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Writing vocal lines

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(@hummerlein)
Estimable Member
Joined: 20 years ago
Posts: 168
Topic starter  

How do you guys do it? Mine always seem to sound silly and like they don't quite go how I want them. Maybe I just need more practice? I sometimes use my guitar to sound them out, but then it sounds like a guitar part translated to voice.


   
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(@anonymous)
Illustrious Member
Joined: 17 years ago
Posts: 8184
 

if i already have words, then there generally only seems to be one or two ways to fit them naturally to whatever chord progression i'll be playing. otherwise, i make up something on the guitar and just sing lalala or dododo or vowels or whatever over it. the melody generally comes naturally, so whatever feels right. most vocal lines are pretty simple and don't use big leaps, although they can be used powerfully or memorably if you use them well.
i don't know. i just start at one note and the rest kind of goes where it has to go depending on the chords and rhythm, especially if there are words that force a structure.
or course, just scatting for a while and staying on something you like probably has its merits, too.


   
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(@coleclark)
Honorable Member
Joined: 18 years ago
Posts: 417
 

iv written a fair few songs and most of them have come music first, then i combine that with an idea and play the music over and over till i can hear a vocal tune in my head. then either i think the words up then and there or try and fit words iv previously written to it, usually a mix of both. to each is own really, we just need to experiment until something works


   
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(@misanthrope)
Noble Member
Joined: 18 years ago
Posts: 2261
 

How do you guys do it? Mine always seem to sound silly and like they don't quite go how I want them. Maybe I just need more practice? I sometimes use my guitar to sound them out, but then it sounds like a guitar part translated to voice.
I tend to sing in 'ahhhh's and 'da-da-daaaa's until I have the melody roughly worked out, and then transcribe it. From there I count out the syllables and I'm really strict about the way my words fit to the melody. It sounds like you might be having the same trouble I have: that if the words are not chosen to match the melody carefully, they sound very forced (to me at least). I tend to be careful to make long notes/syllables only occur at the end of a sentence or before a comma, and fit long words with many syllables to runs of short notes. Basically, I try to match the song fairly closely to the how the pacing of the sentence would be if I were to just say it instead of sing it.

That's my base, anyway. From there, I just tinker endlessly, but it's usually changing the melody slightly to accomodate those 'rules' for words I don't want to change. :)

Another thing to note is that vocal melodies are very rarely complicated. They're usually made from a smaller selection of notes than you'd think, and they don't usually hold your interest as a melody for more than one verse without lyrics. Think of Smells like Teen Spirit - the solo is the same as the vocal melody and works really well, but it's the lyrics that make the verses interesting. If you just heard the solo played four times with choruses in between, you'd be bored - even though it's the same notes.

ChordsAndScales.co.uk - Guitar Chord/Scale Finder/Viewer


   
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