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AnthG
05-23-2014, 06:59 AM
General question i've always wondered to myself, and maybe people here can help out because they're either in bands or just more knowledgeable about the subject. But what constitutes as songwriting?

This is probably a silly question that I should know, but it's always confused me. In general, it seems that the guitar parts constitute as songwriting, hence why the guitarists in bands are usually the ones with the songwriting credits (in terms of the music, not lyrics, which I know definitely constitute as part of the writing), but not the bass or drums. Which had me confused, as those are still "part of the song" so to speak, and it's not like the guitarist or "songwriter" is necessarily going to the bassist or drummer "Yeah, play this, and that, and this on this part here" (i'm sure that's the case sometimes but not an inherent rule).

I realize it's a stupid question and I probably should know, but someone explain to me as i'm sure there's lots of stuff to it. I realized now I could probably google it but I already typed out this whole thing.

ravenheart
05-23-2014, 07:49 AM
Truth: everybody who writes something should get a credit, including drummers and bassists (but not keyboard players because keyboards are gay ;))
Reality: the biggest egos get the credit - usually the singer or guitar player

That said, quite a lot of guitarists and singers write songs with drum tracks on them, so does it count as "songwriting" when the drummer throws some fills in? Probably not. You'll probably find that drummers used to get more writing credits in the '70s when guitarists and singers didn't have computer software that could generate the drum guide tracks for them. Also, most guitarists can probably play bass well enough to lay down guide tracks for that too, and bassists just embellish that.

moobys37
05-23-2014, 08:14 AM
Truth: everybody who writes something should get a credit, including drummers and bassists (but not keyboard players because keyboards are gay ;))
Reality: the biggest egos get the credit - usually the singer or guitar player

That said, quite a lot of guitarists and singers write songs with drum tracks on them, so does it count as "songwriting" when the drummer throws some fills in? Probably not. You'll probably find that drummers used to get more writing credits in the '70s when guitarists and singers didn't have computer software that could generate the drum guide tracks for them. Also, most guitarists can probably play bass well enough to lay down guide tracks for that too, and bassists just embellish that.

As the keyboard player in my band is a lesbian this statement is 100% correct ;)

Since our band is a duo it's easy and we just credit both of us when it comes to songwriting but in my old 5 piece band typically we would only credit whoever came up with the riffs or the specific parts the rest of the band built around.

JRA
05-23-2014, 08:23 AM
I actually remember reading somewhere that the only people allowed to get royalties for the songwriting are the people who write the lyrics, and the people who write the vocal melodies.

ravenheart
05-23-2014, 09:12 AM
I actually remember reading somewhere that the only people allowed to get royalties for the songwriting are the people who write the lyrics, and the people who write the vocal melodies.

Not sure if it differs from country to country, but here I know for sure that the writer of the lyrics, and the writer of the "music" (debate what constitutes this part as you will) have separate royalties. And obviously if it's the same person, they get both.

John The Drummer
05-23-2014, 09:40 AM
The way I see it...

Who ever writes the lyrics gets the credit for that, whoever writes the song melodies/riffs/etc gets credit for that.

AnthG
05-23-2014, 10:20 AM
So anything that's based off of those "main Parts" (melodies, riffs, etc.) aren't counted as writing the song?

adamclark52
05-23-2014, 10:43 AM
I would hope that a person who writes the riffs would get some credit.

AnthG
05-23-2014, 10:48 AM
I wrote that wrong. The riffs are considered the "main part" of the song. What I meant was stuff based off of those main parts, such as bass lines, drum fills, etc. aren't counted as song writing.

John The Drummer
05-23-2014, 11:28 AM
I think it really just depends on how the band is run....

My band, per se, give the obvious vocal credit to the vocalist, and the music credit to the guitarist or whoever wrote the riffs/flow of the song. Our last album had some riffs from previous guitarists who had quit, so we still gave them credit in the "Music By - ..." part of the notes.

Some bands just say "Everything by Pantera" or whatever since in the end it really is everyone chipping in (unless its a solo project or legitly written by one member, every part)

Dextrimental
05-23-2014, 12:38 PM
I think unless there's one person writing basically everything, then it should be a band credit. At the end of the day, even if your song is ALMOST complete, you need the other members to take it to that finished state. Then you have a band like Megadeth, where clearly Dave is the only one writing the music, everyone just follows what he does. Broderick solos, but I'd imagine he has next to no decision on where the solo goes, Dave probably points him in the direction of what he wants the style to be and all.

SomewhereInTime72
05-24-2014, 09:18 PM
It's hard to say... In my assumption, songwriting means that you had a part in something that wasn't a solo.

I don't know how many bands practice it but, I think that if the guitarist wrote the riff, then the bassist came up with a bass line and the drummer wrote the beat and the singer came up with something to sing over it, then that means the entire band wrote the song, not the guitarist/singer or whatever.

