Songwriting: Building, Redefining and Contradicting
So what I found is basically from section eight a section being in any song I want I've established one riff have established a key center, which is a and I've established that that's kind of ah, whatever this this is the norms, and I have to contradict this in some way for the second section, which is what I do in every song is either build on it, bring in more instruments, redefine it or contradicted in some way, so I want to rhythmically contradict that. So I found another, um, drumbeat that sounds different. I just grabbed us because it had snares and weird places, and this is another just total preset. Normally what I'll do is, after all this stuff, I'll go in and I'll move the kicks around, I'll move the snare around, we'll have programmed different kinds of phil's and stuff like that, and that first beat I had the same feel happened on the end of the two bars, I don't care about that right now later on, I'll fix that this could be generic right now because when writing music or ...
writing scripts or writing anything. The most important thing you can do is keep on writing so if you've got a cool section like say like, say, like, now we start I'm kind of like getting a little bit more personality may since I changed the thirds around is not just power courts, so now I've got to figure out what's, right? I don't know what to write, so they say when you don't know what to write, write something so at least, you know what? Not to write and that's like a screenwriting thing, so if you even if it sucks section b, I've got this, so check this out, here's here is the b section drums so that's so I'm gonna loop that four times and I'm going to try to find something a player that it doesn't sound doesn't have as many double kicks it's a little little bit looser sounding and it's got a little more ghost notes with a snare, and so what I'm gonna do is I'm in a way that I gotta g I mean d and a major, so I'm gonna go back to the game liner another a chord with the third in the booth, and I like that sound from a major something to make that the riff, so I'm gonna kind of do something that doesn't sound it's open, I'm probably a little more muting and I'm going to show you just a b section maybe it's going to suck maybes and be cool who knows um but I have a two bar intro and I'm going to play something on top of it for four times and I'm to come back to if it sucks so who cares no one's going to know so for you guys but what are you going to do, what you need to alert the media so that's what I got so that's a section b I don't have this thing even it was recording right there there's the proof so that's what I just did I did that I may be peaking a little bit it doesn't matter because this is just a demo so the next section I have this is the third section so I've got two sections I've got that this one have just major to minor minor to major on the thing that's gonna make that exciting is either me finding a cooler way to play that me doing something cool of the base or me having a really cool melody on that that's memorable and and piques our interest so I'll get into the melodies later on which is part of my process to is to come up with the melody um so I'm going to go into the next part of the thing which I found a different just another thing again these air total presets from mostly from jean haugland that I have dragged down and and are putting in straight into the timeline so this is the next piece of trump so that's that's the loop so I'm going to see if I could do something with that, so I did that four times and I've got an idea just to make just to make the next part interesting I'm going to try tio move some chords around a little bit so I was going back and forth between two chords and with it key senators and I'm gonna move it around a little bit. I'm going to change my key center I'm gonna probably go I'm gonna go to the fourth, which is eats although the minor I wasn't major someone just place um course um standard cords so many minor with seven seven fourth results in c then wait for the sports before what I haven't done so now. So that's that's another thing when writing a song each new section how do you change up the harmonic rhythm? The harmonic rhythm is the speed of the courts, so I had to cords going back and forth now got four chords so that's going to make us interested in the music, it's just kind of what happens, so so I'm gonna play that I'll try to do some world like a muted aarp educated pattern that's going to be probably not perfect, but we'll get the idea. So let me just record the next part of the song. Isn't this fun? Guys, I blew it. Here we go. Ready? Starting again. Command z, right? And I'm saying, yeah, all right, so that's section three and I'm gonna record the very next section, which is basically I'm gonna go right back to the top and just play that out. So here goes that and then and then we're gonna go into some melodies, and then we're going to be we're going to e, so I've got, like, a two minute and forty second song here, so what I'm gonna do is I'm gonna put some melodies on top of this thing, and, um, we're gonna listen to that. So if I started here, so what I'll usually dio is I've got another delay here that mesereau turned lay down just a little bit way. So what I usually do is I'll loop something, and this is how I work on sections with by myself or when I later on. As you see the whole process, when I sit with jean hoagland in the studio with, you know, an actual real drummer ah, loop sections, or I'll have the drummer or any anybody that's in a band will they'll just go over a section over and over until they find something that starts making their ears excited so I had an idea for a melody here, let me just play an input only mood and see if I could just kind of that's kind of a cool idea, so I'm just gonna play it at the top and I'm going to go over it a few times and then I'll have it there just so I don't forget it and that's the most important part about this process is that I didn't play everything perfectly my guitars mostly in tune and the most important ideas is that pro tools at this point is not from for me a mixing thing it is not really a big recording thing right now is a is a notebook for me to record my ideas so that's how I treated right now as a notebook and it doesn't have to be more on this basically I need to spend I want to get a song idea done an hour or less than an hour and then come back to it later on and I'll tell you about that next step here we get so go from the top so maybe I won't play the first with great music the next section so for the next section again, how do I contradict that rhythm and do something that