The term 'songwriter' often gets misconstrued as someone who:
- Is a solo singer/ songwriter
- Writes songs to be performed by others
- Writes songs for the sole purpose of licensing
Now, don't get us wrong, a songwriter is very much all of those things, or at least they can be. But the fact is, many songwriters are also band members!
All bands have a songwriting process (or else they would have no original songs), so the question becomes: How do you write songs when in a 'band' scenario?
Many bands have a principle songwriter, but others explore more group efforts in their writing efforts. Just as each songwriter has their own process, each band has their own process for putting together songs as well.
The following are 5 common ways that bands approach the songwriting process. If you are in a band and work in a different way, please feel free to let us know in the form of a comment below!
1) Songwriter & critique group
One of the most common ways to write as a band is to have a single songwriter that writes the music and presents it to the rest of the band, acting as a critique group which gives feedback and suggestions to make the song better.
Many bands throughout music history have worked with co-writers, and as we discussed last week, many of the best songs ever written were done so by co-writers. This would work similarly to the songwriter & critique group above, with the only difference being that the co-writers present the music to the rest of the band.
3) Multiple songwriters
Simliar to co-writers, this idea would have two or more songwriters in one group. The big difference here is that instead of the songwriters working together, they would work separately and each present their own works to the band. For example: John Lennon and Paul McCartney functioned as co-writers early on, the later era of the Beatles showed the two working very much on their own and each bringing their own songs to the table.
4) Group effort
In this scenario, the entire band would work together throughout the writing process as one collective songwriting group. While the group may lack the direction and vision of a single songwriter, the benefit here is that songwriting process would play to each band member's strengths, be it melodies, harmonies, rhythm (bass and/ or drums), horn arrangements, etc.
5) Jam session
The most experimental, yet group-involved band-centric songwriting process is to write through a process of jam sessions. The idea here is to simply start playing, maybe using of a pre-determined chord progression, or maybe using nothing pre-determined at all and let the creativity flow. The best way to ensure you capture all of the song possibilities from a jam session is to record each session and then have a listening session afterwards.
How does your band write songs?
Just as solo songwriters each have their own songwriting process, each band has their own process as well. Let us know how your band approaches the songwriting process in the form of a comment below.