Song Exploder Podcast

Talk about how awesome the new _______ album is.

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Song Exploder Podcast

Postby ken » Wed Jan 15, 2014 9:28 am

Hey All,

Check out the Song Exploder Podcast. They have musicians talk about how they constructed their songs. The first episode is Jimmy Tamborello talking about a Postal Service song and episode two is the Album Leaf. They are rather short and cursory, but it is interesting to hear the individual elements of the track soloed and combined.

http://songexploder.net/

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Re: Song Exploder Podcast

Postby Lunkhead » Fri Jan 17, 2014 10:44 am

This is such a great idea. So far I've only listened to the first one. I have to say, frankly, that I was a little underwhelmed. It seemed to be a pretty superficial look into the making of that song, when I had hoped for a real deep dive. I'll check out the second one and see if it's any different, but I'm guessing the format is probably to keep them to only about 10-15 minutes, which doesn't seem like it will allow for too deep of a look into the songs.
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Re: Song Exploder Podcast

Postby Lunkhead » Fri Jan 17, 2014 11:15 am

Cool, the second episode was more satisfying, going into things in more detail.
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Re: Song Exploder Podcast

Postby jb » Fri Jan 17, 2014 3:24 pm

There's no replacing the old Pandora podcast.
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Re: Song Exploder Podcast

Postby Lunkhead » Fri Jan 17, 2014 3:55 pm

Yeah, those were pretty good. The cdza YouTube channel is somewhat similar in spirit and is pretty entertaining.
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Re: Song Exploder Podcast

Postby Niveous » Wed Aug 26, 2015 7:19 am

I finally got into this podcast and I absolutely love it.
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Re: Song Exploder Podcast

Postby fluffy » Fri Aug 28, 2015 12:20 pm

Yeah I only remember to listen to it on occasion but whenever I do I love it a lot.
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Re: Song Exploder Podcast

Postby ken » Mon Apr 25, 2016 10:14 am

This week's episode with Rivers Cuomo talking about writing a Weezer song is actually really interesting. Check it out!
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Re: Song Exploder Podcast

Postby jb » Mon Apr 25, 2016 10:35 am

It totally is. I meant to post it here too but you beat me to it! Very songfighty kind of writing style.

Oh hey I just discovered they post them on soundcloud, so here you all go:



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Re: Song Exploder Podcast

Postby josh » Mon Apr 25, 2016 11:06 am

I'll have to check it. I took a peek at the artist listings and it all seemed to be artists I don't know, artists I don't care for or artists I dig talking about their latest stuff and not their iconic works... but maybe it's entertaining anyway.
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Re: Song Exploder Podcast

Postby Niveous » Mon Apr 25, 2016 11:28 am

Wow, we're on the same wavelength as I just happened to listen to the Rivers Cuomo episode during my morning commute today. I was very surprised to how he puts together the lyrics to his songs. It makes me want to reevaluate all the Weezer songs I've ever heard.
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Re: Song Exploder Podcast

Postby jb » Mon Apr 25, 2016 11:30 am

josh wrote:it all seemed to be

artists I don't know,
artists I don't care for or
artists I dig talking about their latest stuff and not their iconic works...

but maybe it's entertaining anyway.


I can see the middle one being a reason not to tune in, but in no way shape or form do I accept that artists I don't know or artists I dig talking about their latest work is not interesting and informative-- which I take as your meaning rather than "entertaining". Unless you're actually looking for entertainment, in which case I can't relate to your approach to this subject.

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Re: Song Exploder Podcast

Postby iVeg » Mon Apr 25, 2016 12:59 pm

That was so cool. I think it's my favorite Song Exploder episode. The writing style is similar to Bowie's cut and paste method in concept: Semi-random lines arranged to tell a story. There were so many good ideas that I want to steal from this episode...
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Re: Song Exploder Podcast

Postby Chumpy » Mon Apr 25, 2016 9:36 pm

This podcast was very good, and chock full of good advice. Thanks Ken & jb! Here are my notes, which is what I consider the good stuff from the podcast:

Consider keeping a searchable list of:
    song titles
    interesting lines
    songs with cool chord progressions
Index titles and lines on on number syllables, strong/weak pattern of starting and ending syllables.
search example: 5 syllables that starts with an accented syllable

Generate interesting lines daily by spending 20-30 minutes of morning time engaging in stream of consciousness writing.
Come back a few days later and highlight the lines that seem interesting add those to the list of lines.

