I wanted to post up a very simple song I wrote and kind of break it down into it’s nuts and bolts, make some judgements (good or bad) and then put it all back together again.
Now don’t get me wrong, this is by no means a polished performance, in fact bits of it might even suck! It’s just a 4 track recording using the excellent Mixcraft Multitrack Studio done in a few hours but I’d like to think it has some reasonable qualities too that we can pick apart between us and hopefully help everyone (including me) in our songwriting.
So here’s the song. It’s called Butterfly Tattoo, it’s actually quite an upbeat rock song I wrote in my band, but I LOVE to just play songs acoustically and a little less rocky at times. It can really show up any weakness or any strength a song may have:
Simple yes? Intro, Verse, Hook, Chorus, Outro and consists of 4 or 5 easy chords and some simple lyrics.
The chords are these: D, A, G, Bm, Em and I just spin them around in various sections of the song to make up the structure.
OK, so here’s how I started the song. I wanted some dead easy chords that worked together and a dead easy rhythm because I also wanted to be able to sing a the same time as playing. I know from playing many song covers and various learning techniques that these chords work well together. Classic songs like Suspicious Minds by Elvis, Runaway by Bon Jovi, Take it Easy by The Eagles all use these chords in one way or another.
Lyrically I wanted a simple but strong message. You can’t go wrong with ‘boy meets girl, boy runs away with girl’ can you? Hehe… it is actually a theme that you can just go with and pretty much write whatever pops into your head so I used the ‘Noun/Adjective Technique’ that we covered in my guide for quite a few of the lines. I’d had this idea of a Butterfly Tattoo kicking around for a long time and so just tried to build a story around it. Some lines work better than others.
The intro: I wanted to try and pick out a melody that prepares the listener for the chorus. It kind of reinforces the strong chorus line and is quite a common technique. I’ve noticed bands like The Killers use this method in their songs. Same goes for the likes of Bryan Adams too.
Verse 1: I wanted the focus of Butterfly Tattoo to be around the chorus so I was happy to keep the verse quite low key and really to just begin to tell the story. The chords in the verse are Bm, G, D, A and this then moves into the ‘hook’.
The hook ‘We can make it happen, believe’ is designed to catch the listeners attention and imagination. If you think about it, it really doesn’t mean much at all, however IT WILL have a different meaning to everyone, which is kinda cool yeah? The chord sequence first time through is Bm, G, D, A, but the second time through I replace the Bm with Em to add an extra dimension. Again I’ve learned that this technique works well by playing other peoples songs. I also wanted the song to begin to build to the chorus so I just simply doubled the vocal and added a two part harmony.
The chorus is where the song peaks. There’s a two part vocal harmony that runs throughout plus I got a little carried away and added a 2nd guitar which plays an octave run to enhance the 1st guitar. The chords are D, A, G, Bm, and Em again, so it’s just flipped around a little from the verse.
Verse 2 picks up from the chorus and now that the song has peaked I decided that I didn’t want it to ‘die down’ too much, so I carried on with a second guitar but this time picking chords as opposed to strumming.
The format then carries on the same until we reach the outro which use th D, A, G, Bm, Em sequnce of the chorus but with a slight variation in the vocal and again a two part harmony.
It’s a wrap! I Would be interested in your comments or questions so please post them on the blog >>
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