New Metal Member
Jul 20, 2004
I got a question to all of you who write songs themselves and of course to mr. v . How are you going on in your songwriting process? what do you start with? Do you figure out the lyrics first and then write the music for it, is is it the other way around or are you doing both in the same time?
For my part i prefer to write the music first with some ideas about what the lyrics should be like in the back of my head.
i'm definately a music first kinda guy. First i start with what key i would like to write in, since each has a distinct sound, i pick the one that has the sound i'm going for. then i spend about 2 or 3 hours rehearsing the modes of that key. Once that is done, i start just fooling around in those modes until something comes out decent. If i want to use some more advanced chords, I will look at my chord book, and play with a few of them until thre is something i like. I don't touch lyrics though, i am horrible at writing them.
I'm almost ALWAYS lyrics-first. I'm better at writing words, and then composing music to reflect them. Of course, since I write lyrics with no music in mind, it is sometimes hard to write the music for it, but when I've got something, it's something I really like. For example, the other day I wrote a little two-line verse in Swedish (I'm not a Swedish-speaker) just for fun, and last night I came up with some music to it that I REALLY like. But I don't suppose that says anything.

I've got like two or three songs (maybe three and a half) I'm working on at the moment, all of which were lyrics-first. I like the music for all of them so far, and I doubt it's music I'd have thought of if I didn't already have words. Take the verses. One of the verses has a sad-creepy thing going on in the lyrics, so I wanted that in the music, too. I ended up writing this really strange clean guitar part of it which works great in the song. I don't think I'd have just played that, ordinarily, but I needed to reflect something in the lyrics.

On the other hand, what often happens is that I'll have several lyrics written (for different songs), and I'll just be playing guitar, not really trying to write a song, and I'll come up with a melody or riff that I like a lot, and I'll say, 'I've gotta use that.' So then I look at the lyrics that I have, and decide which of them is best fitted for whatever guitar thing I came up with. Usually I'll have something; others, I have to wait till later for the right kind of lyrics to come to me.

On the few occasions where I do write music first, then lyrics that sound good with it, the songs tend to be simpler; and in general, I don't like them as much. See, I put a lot of importance into lyrics, and often when I'm writing words to fit some music, they're not as good. So most times when I have some music but no words already, it becomes some sort of instrumental, or disconnected instrumental section.

Therefore, I'm a lyrics - music guy (or lyrics - music - musiclyrics, if you follow me).
My best work I think usually results from the lyrics being written first... but it can go either way, and I like to keep myself open in music development... I don't like to try and force myself to do things a certain way.

Sometimes a great riff can birth an entire song idea, lyrics and all... and other times, a line or two of text, with a basic idea on mood/atmosphere/direction, can develop into an epic. I also have a collection of "cool guitar ideas"... little pieces of guitar parts I record that I think are interesting ideas... and then I will often refer to this pool of ideas when trying to figure out what to do for the next section of a song, or what to do for a bridge, etc.

And exactly as Mantraschism said... sometimes I'll write music (usually pretty basic in structure), then put lyrics to it, and once I can understand the overall picture of the song, then the music gets revised and redefined under the lyrics. Usually the key will stay the same, and basic things like that, but it's hard to tell when to do some arpeggio run or some complex change until you can see how the lyrics will fit... where the lines and words end, what the emotion is, etc.

Wilted Sanity is a perfect example of this. The original version was very simple... but once I figured out where the lyrics fit and how to sing them, I was able to redefine the guitar parts to better fit the overall artistic vision. Not all the guitar stuff changed, but a lot of it did.

The next song I am working on now... the lyrics came first, then the song was developed around them, but then... the lyrics were refined and revised a little, as new creative ideas developed once I saw how the song was coming together.

I guess the message is... do whatever works for you... and keep all avenues of creativity open.
it depends... i usualy write lyrics first... 'cus i always go araound with ideas in my head and have to write them down at once, but i dont write music to fit specially to one lyric. they just i just go trough all i got and see what i like the best.

But i allso write all new lyrics after all the music is made... but for the most part i do the first
Writing lyrics and writing songs are completely different tasks to me. I do not associate them with each other until its time to put words to a song. Basically, I wan't lyrics to be genuine. I only start to write them when I have a strong idea or emotion in my head, and if it fades, I'll put them down and start again later.

As for writing songs, I make sure every other worry is out of my head 100%. Usually I take care of everything I need to do for the day, and then I'll settle down somewhere comfortable with my guitar and just come up with pieces of songs - one after another.
Storm of the Lights Bane said:
I think music is more important than words. I never bother with writing lyrics..always music first.

I agree with that..if you can't tell what the song is about by the music then the words are just pointless...
I believe that it depends on what kind of sound you would like it to develop to. And you inspiration. I mean, how many times we just come up with a whole song from out of nowhere?

When you work lyrics first, you generally (not always, oviously) have more control over moods and melodies. So you end up with a 'catchier' music. That's not a rule, of course. When you work over music first, you have more flexibility on tempos and harmonies, so the song end up kinda more straight-forward. It must be very hard to make a killer thrash/death song starting with a good lyric, not a good riff. But for some more melodic/atmospheric work, lyrics/melodies first can do really great.

I have been always very curious about mr. V's songwriting process. I see that he does must of it by himself, and it is very demanding (I know well how laborous it is to create many arrangements to all sort of instruments alone by using just a recorder and electronic drums as 'partners').

There are also many differences when you do it all alone or with other people involved. By yourself, you can make it all go exactly the way you want, so you have more soil to create and be original. With a band or partners it is way easier to work, but with the range of opinions, you end up many times with more powerful but less dynamic stuff.

Obviously, these are not 'rules', it just kinds of happen to me, at least.. I noticed it troughout the years as a songwriter.

If mr. V could kindly share his experiences with us we all would be appreciated.. :)
I've tried writing songs, and in my case the first thing I need is a couple lines, which then bring a vague sense of the rhythm and intonation that fit them, which frame the rest of the lyrics... so I have to say that score and lyrics can be done concurrently and build off one another.
I doubt any of my songs will see daylight since I can neither sing or play any instruments very well, and besides I never have them "finished" to my satisfaction in the first place. Still, I can try to provide seeds for anyone wanting ideas...
i choose the overall mood and theme of the song, then write the instrumental parts based off of those. after the music, i hum some notes to determine how the singing part will go. then i write the lyrics to fit the notes and then just go back and forth between the lyrics and music working on them until theyre just right.

but i dont usually write the lyrics, cause I suck with words.