Lyric craft

Ask questions and get answers about how to make music in any particular way. Hardware or songwriting or whatever.
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Jim of Seattle
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Re: Lyric craft

Post by Jim of Seattle »

crumpart wrote:
Sat Nov 23, 2019 8:39 am
With your faces, I assume you're laying out a map of where everything goes before you start to add in any detail? Like a song, you need the basic structure there before you get too involved with all those little details. What I'd say is to look for all the big shapes, see how they relate to and interact with each other, and that's your structure. My other tip would be to photograph or scan your drawings then flip them so that they're mirrored. If they look super weird when you do that, something is wrong with the structure, because the picture should look balanced both ways. If they look good when you flip them, you've got the drawing right. Also, draw dogs when your daughter is not looking, because nobody should be denied the joy of drawing dogs. (Also, drawing dogs from life is one of the best things you can do, as it forces you to look, make decisions and draw quickly. The rule of life is that even if a dog has been lying still for hours, the minute you start to draw them they WILL move.)
Yes she's having me map out the face, create "shadow shapes", and start filling stuff in, gradually increasing the values. She also taught me the mirror technique. I'm coming along gradually. It's very apt in this discussion though, because at first I would do a drawing and think "Oh, that's good", and as I start working more on it I realize that what I thought was good had a long way to go still, I just didn't have the eyes to realize yet. Same when I page back to earlier drawings in the sketchbook. It feels like the earlier drawings are literally morphing over time, getting worse and worse when I'm not looking. Of course I'm just becoming more able to discern details that are wrong than I was able to at the time. Plus I hadn't been staring at it for hours. Anyway, what took me a month last spring takes me a week now.

Funny, the other day I was thinking I could use my art practice to concoct Song Fight album covers! That would give me a deadline and get me to practice. I guess that's what people who are relatively new to songwriting come here for... Hmmmm.... whereas for me songwriting isn't so much practice as it is using skills I've long ago learned justfor te sake of doing it. Which I suddenly realize is another reason I'm not submitting stuff. OK, gotta think about this album cover notion, especially since an entreaty was just posted about those.
Last edited by Jim of Seattle on Sat Nov 23, 2019 9:42 am, edited 1 time in total.
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AJOwens
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Re: Lyric craft

Post by AJOwens »

Jim of Seattle wrote:
Sat Nov 23, 2019 7:16 am
I probably wouldn't have even been satisfied with "and am able", because I would have thought "able to what?".
I used "able" in the (now possibly archaic or antiquated) sense of "capable," for example, not sick or otherwise incapacitated, and not prevented by some other obligation. Why do I like unorthodox phrasings? Probably because my parents were from Liverpool and said things like "Don't be daft" or "Look smart." Listening to them, I learned to love the economy and versatility of the English language. Or maybe just because I'm an obscurantist in so many ways. I like to have a layer or two, and odd expressions are a way of adding a layer of "indirection," where the meaning of the phrase lies behind an archaism. They're also a way of adding a cultural layer for its flavour.

Just as you didn't understand the way I used "try me," you didn't understand this usage. The problem in both cases, if I may be so bold, is that you found something outside of your expectations and experience to be obviously wrong and annoying, rather than new and curious.
Jim of Seattle wrote:
Sat Nov 23, 2019 7:16 am
I just keep telling myself "I'm the guy with the stupidly high standards, own it". . .
It's not that you have stupidly high standards. It's just that in the case of English prosody, if not lyric, they are not as broadly informed as they could be, yet this doesn't stop you from applying them with alarming vigour.
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Jim of Seattle
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Re: Lyric craft

Post by Jim of Seattle »

Ohhhh...... "able". I get it. Makes total sense when you say it that way. Huh, I wonder how many people heard it like I did, meaning "I've got the time and energy", I'm "able to do it", as opposed to what you meant, "not sick or otherwise incapacitated".

I've got no problem whatsoever with odd turns of phrase. I never said otherwise that I recall. Your "Try Me" doesn't set up that expectation though, and I don't think actually has any such odd turns anyway.

I'm reluctant to flare things up anew here, but I do think it's also the job of the lyricist to anticipate multiple, possibly unintended, interpretations of a line. But owing to your assertion about adding layers of indirection, I concede and completely agree.

Funny that we're tearing the lyric apart since it's actually really good, and it's already high level enough that we can talk about these aspects of it in the first place.
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Jim of Seattle
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Re: Lyric craft

Post by Jim of Seattle »

crumpart wrote:
Sat Nov 23, 2019 8:29 am
I do prefer poetry that adheres to strict structures over free verse, but with the songs I tend to take a looser approach to rhyme schemes, slant rhymes and so on, because I think it's more important that they play well with the tempo and emotional centre of the song as a whole. I do come up with my own rules in each song though. For instance, in Try Me, the chorus got four repeats of Try Me, but the repeating phrases in the verses got three to differentiate them from the chorus. I also used the second repeating phrase from each verse as the start of the next verse, so it goes Tell Me, Show You > Show Me, Take You > Take Me, at which point it's the last verse, so I deliberately changed the structure of the verse to indicate the end of the song (well, technically it goes Take Me, Play You, but I didn't repeat the Play You like I did with the others).
I do like that about that lyric, the two-word phrases repeated. I definitely hear Show you and Take you etc as reflections of the title. Since we're talking about it though, I would look again at what you think is a "verse" and a "chorus". To my ears they are so similar to each other that the song sounds like an AAAAAAA structure. Which I actually think could totally work if you chose to change some other things about the song. But I'm definitely not hearing a distinct verse and chorus.

