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Folk & Country Melodies

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(@blackadder89)
Eminent Member
Joined: 17 years ago
Posts: 12
Topic starter  

Hey there.

I don't often visit these forums, but whenever I have they've been really helpful in informing me, hopefully nothing's changed :P

Basically, I started trying to write my own songs, was able to come up with words ok, and managed to get a couple of pretty good folk/country sounding melodies. Here's the problem though; I seemed to come up with the melodies almost by chance, just by strumming the chords and changing the progressions, timing etc. and humming different notes...The only problem I've noted now is that I seem to come up with fairly similar stuff every time I do it.

To get to the point:
I was interested in learning about the different methods in coming up with melodies. I'm only really interested in folk (alla early Dylan) and country (alla Hank Williams) at the moment, so if you could veer any advice towards those genres, that would be awesome. It would also be great if you could describe any easier ways to adapt an exsisting melody, if such methods exsist.

Also, just out of interest, do you any of you happen to know (Not really sure how you'd obtain this information, but it's worth a try) how the likes of Dylan would have come up with his melodies? Something worth knowing...

Anyway, thanks in advance for any help,
Michael


   
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(@scrybe)
Famed Member
Joined: 16 years ago
Posts: 2241
 

I'll try to post more later (Just woken up, lol). But Dylan 'stole' a lot of his melodies from traditional folk songs. I'm a big fan of him too, but apparently this is well documented. One critic I read also said throughout his career, Dylan basically stuck to either blues form or ballad form.

Ra Er Ga.

Ninjazz have SuperChops.

http://www.blipfoto.com/Scrybe


   
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(@blackadder89)
Eminent Member
Joined: 17 years ago
Posts: 12
Topic starter  

Your post has given birth to a new question:

What is "blues form" and "ballad form"?


   
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(@scrybe)
Famed Member
Joined: 16 years ago
Posts: 2241
 

the most prominent 'blues form' is a 16 bar progression:

|E|E|E|E|
|A|A|E|E
|B|A|E|B

(in the key of E)

featuring three line stanzas, usually with an A-A-B form (although all lines can rhyme), like

woke up this morning, fell out of bed
woke up this morning, fell out of bed
seeing stars in daytime cos I landed on my head

you can also get, e.g. 8 bar blues, and other chord progressions. I'd say the key element is the turnaround (the |B|A|E|B| bit in the e.g. given above), but players like John Lee Hooker have been known to 'forget' this.

Dylan songs in a blues form include Leopard Skin Pillbox Hat, Black Crow Blues, Tombstone Blues, Subterranean Homesick Blues, Mixed Up Confusion, Maggie's Farm, Highway 61 Revisited.

'Ballad form' isn't something I know much about, so I'll leave that to someone else to answer. I generally thought it meant slow with fairly long verses, sometimes with repeated lines or a short chorus at the end of each verse. Something like Visions of Johanna or Simple Twist of Fate or Sad Eyed Lady of the Lowlands.

I'll also have a think about which Dylan songs have been referred to as using pre-existing folk melodies and post that later if I come up with anything. Trying to think of the folk tunes he supposedly 'stole' from so you can compare them.

Oh, and this is lyric-wise not melody-wise, but around the mid-sixties Dylan would often get a whole bunch of different pictures, record/book covers/postcards/etc and lay them out on the floor, then use them (e.g. linking two pictures) as 'triggers' for his lyrics. I don't think much has been written about how he crafted melodies besides the stuff that mentioned earlier folk tunes as his 'inspiration.' Listening to his stuff, I wouldn't be surprised if he often came up with a substantial amount of the words before sitting down at a piano or with a guitar and putting music to it.

hope this helps

Ra Er Ga.

Ninjazz have SuperChops.

http://www.blipfoto.com/Scrybe


   
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(@blackadder89)
Eminent Member
Joined: 17 years ago
Posts: 12
Topic starter  

Dylan did name a lot of folk songs as inspirations melodically, one that springs to mind was "No More Auction Block" for "Blowin' in the Wind", and "Don't Think Twice" wasn't inspired melodically, I'm pretty sure he just took it straight out of another song.
One of his best songs -in my opinion- Lay Down Your Weary Tune, is adapted from some Celtic/Gaelic ballad according to Dylan....

I could talk about Dylan all day, but my questions about crafting melodies still stand. Tips, tricks, rules that would help me.

Any help's appreciated!


   
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