Songcraft: A Cappella Songwriting

11

Comments

+ Add a Comment
avatar

Kai

I fully agree with just sometimes leaving your instrument out of the picture and just humming or singing what ever comes to your mind freestyling like a MC. It's more enjoyable since you don't focus so much on actually singing like an angel but just having fun and believe me I'm no angel. The moment you follow a chord progressing and try to stick to that melody you're bound to get frustrated trying to write lyrics to it or even to just simply sing along to it. Another method I've learned to just simple have fun is, I have an old nylon acoustic, it only has 3 strings. Lol E,G,B of which all are out of tune. Trying to get something good out of that, that actually sounds like music is a real challenge it's helped me a lot as a musician.

avatar

Kai

I fully agree with just sometimes leaving your instrument out of the picture and just humming or singing what ever comes to your mind freestyling like a MC. It's more enjoyable since you don't focus so much on actually singing like an angel but just having fun and believe me I'm no angel. The moment you follow a chord progressing and try to stick to that melody you're bound to get frustrated trying to write lyrics to it or even to just simply sing along to it. Another method I've learned to just simple have fun is, I have an old nylon acoustic, it only has 3 strings. Lol E,G,B of which all are out of tune. Trying to get something good out of that, that actually sounds like music is a real challenge it's helped me a lot as a musician.

avatar

Kai

I fully agree with just sometimes leaving your instrument out of the picture and just humming or singing what ever comes to your mind freestyling like a MC. It's more enjoyable since you don't focus so much on actually singing like an angel but just having fun and believe me I'm no angel. The moment you follow a chord progressing and try to stick to that melody you're bound to get frustrated trying to write lyrics to it or even to just simply sing along to it. Another method I've learned to just simple have fun is, I have an old nylon acoustic, it only has 3 strings. Lol E,G,B of which all are out of tune. Trying to get something good out of that, that actually sounds like music is a real challenge it's helped me a lot as a musician.

avatar

Kai

I fully agree with just sometimes leaving your instrument out of the picture and just humming or singing what ever comes to your mind freestyling like a MC. It's more enjoyable since you don't focus so much on actually singing like an angel but just having fun and believe me I'm no angel. The moment you follow a chord progressing and try to stick to that melody you're bound to get frustrated trying to write lyrics to it or even to just simply sing along to it. Another method I've learned to just simple have fun is, I have an old nylon acoustic, it only has 3 strings. Lol E,G,B of which all are out of tune. Trying to get something good out of that, that actually sounds like music is a real challenge it's helped me a lot as a musician.

avatar

MarkBacino

Kai,

Thanks for your comment! Cool to hear a cappella songwriting is something you use/works for you.

You make a lot of good points, the process IS kind of like MC free-styling. Great way to look at it.

I like your out-of-tune, nylon acoustic guitar idea as well, that's great! I might have to steal that one!

Ultimately, I feel like any hack that breaks you from your normal writing process is really fair game and will, at the very least, force you to head toward some musical destinations you might not normally visit. Hopefully some of those trips will yield you a few fresh song ideas.

avatar

MarkBacino

Kai,

Thanks for your comment! Cool to hear a cappella songwriting is something you use/works for you.

You make a lot of good points, the process IS kind of like MC free-styling. Great way to look at it.

I like your out-of-tune, nylon acoustic guitar idea as well, that's great! I might have to steal that one!

Ultimately, I feel like any hack that breaks you from your normal writing process is really fair game and will, at the very least, force you to head toward some musical destinations you might not normally visit. Hopefully some of those trips will yield you a few fresh song ideas.

avatar

RonZabrocki

I think it's a great way of writing that should be seriously considered. It takes away one's limitations on the instrument, and also muscle memory. Leaving the axe of choice behind, we are only left with freedom. As a guitarist, I often use this method to write solo's and arrange strings. I sing the parts then learn them later. Guitarist's would be surprised at at how many new method's there are to grow musically. When I studied rhythm with Peter Randall he didn't allow us to bring instrument's to lessons. Didn't matter to him. Rhythm was rhythm. Same here. Music is music...but in this case you lose your limitations your fingers have fallen into and fall into a brave new world of unlimited composition! And that is the essence of improvisation! Great blog!

avatar

MarkBacino

Ron,

Thanks for the comments and the kind words, appreciate it!

Crazy re: Peter Randall's classes, that's interesting (& just plain cool, too ;-)

Great point about muscle memory. Our hands always want to follow familiar and comfortable paths when we play. A cappella writing eliminates those habits and frees us to go in fresh and new directions.

avatar

RonZabrocki

Anyone reading this should checkout Mark's songs...he know's of what he speaks.

avatar

Arthur Kukri

A cappella songs really are difficult for me to come up with. I hear the sound of my own voice with no guitar and I feel exposed and stuff. I've been trying to read more about it so that I can get a better feel for how to approach the whole thing, but so far, it's not happening.

avatar

MarkBacino

Hey Arthur,

Thank you for reading and thanks for the comment.

Not suggesting people create a cappella songs and keep them as such. I'm suggesting a cappella songwriting as a method by which folks can break out of their usual writing habits and expand their creative palettes free from the constrains of their given instrument. Sometimes composing with just your voice allows you to come up with something you might never have written if you were writing with, say, a guitar or a piano as per usual. Once you've created that riff or melody a cappella, you can then bring it back to the guitar or piano and continue to finish off and mold your new idea into a song the way you normally do.

That said, if working a cappella makes you uncomfortable and less productive, I'd say forget it. In the end the goal is really just to have fun and make great music, right? So really nothing should stand in the way of that.

Log in to Guitar World directly or log in using Facebook

Forgot your username or password?
Click here for help.

  • Sign in with Twitter
Login with Facebook
Log in using Facebook to share comments and articles easily with your Facebook feed.