simple? I mean I don't know what that melody is going to be enough it's gonna be like an instrumental guitarist long or I'm gonna sing over that stuff but I want to have an idea of what a melody just to make this song a little bit more personal just to give it a little bit more life put a melting on top of it maybe that'll be a background melody and maybe they'll be vocals and like death metal vote voice or something like that I don't know but I'd like to have melody and normally with death clock stuff when writing death clock music there's no melody in the vocal it's it's almost like wrapping it's almost like a guttural bark and I like music with melody and that's what I listen I grew up listening to yellow and you know david bowie and the beatles and stuff like that so I want melody really badly and music so I try to sneak it in with guitar melodies all the time so that's another part that makes hopefully we'll make this a little bit more personal so wait try something I'm gonna try to do something and just repeat it if I like it I repeated so here's the next part was the spotlight things keep on doing that's just another part that's another idea so that's something that sounds different the first one I have a little more you can even see in the way form there down around here that they're a little bit more breaks and it just looks different in the previous way sometimes that's an important way to write music how does that look different from the previous section so there is that now going to go into the final section and then we're going to talk about this stuff and take questions or whatever and talk about the next step of the process um so let me get into this next one so I had that so from minor to major so mixed from a from a door into a to a major like a minor third to the suspended forthe and so the next part is that you might think so you know I like sometimes and this is something that paul mccartney does is he just goes up a scale he just goes up a scale and leaves it there and that always sounds good and you could do that would basically that the melody but I'm gonna try that with this settlement have this next part just be since I had a little bit more stops a little bit more syncopated stuff in the last one on this and a go llegado on this part so here we go from staccato to llegado let's see what this sounds like so there you go so I'm gonna put my guitar down because I think I've got enough ideas to to satisfy myself now let's listen to the whole thing one time and maybe I'll talk about a little bit I can turn this down in here and talk over it so my master I'll turn on the master william here but this is the idea so turn off my pre rules like you just start from here to have my click is that so as you can see I didn't really label too much you know I'm going to do before I move on from this whole idea is I think I think normally I don't do this but I saw that there's a base over there so maybe I'll use this base and I will plug in to this thing and just try to get a good bass sound and uh unless we do we have anything pre set up for base watch is basically I want to clean based on or maybe I'll get a dirt maybe I'll plug into the same distorted thing and sometimes we'll use that to but I'm going to get a I had a base idea here I'm on record over it so so I'll show you don't have to go into basically to go into how puts the this thing nineteen a comp its line what do I go when I go from what was the output for the guitar guitar l that's what I need yes I fixed it I'm a genius the fact that I learned that I could do that right now is really impressive to myself well, thank you have eyes you know have a base now so ok cool so I'm gonna record and put this thing and I'm going to try to do uh I'm gonna do something that I do often with base which is something we're gonna talk about later on I'm not gonna mess with that whatever I played into that's what I'm gonna record with because I don't have time to screw around and I'm saying so I'm not even use this thing but let's just talk about the first group of course and this is going to get all the recording technique on the technical stuff because we've got a lot of time to feel so don't worry about that this is just about again how a bill becomes a law I have to have an idea first or we don't have anything you need a guy like me to come up with the idea first all right won't it what do you do? You sit around doing nothing for that musicians I have no job, he has no job, he needs me to do this so you've got to watch this process first and so someone turn this up a little bit so I can hear a little bit later in the mix I turn my thing back up a little bit here so just just for a second so check this out I'm going to do something that is really important I think in music but not everybody does it but it's about the bass note just like how I messed around with those cords at the top instead of checking them from power cords to first inversion courts which are you know, putting the third I'm going since I since I have the third in the route on the guitar I can play the root here and it'll sound cool it'll sound a little bit better and there that's good um and then I'm going to mess around I'm established the route movement on the base and then I'm going to change it after a couple and then you'll hear that the song feels like the chords or different all of a sudden so I will go from so go from and on the third and then maybe the third time through I'm going tio I'm going to alter it so I'm gonna improvise through and we'll see what happens get rid of this here and I'm just going to start right there everything else should be working so here we go based on a track to record label welcome to how I do this every day it really is like obviously but I'm doing it that's the important part okay theo other thing I forgot to do was to turn my click back on here you get ready room really important part about music is being in tune with yourself and normally I have my iphone and I will tune in to this I am a few cents off here so I'm even sharper sometimes with base oh yes you know sharp like crazy sometimes with base um I will to get something done very quickly I want to and all the strings I was just in the first two in this case I will tune because I may want to use this story string ah ah it's going to sound a lot better trust me you make it a practice toe like eliminate anything that stops your creative process that is very like you want to just keep being creative anything that gets in the way of that from a technical standpoint, you either ignore or yes it's just all about the ideas totally and you add to that I mean, this is like this is that I would this is an unusable base um if you look here