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Hi all. Just thought I'd throw this out there.

How do you go about your songwriting? Do you fire up Logic and play a few chords to get you started, do you have a basic idea before you even start, a verse, a riff etc?

It may be about generations because like a lot of people my age technology is quite frightening. I started off back in the 70's with a Portastudio and a cassette, that was it. But nowadays what is on offer (particularly in Logic) is astonishing when you think about it. Loops and plugins and drum machines and so on, absolutely wonderful, but does all this gear hamper your creativity or compliment it? For example, because this is all relatively new to me, if I learn some cool trick that Logic can do I feel duty bound to include it in my next song, whether it needs it or not. 

 

As I say, just throwing this out there for the sake of discussion, really.

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Honestly, I'd say that you just need to ... write songs.  No matter how you choose to do it, and never-mind "the technology of the day, awesome though it now is."  Technology might make a particular song possible, or at least somewhat easier to do, but it never makes the song.  Nothing technical can ever do that.

Lots of songs probably begin with very simple ideas – what's sometimes called a "motif" or "motive." ("Dah-dah-dah-dah!!" – Beethoven's Fifth.)  Coldplay's recent hit, "Clocks," for example, was based on a drop-dead-simple right-hand riff and a simple descending three-note sequence of anchor notes.  But of course, the actual song developed from what the composer then did with that idea.  The novel idea gave him (or her) something solid to work from, but it all would have come to nothing without the work.

All of the stuff that Logic – or any other DAW – gives you are actually tools.  Today, you have an amazing toolbox.  Which not too many years ago artists paid hundreds of thousands of dollars for, while actually receiving much less. But, "a toolbox can never build a house for you."  Remember that, and just keep writing.

Also: One thing that I've consistently seen about "the creative process" is that there is never any actual point where "the harp plays and the angels sing and 'there it is!'"  That simply does not happen.  Do not look for affirmation.

"Creativity is not deterministic."  You make choices every step of the way.  But the listener who finally regards the completed song – or novel, or painting or sculpture or whatever it may be – encounters none of that "process." ("Michelangelo's David, but without the marble chips or the polishing cloths ...) Which is why, to them, "it seems like magic."  Only we creators know that it is not – but, should we actually tell them? 😀 Do they really want to know?

Edited by MikeRobinson
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4 hours ago, Little Fat Bloke said:

Hi all. Just thought I'd throw this out there.

How do you go about your songwriting? Do you fire up Logic and play a few chords to get you started, do you have a basic idea before you even start, a verse, a riff etc?

It may be about generations because like a lot of people my age technology is quite frightening. I started off back in the 70's with a Portastudio and a cassette, that was it. But nowadays what is on offer (particularly in Logic) is astonishing when you think about it. Loops and plugins and drum machines and so on, absolutely wonderful, but does all this gear hamper your creativity or compliment it? For example, because this is all relatively new to me, if I learn some cool trick that Logic can do I feel duty bound to include it in my next song, whether it needs it or not. 

As I say, just throwing this out there for the sake of discussion, really.

I still like to think of myself as an old-school songwriter. I sit down with a guitar and sing into my iPhone, with the television on in the background, John Lennon stylee. Truth is, that part of my process is the "quick bit" now. As soon as I have something that feels like a decent verse or chorus, I head into my studio and move to Logic. A key for me is Logic's Drummer. Having an instant groove makes anything I'm starting with feel "real." Once I've recorded a scratch verse or chorus, guitar and vocal through the same mic on a single track, I'll start recording the next section on another track. Being able to cut/paste things quickly is great, and it makes songs happen fast. I'll go back, record a better guitar track, with no vocal, on a new track, then do the same with a clean vocal, whether I have lyrics or not. Within 30 minutes there's enough of something song-like that I can bounce down and stick back on my phone. I can listen casually to the track there, washing dishes or whatever, while keeping an eye out for lyrics or whether it needs a bridge etc. 

I do play within Logic sometimes in different ways - to generate different kinds of results. Starting with a groove or a drone, sampling a vocal into shape from various other songs - and I love seeing music come out of processes like this that sound different from what I normally do, but I'll always remain a "verse/chorus" traditionalist, I reckon, no matter how many computers I own! 

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You and me both, mate. 

Sitting with an acoustic guitar and recording everything into my iPhone is also my preferred way of working.

I can just stare vacantly at whatever is on the TV, not paying attention, in a world of my own, just strumming and picking, and then the seed of an idea takes root.

 

It has to be said, buying Logic is one of the best things I've ever done.

 

 

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And yet, I very well remember when wealthy musical artists willingly spent more than $100,000 for custom-built Fairlights and Synclaviers which could not even dream of doing anything remotely like this . . . The technology very-simply wasn't there yet. It didn't exist.

I simply renewed my subscription to "[Contemporary] Keyboard Magazine," and continued to (I thought, "hopelessly ...") dream.

But, as I like to re-remind myself every now and then, "the technology actually isn't 'the point.'"  The thing that, in the end, actually makes the difference is ... you.

Edited by MikeRobinson
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7 hours ago, MikeRobinson said:

And yet, I very well remember when wealthy musical artists willingly spent more than $100,000 for custom-built Fairlights and Synclaviers which could not even dream of doing anything remotely like this . . . The technology very-simply wasn't there yet. It didn't exist.

I simply renewed my subscription to "[Contemporary] Keyboard Magazine," and continued to (I thought, "hopelessly ...") dream.

But, as I like to re-remind myself every now and then, "the technology actually isn't 'the point.'"  The thing that, in the end, actually makes the difference is ... you.

Whether it's Kate Bush doing unprecedented and stunning work with a Fairlight, or if it's a thousand of us tweaking Logic to our heart's content, there's certainly something to be said for embracing technology when it serves to inspire and thrill us creatively... and yet while Kraftwerk played with the image that it *was* the tech that was the point, they were just a bunch of melodically gifted Beach Boys fans who couldn't help write great songs! 

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