Forums > Personal > Writing piano rock songs? (Question for song writers/performers)

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Jake
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Posted: 28 Jul 08, 11:46 Edit this post Reply to this post Reply with Quote

I've got a question for other song writers here... how do you write piano rock/pop songs? I mean, not love ballads or anything, but things like Don't Stop Me Now, or Warren Zevon's 'Werewolves Of London'???? I can't seem to write a song like that. I get no ideas really. When I write from a piano (which is too often), I end up writing a love ballad. So I end up writing from a guitar for any type of rock songs. Where do you get inspiration to write piano rock songs musically?????

And I know I can change it from guitar to piano, etc. But I just want to come out with ONE song written on a piano that's not a love song. Piano rock from the beginning!


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Posted: 28 Jul 08, 15:04 Edit this post Reply to this post Reply with Quote

test


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Posted: 28 Jul 08, 16:55 Edit this post Reply to this post Reply with Quote

I find it hard to write a piano rock song without help from another instrument. I usually start with a drum beat... however, my songs aren't that great, so maybe you should take someone else's advice!


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Posted: 28 Jul 08, 16:56 Edit this post Reply to this post Reply with Quote

Dan Corson VII: Season Is Over wrote:

I find it hard to write a piano rock song without help from another instrument. I usually start with a drum beat... however, my songs aren't that great, so maybe you should take someone else's advice!


I remember your songs, they are wonderful.


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Posted: 28 Jul 08, 17:25 Edit this post Reply to this post Reply with Quote

No one can help you here Jake.

This one has to come naturally, on its own.


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Posted: 28 Jul 08, 17:35 Edit this post Reply to this post Reply with Quote

wrote:

No one can help you here Jake.

This one has to come naturally, on its own.





true story.

music comes to you, and these are the songs that so happen to find you. if you try to go outside of it, it just doenst work. ive tried. there have been tons of instances where i say 'i wanna write a ska song' and fail miserably meanwhile a blues song comes to me, and i put my soul into it.


its whatever finds you. other than that i say listen to those kinda of songs for a long time and youll want to write one yourself. but youll find youll be doing something that has been done already.


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Posted: 28 Jul 08, 18:53 Edit this post Reply to this post Reply with Quote

Yes, it all comes down to you, but there are a few "templates" to get you started. I mean, what else is music theory but a template to guide you along?

A very basic piano rock riff is to pedal a chord with a bass note, such as in "Let It Be," or a million other basic piano rock songs. Then you can just throw in some drums and guitars (for instance, using power chords, muted or otherwise), and you have a basic song structure.

The thing about piano rock is that it doesn't have to be very technically involved, even if it sometimes is. As a guitarist, I look at a keyboard and immediately become confused - yet various piano rock formulas make a lot of sense to me, and I can even play many of them.

Edit: I usually take the opposite approach of Dan - I start with a basic piano riff, and then throw in the drums (I feel it's a great way to build up the song), as the piano sounds very sufficient by itself, as opposed to a distorted guitar, which rarely does. Try both approaches and see what works for you.


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Posted: 28 Jul 08, 23:21 Edit this post Reply to this post Reply with Quote

This is outside my writing style, since I tend to write odd things, such as experimental jazz-classical fusions (if that makes any sense). But, from what I gather and observe, I find that songs like Don't Stop Me Now are rythym driven. So, my advice would be this:

First, attain the inspiration -- no good song can write itself. This is the most important ingrediant, it really is only up to the composer. It can't be found, it finds you. Secondly, choose the appropriate chord progression (off the top of my head, I suppose I-IV-V would be an appropriate choice). Thirdly, come up with a snappy rythym and work off of that. Let the vocals, if you have them, carry the melody perhaps. That's just my two cents. Everybody has their own way of writing -- that would be mine. I haven't gone to school to learn to compose just yet -- that'll be in the fall.


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Posted: 29 Jul 08, 05:00 Edit this post Reply to this post Reply with Quote

You just sit there and it eventually comes to you.

Improvise around blues scales?


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Posted: 29 Jul 08, 10:30 Edit this post Reply to this post Reply with Quote

find you someone else to write the lyrics

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Posted: 29 Jul 08, 11:20 Edit this post Reply to this post Reply with Quote

Make a drum loop which suits the style and tempo you want to write a song in.

Then take a tape recorder to your piano and improvise.




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Posted: 29 Jul 08, 12:20 Edit this post Reply to this post Reply with Quote

wrote:

No one can help you here Jake.


Moved to Churning Out Hits Everytime forum.

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Posted: 30 Jul 08, 12:53 Edit this post Reply to this post Reply with Quote

I don't mean to steal Jake's thread or anything, but I've never attempted to write rock'n'roll piano songs, so I read the advices posted here and went to a MIDI editor (I don't have a piano, only guitars).

So I wrote the right-hand piano part using the piano keyboard from the MIDI editor, then, on a separate track, the left hand part. Then I saved it, and imported it on Guitar Pro 5, where I added drums, bass guitar and lead guitar. (I didn't "cheat" using the guitar fretboard from GP5 to edit the piano parts, I wrote them fully before sending them to GP, so that then I could use the fretboard only for the bass guitar and for the lead guitar, and also add things such as bends, vibrato, etc).

It isn't supposed to be a full song or anything, just a "sketch" to check if I'm on the right way. So, I just used a generic 12-bar blues chord progression (in 4/4 though) in A, and for the lead guitar, just some fills using the pentatonic minor scale, simple licks similar to what I like to play when I do blues/rock'n'roll jams with other guys (which I haven't done in ages, and I miss it!).