It's so hard not to rewrite peoples' songs on here. It's hardest when I hear what the song is going for but doesn't achieve, because I'll think "Oh yeah! That's cool, I get what you're doing" and then it doesn't happen. The "Try Me" by Pink Halo in my head is wicked, man.

Or maybe it's not at all what the song was going for, but my imagination is stimulated and I'll start "Yeah! and"-ing.
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Re: Lyric craft

Post by Æpplês&vØdkã »

Jim of Seattle wrote:
Sat Nov 23, 2019 8:20 am
Btw I think your Phlebia songs, the two I've heard so far, are fairly bursting with unmet potential.
Yes, "unmet potential" is usually around the point where I end up having to stop. Lately I've been working crazy hours and I also have a one year old and a five year old, so I can never quite polish stuff to the degree that I'd like without sacrificing everything else in my life. I'd say probably my best entry thus far is "I used to know you better" if you wanna go back. Or don't, it's no biggie!
I'm afraid this one fails on pretty much every level for me. - Jim of Seattle

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Re: Lyric craft

Post by jb »

Just my $.02 on this topic, which is cool to see such thoughtful responses for. Anyway, at the risk of triggering more blah blah blah than I can handle....

There's a ratio when evaluating/criticizing art:

A. Choices you think were made on purpose and need to be interpreted rather than improved
B. Choices you think were made inexpertly and need to be improved rather than interpreted

It's important to recognize the difference between something that was done on purpose but doesn't appeal to us vs something that was trying to appeal to us and failed. It's usually encapsulated in a "genre bias" comment by a reviewer, but should extend to a more nuanced evaluation of lyrics.

In my opinion. Suggestions for lyric changes, if they're not approached in a way that acknowledges I know my way around, are likely to elicit a snarky response, in my head if not in writing.


JB
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Re: Lyric craft

Post by owl »

Just to quickly jump back to the topic of lyricism in hip-hop for a moment, I just thought I'd mention I spent several hours yesterday as I was prepping for a Friendsgiving dinner today listening to one of my recent favorites, CZARFACE, and it made me laugh out loud with delight at the lyrics several times despite having heard all these songs multiple times before--they're just so dense with amazing lines that I keep hearing new things that I'd missed every time. Highly recommend, if you're looking for something good to listen to. Very 90's, chock full of nerdy pop culture references... it's just so good.

I also watched a couple of episodes of Cardi B's rap reality show Rhythm and Flow, which I've been following on and off, and the show, while entertaining, is generally full of mediocre lyrics with just a few gems, but I thought the battle rap episode was great, with some amazing lines, to the point where I ran upstairs to try and get my husband to come down and watch it, but unfortunately he was asleep and not interested :( They made some quite cool music videos in the next episode, although the songs themselves were less up my alley due to hypermodern production and less focus on lyrics.
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fluffy
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Re: Lyric craft

Post by fluffy »

Jim of Seattle wrote:
Sat Nov 23, 2019 8:16 am
So my wife and I drove to Ikea last night to buy a glass cabinet ("Fabrikör"). It's sort of a drive (fluffy: Crown Hill to Kent on a Friday evening)
Surely not Renton?
My daughter is an artist and art teacher,
Oh wow, this daughter? Dang, time flies.
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Jim of Seattle
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Re: Lyric craft

Post by Jim of Seattle »

jb wrote:
Sat Nov 23, 2019 11:53 am
Just my $.02 on this topic, which is cool to see such thoughtful responses for. Anyway, at the risk of triggering more blah blah blah than I can handle....

There's a ratio when evaluating/criticizing art:

A. Choices you think were made on purpose and need to be interpreted rather than improved
B. Choices you think were made inexpertly and need to be improved rather than interpreted

It's important to recognize the difference between something that was done on purpose but doesn't appeal to us vs something that was trying to appeal to us and failed. It's usually encapsulated in a "genre bias" comment by a reviewer, but should extend to a more nuanced evaluation of lyrics.

In my opinion. Suggestions for lyric changes, if they're not approached in a way that acknowledges I know my way around, are likely to elicit a snarky response, in my head if not in writing.
JB
Well said, and I agree completely. But I would amend it that it's more like A and Z instead of A and B, since there's a great squishy continuum between what can be interpreted vs improved. Most things are somewhere in between.
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Jim of Seattle
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Re: Lyric craft

Post by Jim of Seattle »

fluffy wrote:
Sat Nov 23, 2019 1:30 pm
Jim of Seattle wrote:
Sat Nov 23, 2019 8:16 am
So my wife and I drove to Ikea last night to buy a glass cabinet ("Fabrikör"). It's sort of a drive (fluffy: Crown Hill to Kent on a Friday evening)
Surely not Renton?
My daughter is an artist and art teacher,
Oh wow, this daughter? Dang, time flies.
I thought it was more Kent, and that Renton was more east of Ikea. Kent Valley it's called after all. But yeah, Renton.

I'd more likely say this daughter

Image

Hmm, well I tried to upload some art of hers but it just says "image".
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Re: Lyric craft

Post by crumpart »

This seems like the appropriate place to share this.

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Re: Lyric craft

Post by sleepysilverdoor »

Ha, I always kind of liked that Smash Mouth lyric despite it's completely inaccurate understanding of what the ozone hole entails. Probably a lot of that comes from nostalgia for pool parties when I was in 3rd grade.As much time as he spends in the 90s, I'm amazed he didn't touch the complete lyrical mess that is Len's Steal My Sunshine. "I was frying on the bench slide at the park across the street, L A T E R that week, my sticky paws were into making straws out of big fat slurpee treats. An extra tribal lunar feat". Like...what?
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