The writing of music is something very intricate, intimate and personal that is why bands have always a leading composing force in all the formula. Now, you see, you can name any band you want and I can name you the one responsible for the style, creation and even the production of the music. Songwriting is a creative process, for me is like drawing a painting, you have a theme, an inspiration and then you draw what you see in your head, is pretty much the same with music, your brushes are your instruments, the canvas is the paper with the lyrics on, the composition is the arrangement and the colors is the notes and chords, the technique is the style. Now that you see it, it’s almost the same!
This example I gave you can be deceiving, but it leave clear one big message here, Co-op songwriting must be done with people who know well the elements and things implied with music and with songwriting, they must all have experience, doing this will proof your opinions and ideas, I mean, how in the hell you will say that this note or chord must be moved or replaced when you don’t even know what a chord actually is? Understand? The knowledge is important, it helps a lot that they are in the same style too. So, the other side of the coin is a extreme too, take for example bands like Genesis, Pink Floyd or The Beatles, they’re bands that have exceptional brains in the art of crafting songs, every single member is a master in songwriting, at the same time this can cause trouble and creative disagreements. These bands even broke up by this exact reason; however, they knew how to work together and what they did to music is now legendary.
This is how is done, and don’t even try to argue with me in this one because it is how it is. First of all, if you are a musician analyze and evaluate yourself, analyze your inner self and concrete how much you know about music, music theory, music elements, inner ear, sight reading, composition, harmony, expertise, I mean, all things related to music in general, it’s very important that even if you are considered a “master” in music, you have to know your weaknesses too, everyone have them. Now that you know where you are, say to yourself if you will be a composer or a player, then off you go! Recognize that some other musician can be better in some aspects, stick to him! There are musicians who focus on their instruments so well but doesn’t have that song crafting very polished and there are musicians that are geniuses in making music but don’t have that expertise on the instrument, so tell to yourself, where are you.
As a musician I have polished every necessary skill to make music and perform it so I can write things and be able to play what I write, but this is my case, your case could be different, just try to be prepared, train yourself in how to make songs and how to play well your instrument, it’s the best presentation card when you’re beginning to play in a band or introducing yourself to co-op songwriting or other musicians.
So, for example, you’re beginning to write a song with a musician friend, you just have to proof that you know how to do it, and have that musical knowledge that complete this task, it will be more difficult if your partner doesn’t know what you’re doing, and why.
In this case I will give you some guidelines to complete this task: First of all, you have to come with a open mind, make sure that the people that you’re sharing your music with is in the same level of knowledge and compromise, or at least try.
In bands situations:
A band is just a group of musicians who play music, jam and write together, but, what difference a band from an ensemble band its the music, the leading force in it and how cooperative the process of making the music is.
1- Members trade ideas, or record themselves jamming, and yes, a band have to have synergy in his play, that’s what makes them unique.
2- A lead member presents the music and the others just play it adding their touch with their instruments.
3- Members suitable in music harmony and overall music composition write together a song, from it arrangement to the whole instrumentation and share it to the others.
4- Members trade individual recorded demos, this one is very professional and implied lot of musical knowledge and expertise by the individual members who participate, doing this, they merge this demos and ideas in a complete song, each one have to have the proper gear for this task.
5- Have a clear sight in the member’s functions. In this case, you can assign a role or function to each member who participate in the band knowing what each member do best, for example the roles can be: Songwriter, arranger, producer, lyricist, visual artist, conceptualist, this depends a lot of the type of band and the type of musicians, obviously some roles can be merged into one person. Drummers came with the natural talent of creating rhythms, beats, and spontaneity but, it will be normal that they as drummers don’t know much about notes and music harmony, in this case they can be great arrangers, conceptualist, producers and even lyricists, take Rush’s Neil Peart for example. In other cases drummers can be exceptional and complete musicians and can play others instruments as well having the gift of composition, somebody like Dave Weckl or Gotye would be the case.
1. Economical help and cooperation.
2. Establishing different roles and divide the process of work.
3. Make it feel like a whole organization, like a business of some sort.
4. Jammings, Co-op songwriting.
5. Live performances easier.
6. Optimize process of production due to all members providing help.
1. Possible creative disagreements.
2. Defining a concept or style.
3. Establishing new ways or different paths.
4. Much more compromise.
5. Time is a factor.
6. Adapting is something mandatory.
7. Entering with a flexible and open mind.
Solo artist situation:
This is the other world in making music, going solo, many artists end up in this one, many of them start in a band and then goes off, depend a lot of their personal beliefs and life situations.
1. You write alone your own music, by inspiration, personal life events, etc.
2. As a musician you’re compromised only in yourself and assume all the roles necessary, songwriter, arranger, producer, lyricist, etc.
3. Have a clear sight in what you really love to do and write, and what your philosophies in life are.
4. You really have to enclose yourself in the process but you can if you want make somebody of trust to have the critic ear to your work.
5. Hermit things apply, it will be normal that you create music aside from social activities, recording in a room, writing, focusing, experimenting, concentrating on things in the process, the music is important to you, and it will be time consuming.
6. You as a whole know what you really want and have all the concept and visualization ready, you work in the pace you want to work and you do everything yourself, many artists think in this way, people like Frank Zappa, Steven Wilson, Steve Vai, just to name a few, this people create, direct, produce and conceptualize everything associated with their music.
7. You create music that is personal and is an extension to your heart and soul, but the music have to be recorded and even played live, so you have to gather some musicians to do the job, you can either record all yourself if you have the instrument expertise, if not, pay out sessions musicians or having cool musicians who love your work and have interest in play your music.
8. This is the most personal way of creating music, and the process can be more tedious and hard but the only one that knows that is you.
1. Complete freedom. There’s nobody by your side telling to do things, neither giving opinions nor discarding musical material that they don’t like.
2. Creative Freewill. You’re solo; you create the music alone having complete freedom in doing what you like to do.
3. You create music in a pace that you are confortable with, no hesitation from others.
4. Very personal and intimate. You really can freely evoke personal concepts and themes.
5. There’s no: “arrrg this idiot came with the stupid concept of doing a song about a homosexual horse that rapes squirrels, WTF??!!”
6. You write the way you want and the notes you want, no more adapting to the expertise of some bass or guitar player to play a particular section.
1. You assume a lot of roles making it difficult to maintain.
2. You lack of economical cooperation, making a lot more difficult to sustain a musical project.
3. You still have to look or pay musicians to record and/or play your music in a live environment.
4. You lack the feeling of support.
Now that you have all that information, you just know what to decide in terms of this topic, having a band is a whole experience and you as a musician have to embrace it, you can hook up with great musicians and learn things from them in every way, analyze your case, and remember that a band is like a serious business you all have to have the same goals and motivations, so it is a real deal in terms of compromise, having a band? Dictate all this points very clear to the others, make agreements and everything could work out.
In the case of going solo, is a total new and free adventure, that you must live one day, it’s just a matter of how you view music in terms of personal beliefs, it can be very confortable to you, it all depends.
You can be both if you are serious in all this stuff, you can have a well established and serious band and having your solo project working and running in the background, its all about how to prioritize things, divide you different musical interests in different musical projects or bands, want to play metal? Embrace a metal project. Want to play jazz? Create or join another project with this viewpoint and style, or why not? Maybe mix them together? Again, you’re the one who knows. Remember that the musicians in your band can have other musical projects so bear this in mind, never stick to something and compromise your nest full of eggs! I recommend being the independent as possible in terms of musical goals and expertise, remember, its up to you.