I exported it to WAV and then converted to mp3. I didn't want to export to MIDI because the bends, vibrato, etc would be gone. And sharing the Guitar Pro file would be pretty much useless, as I assume not many people here use that program.

The file is only 1.3mb:
http://www.mediafire.com/?h0m36nvxwa3

So, am I on the right way? Suggestions?

Thanks in advance!

And I apologise for the annoying MIDI sound.


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Posted: 31 Jul 08, 10:36 Edit this post Reply to this post Reply with Quote

Music Man wrote:

Yes, it all comes down to you, but there are a few "templates" to get you started. I mean, what else is music theory but a template to guide you along?

A very basic piano rock riff is to pedal a chord with a bass note, such as in "Let It Be," or a million other basic piano rock songs. Then you can just throw in some drums and guitars (for instance, using power chords, muted or otherwise), and you have a basic song structure.


You spell out one way, certainly, but you don't seem to fully realize its implications. The pedal-point you describe above will create a modal passage. Rock songs lend themselves very well to modal treatment, as the rock-style is itself largely folk and blues-derived*, in which modal music long survived. A song can then be extended by solos and/or melodies for vocals in a modal style over chordal vamps, the first of which you wrote by Music Man's suggestion. You can use one or more of the modes of your regular major (or melodic minor) scale.

*(want to hear what the Blues originally sounded like? Find Leadbelly recordings, and that's pretty much it. He's the oldest blues musician we know of who has recorded, and even though his recordings themselves are of later date, they reflect early country blues, closely resembling white folk music, but with that blue touch of major/minor combinations).

The thing about piano rock is that it doesn't have to be very technically involved, even if it sometimes is.


Give this man a beer! That goes for most of music. Complexity usually arises by interplay between different instruments, rarely, except in solos, through insanely complex single parts. And remember: if you invented it, it'll *probably* be much more complex to anyone else than it seems to you.

As a guitarist, I look at a keyboard and immediately become confused - yet various piano rock formulas make a lot of sense to me, and I can even play many of them.


Rock doesn't essentially work differently for piano or guitar, as they both usually perform rhythm section work with occasional melody section interludes (sometimes more prominent in certain styles of rock). Rhythm section playing is never too fancy, and riffs around diatonic mutations of your chord (extensions, diminutions, suspensions and melodic alteration) work good for me.

Edit: I usually take the opposite approach of Dan - I start with a basic piano riff, and then throw in the drums (I feel it's a great way to build up the song), as the piano sounds very sufficient by itself, as opposed to a distorted guitar, which rarely does. Try both approaches and see what works for you.


Everyone likes to work differently. So long as you keep rhythm and melody in an ubpeat interchange, and spread them over several instruments, you'll get rock if you get the rhythm right, basically.


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Posted: 31 Jul 08, 10:37 Edit this post Reply to this post Reply with Quote

Steven wrote:

This is outside my writing style, since I tend to write odd things, such as experimental jazz-classical fusions (if that makes any sense). But, from what I gather and observe, I find that songs like Don't Stop Me Now are rythym driven. So, my advice would be this:

First, attain the inspiration -- no good song can write itself. This is the most important ingrediant, it really is only up to the composer. It can't be found, it finds you. Secondly, choose the appropriate chord progression (off the top of my head, I suppose I-IV-V would be an appropriate choice). Thirdly, come up with a snappy rythym and work off of that. Let the vocals, if you have them, carry the melody perhaps. That's just my two cents. Everybody has their own way of writing -- that would be mine. I haven't gone to school to learn to compose just yet -- that'll be in the fall.


Don't use I-IV-V unless your melody requires it! It's a dull progression with little interest, because it consists of the bare harmonic minimum. Try to use extensions and inversions at the very least, and chord substitution if you can (and it's really not that difficult).


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Posted: 31 Jul 08, 10:56 Edit this post Reply to this post Reply with Quote

I thought that the use of extensions, inversions, and chord substitutions went without saying. The chord progression I suggested was just a starting place. I will admit that the chord progression, by itself, is quite dull -- it's been used too often.


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Posted: 31 Jul 08, 11:04 Edit this post Reply to this post Reply with Quote

Steven wrote:

I thought the use of extensions, inversions, and chord substitutions went without saying. Whenever I write I like to start with a basic chord progression, but then go off and do whatever the hell that pleases the ear.


They never go without saying, as they form the fundamentals of your harmony! You can't use dominant seventh like a regular major, nor a major seventh like a regular major, and a six-four inverted chord is different from one in ground position. Inversions and extensions create the fundamentals for your melody, and the intervals between the different notes of the chord, because they vary with inversions, result in different harmonies requiring different treatment in orchestration, as well as more possibilities in further composition (you can see a Cmin7 like an Ebadd6, you know), and good voice leading is absolutely vital to effectively modulating, which you will want to use sooner or later. In short, inversions and extensions make up a significant part of harmony, and dominate all aspects of your song except MAYBE rhythm.


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Posted: 31 Jul 08, 11:07 Edit this post Reply to this post Reply with Quote

I updated my post while you were writing. I'm not going to argue with you, since you obviously know what you're talking about (and I can't help but agree with you). I'm a self-taught composer who has much to learn. And thankfully, I was just accepted into a great music program and will start majoring in Music Education in the fall. Thanks for your input, ThomasQuinn -- it is appreciated.


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Posted: 31 Jul 08, 11:41 Edit this post Reply to this post Reply with Quote

Always glad to share anything about one of the few topics I actually know something about ^^


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Posted: 31 Jul 08, 11:50 Edit this post Reply to this post Reply with Quote

XD oi, music theory hurts me head XD


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