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Thread: chord voicings

  1. #1
    Registered User
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    chord voicings

    I write a lot of songs, and one thing I often find to be a problem is that if I write a melody first, the harmony is very similar to the melody. I really admire songs where the guitar part is a cathy but different riff as well as the melody, eg: Heart Shaped box (simple but very good) SOmetimes its not a problem, usually if I write the riff first, record it then makeup the vocal melody to make it ineresting again after it has become boring, but soemtimes I hit a wall, (usually when writing back ward from this technique). Is the trick to find different voicing of the same chrod so that the 'melody' of the harmony is different from that of the vocal melody, or should I be using different chord alltogther? If I need different voicings, where can I find some examples. There seem to many for jazz on the internet but not for the more simple chords which often accompany catchy melodies.
    Any help would be greatly apprecieated.
    Gareth

  2. #2
    Central Scrutinizer
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    Songwriting can be a tricky thing, epically to explain. And Iím not sure Iíve ever done it the exact same way twice. Nor am I convinced any ideas every truly original. I believe there a result of all you listen to and you learn. Iíve never listened to Blind Lemon Jefferson but itís possible Iíve played something close to one of his licks cause Iíve listen to Jeff Beck, Billy Gibbons, Johnny Winters, etc.
    You mention Heart Shaped Box, Cobain was a clever songwriter he had a good sense of pop structure. Whereíd it come from? Some he was born with, but rest he got (In My Opinion) by listening. Find out who listened to. Study the song. Study songs you wish youíd wrote. Study songs your glad you didnít write. Learn what to do and what not to do. I think when it comes to songwriting you canít beat listening and studying other writers. I think this is first and foremost before any theory, before anything.
    As far as chords go I donít think you can beat the ďlets plop my finger here and see what happens approach.Ē The Beatles got all kinna nice chords by wiggling there fingers around to match what they were singing. Though I think this is the best approach for songwriting I think itís an even better approach if you actually know what your doing.

    Study chord construction, know the 3 ways to invert a basic triad.
    Take a basic A chord A-C#-E and voice it on adjacent strings (654)(543)(432)(321) Youíll come up with at least 3 shapes on each string set that looks like 12 shapes but 3 are identical leaving 9 if you learn the Warp Refraction Principal of the second string your back to 3 base shapes again.
    If you know to spell Aminor you flat the 3 rd a half step (C#) to (C) then boom you know the Am triads as well by altering one note in each shape by one fret.
    Thereís plenty of stuff here in the learn section. Guni has some brilliant articles on Intervals, Triads, Chord Scales (thereís a link to some theses that arenít yet on the site, unfortunately I donít know it) Theory is a great way to enhance your songwriting. I donít think theory creates songwriters it only enhances whatís there. And that crap about how knowing theory will kill your creativity is just that crap.

    As far as the riff thing (If Iím getting you right) your saying your riff may sound too much like the melody. If so is that a bad thing. Not necessarily. Though it can be over done. If thatís the case try singing another melody over the chord changes. That can be difficult as your melody is still stuck in your head but see how many different melodies you can create over those chords. This works for solos as well. You can also do as you suggested play over something completely different. If your songs in G play a E minor riff. Or play a A riff and start you chords on D.
    Or do anything you want. Its your song. I think best bet is find songs that do what youíd like to do and take em apart and see why and how they work.
    Last edited by The Bash; 09-03-2002 at 10:16 AM.
    "All other things being equal, the simplest solution is usually the correct one." William of Occam

  3. #3
    Central Scrutinizer
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    Open string thing

    Also Open strings are your friends. I love the sound of open ringing strings.
    Itís not only cool but easy to use.
    Just take any bar chord and let the two high strings ring open.
    Move it round still sounds good. Name it if you like. It does have a name.
    Same with any other chord shape.
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    "All other things being equal, the simplest solution is usually the correct one." William of Occam

  4. #4
    Central Scrutinizer
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    Steve Howe used this chord shape to nice effect during the final movement of Starship Trooper
    Its just a simple C chord shape with a high 5 th added in place of the 3 rd.
    The droning G gives the progression a unique sound. It said he got the voicing idea from listening to a pianist (donít remember who)
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    Last edited by The Bash; 09-03-2002 at 11:04 AM.
    "All other things being equal, the simplest solution is usually the correct one." William of Occam

  5. #5
    Central Scrutinizer
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    Here's a little part from one my tunes
    it just takes that C#sus2 chord (That I stole from Sting) adds open strings then moves down a whole step.
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    "All other things being equal, the simplest solution is usually the correct one." William of Occam

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