep it interesting and did you originally have it as one long verse going into the court? Um no actually wrote it that way with the intention of having it do that and the trick there was I think it sounded just a cz good to me going just going from the pre chorus and falling right back into the verse as it did going into the chorus so I wanted a way to be able to show it doing both yeah so in the first verse I show it just dropping right back into the verse because I like the way that it it almost does build kind of attention in that it's it's almost like a breath of positive sounding chords in lines and melodies and then it drops back into kind of a more of a somber minor key sounding thing um it does that in the verse where when it actually goes from that into the course the second time it hits more of a triumphant thing when it goes into the court also with that pre chorus you think it's going to go to a chorus? So it's deceptive, righteous coolidge is interesting. It's a good it's a I think. Careful use of deception and song writing is another good attention. Oh, yeah. You think that, of course, is about to happen? And instead of that, um, it's back to the verse, which is, uh, you know, really cool s oh, so well, you call it one long verse or two verses. I would call it a verse with kind of a wedge in the middle like one someone version of, like, a pre chorus wedge dividing it. Fair enough. Um, let's, look at a few other ones. Um, and I know that this one's a pop trick, which is, and I've heard this one done a lot. Think it's one of the best moves you khun do, which is start each chorus a little differently. This is from one last song, and, uh, I have I have them all sync up, but you want to tell us what this is? Yeah. It's essentially, this is something that we decided to do in the studio after the song was written. The way it was written, I just had flu each chorus into the next spot and interesting in order to get the structure out it was the same every time on there you know just little things that you can do in the studio to keep it interesting and make the songs of maybe a little more technical is just finding ways to put slight variations on the parts that repeat throughout the song so in the first one there's a kind of a different combination of guitar um stops from the pre course to the chorus and the way that the drums interact with those things that sometimes it will be a big uh uh go straight and sometimes it's er det with a simple grab and there's like a little breath um and I think another one is is maybe to kind of two stops eso everyone is a little bit different and it's just the little one second part right before the course said not sound like a copy paste job yeah and it's so I think the other one is just a bear gap without any instrumentation where I just say one last so it's it's giving the vocals complete like getting out of the way of the vocals off altogether well let's see what they are you've got to get just stop one last comeback in that you want one love yeah there was no stop it all symbols just carried the guitars right through into the chorus and I think it's interesting to note that one sounds really powerful he's I think it's a smart idea to put it in the second court right here in the first there's a little bit of math and art form to that totally and here's the last one uh, you know, kind of like a coming to take a quick breath yes. Nomination the tio you used the chords with the space and that's ah that's actually something that we talked about in the last class a lot that worthy of mentioning that lots of times you can't think of what to do try to combine two parts and you might come up with something something pretty cool for the next one. Um let's go to another one of these examples real quick and, uh I want to talk about I will fail you and basically how the drums and the bridge and at the first rift but then they changed it's something else and basically it's another form of deceptive writing. Yeah, which is really cool is you then get a guitar solo right? Uh instead of a verse and let me just find that kick is the guitar from the very beginning of this way in the bridge case follows that pretty sly way to solo yeah it's essentially like we're saying it's a kind of a deceptive part because the kick leads you to believe that it's going to be that first thing again. And it is the same courts. It's, same exact cords, ahs the versace just put instead of just done, done, done, done, done, done. Anyone, it's. I don't know what time your show that is, but, um, yeah, it just kind of, uh, plays with your mind a little bit. Well, I think the main thing is that the cords air ringing and long in duration. Where is it in the first? They're chopping. It follows a lot of the same, uh, elements it's just the only difference is, is the the time signature of those mutes. Sometimes all you need is a tiny difference like that to define the difference between and it simplifies that part too. For the guitar solo. Allow it to kind of shine. It creates more of a constant yeah, like a bed for the solo. So I think that we should call it quits on this segment for now, before we go on to other stuff. Um, I see that we're about to run out of time anyways, so the next stuff that we're going to do we'll take longer than we have left some perfect of anyone, has any questions or anything. Yeah actually spending jackman's wondering ryan he was kind of noticing that the alterations to form came prior to lyrical content in your method there and that the vocals were pattern around the format is that kind of a standard that you go with or is it just depend on each song depends on the song will dive into this pretty heavily when we get into the lyrics and structure and melody um it all depends sometimes I'll have a few words um specific words that I want to incorporate into a melody that's pretty rare usually it's me filling words into a cadence or a particular melody depending on if it's a son or was screened part if it's just a scream part like in the verse it's all about cadence and rhythm it's done down that out down tio dot you know I basically map out like a rhythm like that fill in the syllables correctly are the way that I wanted to sound um if it's a melody um same thing most of the time it comes with a melody that's you know moving a certain way and I feel that in in a way that works with the words but there is a rare occasion where I get a couple of words or a couple of lines and I inject those into you know, one of the other all depends on what's potent, right? Yeah yeah whatever hits me first