When writing a song:
Start with the chorus, no point in writing verses without a solid chorus.
Pick an interesting chord progression, play it in your style.
Arrange interesting lines from your list into something that suggests a story.
Scat a vocal melody, try it on the piano or guitar too, since your voice is lazy and might not find interesting melodies left to its own devices.
Sing your guitar solos, the restrictions on tone and breath make for less wanking and use of muscle memory, naturally adds 'space' due to breathing, and normal folks can sing your solos as a bonus. Raise pitch if necessary on your sung guitar solos to learn it on the guitar.

Key change modulations from verse to chorus are a thing that was lame in the 80s but still surprisingly useful for getting the most out of your vocal 'sweet spot'.
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Re: Song Exploder Podcast

Postby jb » Tue Apr 26, 2016 4:56 am

The morning stream of consciousness thing is from The Artist's Way: https://www.amazon.com/dp/1585421464/re ... hxb6TVRG1K

If you either don't mind or can get past the "spiritual" thing, it's good.

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Re: Song Exploder Podcast

Postby fluffy » Tue Apr 26, 2016 9:43 am

I always felt that key modulations between verse and chorus were fine, the problem of the 80s (and earlier) was the "truck driver gear change" where the modulation happened from chorus to chorus (or verse to verse) to build tension.
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Re: Song Exploder Podcast

Postby ken » Thu May 12, 2016 9:12 am

If you didn't get enough of Rivers Cuomo talking about himself, Weezer, music he likes, and his songwriting process, he was also interviewed on NPR's All Songs Considered. He covers some of the same ground, but it is a broader discussion: http://www.npr.org/sections/allsongs/20 ... vers-cuomo
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Re: Song Exploder Podcast

Postby MicahSommer » Sat May 14, 2016 3:13 pm

Wow, that Rivers Cuomo episode was fascinating. I was not familiar with this podcast but I know I will be listening to more.

The idea of improvising vocal parts on an instrument and instrumental parts on voice seems like a really good one to me and a great way to break out of a melodic rut.

His breakdown of his spreadsheet system for lyric writing, and his closing statements about not wanting to write songs that he understands, provide the clearest articulation I've heard of something I've noticed with a lot of indie music: treatment of lyrics as strings of images without the need for a unifying narrative, argument, or apparent theme. I don't have a problem with this approach as it can make for really effective songwriting and is used by a lot of musicians I really enjoy - but it is completely antithetical to how I approach my own music (which probably means I need to give it a try...).

fluffy wrote:I always felt that key modulations between verse and chorus were fine, the problem of the 80s (and earlier) was the "truck driver gear change" where the modulation happened from chorus to chorus (or verse to verse) to build tension.


I direct a church choir and MAN O MAN the number of choir anthems with completely formulaic modulations has nearly driven me insane. Like, "We need to include key changes to keep the congregation's interest and obscure the fact that we've been writing the same song for forty years":
-Verse 1 in unison
-Chorus in 4-part harmony
-Modulate up a half step
-Verse 2 in 2-part harmony or canon
-Chorus
Modulate up a whole step
-Repeat chorus, augment last phrase and end with sopranos on a high note.
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Re: Song Exploder Podcast

Postby iVeg » Sat May 14, 2016 5:01 pm

@Ken - Thanks for posting the NPR "All Songs Considered". I personally like writing songs about things I'm interested in, or a story. But then, Weezer has 15K fans per night and I have [limit x--> 0]

@Micah - Much of the problem is A A A A form songs. It's inherently stable [and boring?], so the variation has to be done some other way.
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Re: Song Exploder Podcast

Postby HeuristicsInc » Tue May 24, 2016 9:08 am

I checked out the one for POLIÇA since that was a band I like. It was very interesting.
I should probably check out some others.
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Re: Song Exploder Podcast

Postby glennny » Wed May 25, 2016 2:39 am

I'm a big fan of this podcast. I like all the episodes somewhat, but some are better than others.
My favorites are : The Long Winters, RAC, Iggy Pop, Magnetic Fields, Spoon, Death Cab for Cutie.

there are bands that I know and love, but that I didn't find very interesting: MGMT, U2, Bjork
there are bands I didn't know until after the podcast: RAC (though I realized later he's the Bloc Party remix guy) , the Long Winters

They're all so short. Now that I have listened to all 99 episodes of Mike and Tom eat Snacks, Song Exploder is my go to podcast.

Thanks Ken and Lunkhead for turning me on to it!
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Re: Song Exploder Podcast

Postby jb » Wed May 25, 2016 4:31 am

The along Winters one is great and that song in particular is amazing.

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