on the on there that's that's, that's way too much signal I don't care right now I wouldn't use that for my final, but I don't care right now because I just wanna get the idea the other thing I think and this is the this is one of the reasons I've made so many records and the amount of time that I've made them is because I eliminate options it's almost like um it's sze like large country air the filmmaker who did ah hoo ah breaking the waves and tons of different movies but he he basically he did it he did this thing called dogma ninety five where he eliminated options he said if you want to film I'm going to invent a style and in order to film in this style you have to only film ad it in camera on ly use natural existing lighting and and that's it pretty much and take the lens cap off there are probably a few other things but for my thing I wantto set I want keep this sound on I want to keep this base here for death clock I'm in the key of c constantly pretty much cause that's the lowest note if I'm tuned in to see standard which is what I'm usually turn down to and I have like some violent patches that I can use like to teo help with accentuates and melodies and make things sound bigger and usually I will just use my cork keyboard set up to a violin I don't go into later on I've changed and I've gone into like the contact stuff but but normally in demo stage I don't care it khun sound and and then I later on I found out some of my favorite things some of my favorite metal recordings or not metal recordings they used whatever was plugged in at the time so this will help you be creative, make sure there's nothing in your way just to have a clean path from your gets har or your vocal mike or whatever it is to this thing um, I guess you do after tune because it will sound horrible otherwise and I think I am into s oh yeah, that is that that's a good point? You don't want anything in your way you want you want like I said before, just to reiterate them you want this stuff already set up so you can walk in the room, you don't have any excuses because we will find a thousand excuses to get up out of this chair. We've had so much coffee, we're going to go insane, we need to run around the room three or four times you can't leave until you finish the same with script writing, I have to make sure I have a comfortable environment from writing scripts for tv and all that stuff too. I know how I am, I know I am with excuses, I will make them it's like a young frankenstein or he says, listen, I'm gonna go in there with the monster I'm going to scream, I'm gonna beg him to do anything to make you let let me out to unlock this door, don't let me out no matter what happens I'm gonna I'm gonna do everything every trick in the book to get out of this room but I have to go and make peace with the monster and of course he goes in there and he's just let me out because he thinks he's going to get killed in terry guards like no you told me that actually because I was kidding they start insulting her and it's but that's that's pretty much what we're doing right here we're trapped in the room with the frankenstein monster and we cannot let ourselves that we have to also be terry guard okay, here we go here's the base thing I'm gonna use this ah route movement thing and hopefully this time is gonna work click works that's good here we go so so I did a couple different things some of them sounded good something didn't sound wonderful but I'm believing there for now so the next section is uh again we changed the rhythm something e I think I need to take more time to still a little off my days okay? So I'm gonna play on the a string on this thing just because I know my gaze into and I don't know about my eat so here we go keep doing the same thing I'm gonna fix that last I mean blue plenty of things there I mean plenty of terrible choices um but I'm going to do the last little bar where fades out to nothing really quickly because I screwed that up so that's my song now I've got a base in there it's not perfect there's that other note you heard that I screwed up earlier but I've got a song I've got something to work with and that's what you need to have you need to have a rough draft of a script or of anything that you could I'm gonna turn this volume down um can I give this to someone really quickly we're safe thank you eric um but that's that's what he's like he's like you heard that may not be that special or maybe you think that's a cool rock tune in there somewhere um but um some parts are boring some parts are exciting you know what? I'm a dio um there's something I would do later on I would I would take that first riff I'd see if I could make that into a single line we have to instead of just those chords do something like a here maybe in a different version or if I want to elongate the song I would do the variations of the theme but you need a theme first have variations from so get back into input move first like a term that could be a rift that could be something I could do later on if I want to um and on the second son that's, just straight, picking through and just accenting certain parts. But I go e can change the tempo if I want to. I want to make a little bit faster if I feel like it, grooves at a different speed, and sometimes I do feel that, and sometimes I do change tempos later on, but I can make things a little bit more stylized, little bit more syncopated. But first, I just need to have something that excites me personally and is harmonically interesting and melodically interesting. Otherwise, you've got a generic thing, the anybody that you can hear a guitar center by anybody on any saturday afternoon by a fifty eight year old man drooling over flying b. You want to be that? Sorry?
Ulrich Wild is a Grammy-nominated producer, mixer, engineer and songwriter specializing in Rock and Metal. Born and raised in Switzerland, he immigrated to the USA where he now lives as a naturalized citizen in Los Angeles. He has worked with
Brendon Small is best known as the co-creator of the 1999 animated series Home Movies (along with Loren Bouchard) and Metalocalypse (along with Tommy Blacha) and as the creator of the virtual death metal band Dethklok.
I love Brendon. He has always treated fans super well. There's so much wisdom to be gained from listening to him about workflow and music in general.
Being someone new and looking into recording songs, I found this class very informative and in a way essential, the idea of recording seemed over whelming and I had no idea where to start, being a fan of Brendon small and Ulrich Wilds work on Dethklok and Galaktikon I found it very enjoyable and must for any fans of Brendon small looking into how he goes about making a record