But more often then not, the guitarist will come up with a riff, and know exactly what kind of the drumbeat he envisions backing it and tells the drummer to do that. If you play guitar or bass, its not hard to write parts for the other, and its not hard to communicate to a drummer what sort of beat you are describing (even in great detail if you understand the basics of drums, which are pretty easy to understand - the difficulty is in the execution/making it interesting). Similarly a drummer could write a melody without any guitar knowledge pretty easily. If I were to guess, this is the sort of thing that goes on in a band that gives individual members writing credit (a band that works more like how I described in the previous paragraph seems like a band that just puts "Everyone" as songwriter.) I know for Iron Maiden, there's plenty of songs written exclusively by Steve Harris, and it's been said that he often writes all guitar parts, whistles the vocal melody, and even ratata/hums the drums - he's a man with the plan.

What usually doesn't count for songwriting is embellishments:
-Solos: If one guitarist writes the bulk of the song, then says "In this part I'll take the first solo, then when we switch to this other riff, you take a solo there," the second guitarist hasn't really contributed songwriting.
-Fills (drum fills, "fills" that guitarists and bassists also sometimes do, extra vocal flair): Someone else came up with this part for you to play and you're putting your own personal spin on it with this fill or something along those lines - that's great, your style is why you're in the band and not some other drummer, but it doesn't mean you've really written the song.

There's definitely an ego thing involved, and it's hard to say how much of what you read in the songwriting credits is legit, but I think a little ego is a good thing. It's good to take pride in the songs you were the mastermind of, if your band permits masterminding (if you cant tell by how i've written this song i'm a huge mastermind style songwriter lol)

adamclark52
05-24-2014, 10:12 PM
It's hard to say... In my assumption, songwriting means that you had a part in something that wasn't a solo.

I don't know how many bands practice it but, I think that if the guitarist wrote the riff, then the bassist came up with a bass line and the drummer wrote the beat and the singer came up with something to sing over it, then that means the entire band wrote the song, not the guitarist/singer or whatever.

But more often then not, the guitarist will come up with a riff, and know exactly what kind of the drumbeat he envisions backing it and tells the drummer to do that. If you play guitar or bass, its not hard to write parts for the other, and its not hard to communicate to a drummer what sort of beat you are describing (even in great detail if you understand the basics of drums, which are pretty easy to understand - the difficulty is in the execution/making it interesting). Similarly a drummer could write a melody without any guitar knowledge pretty easily. If I were to guess, this is the sort of thing that goes on in a band that gives individual members writing credit (a band that works more like how I described in the previous paragraph seems like a band that just puts "Everyone" as songwriter.) I know for Iron Maiden, there's plenty of songs written exclusively by Steve Harris, and it's been said that he often writes all guitar parts, whistles the vocal melody, and even ratata/hums the drums - he's a man with the plan.

What usually doesn't count for songwriting is embellishments:
-Solos: If one guitarist writes the bulk of the song, then says "In this part I'll take the first solo, then when we switch to this other riff, you take a solo there," the second guitarist hasn't really contributed songwriting.
-Fills (drum fills, "fills" that guitarists and bassists also sometimes do, extra vocal flair): Someone else came up with this part for you to play and you're putting your own personal spin on it with this fill or something along those lines - that's great, your style is why you're in the band and not some other drummer, but it doesn't mean you've really written the song.

There's definitely an ego thing involved, and it's hard to say how much of what you read in the songwriting credits is legit, but I think a little ego is a good thing. It's good to take pride in the songs you were the mastermind of, if your band permits masterminding (if you cant tell by how i've written this song i'm a huge mastermind style songwriter lol)

All good, except I disagree on the point I bolded. Unless the second guitarist is as awesome as I am and can't remember a bit of what he's played once he's played it I think a lot of work can go in to writing/composing a solo. Take a guy like Jeff Loomis. If I were to have him come in and do a guest solo on my song I know he'd put a lot of thought into it and he'd deserve credit as a songwriter, since the solo (or any solo for that matter) is a focal point of the song. The same could go for a band environment. I can't think of any, but I'm sure there's lots of bands where one guitarist writes a bulk of the songs but another contributes more to the solos.

But if you have a superstar like me come in and pretend to shred (while really just playing as many notes as I can as fast as I can) then yeah, I don't think I'd deserve songwriting credit.

I guess my thought on solos is the performers ability to replicate it and how they go about composing it.

Fills I agree with you. They're almost always improvised and really, inconsequenceal.

JRA
05-25-2014, 10:02 AM
So anything that's based off of those "main Parts" (melodies, riffs, etc.) aren't counted as writing the song?


According to what I read, yes.

So all Black Sabbath songs would be credited to Geezer and Ozzy.

AnthG
05-25-2014, 10:54 AM
I can't think of any, but I'm sure there's lots of bands where one guitarist writes a bulk of the songs but another contributes more to the solos.


Metallica's the first that comes to mind. The majority of their songwriting credits are to Hetfield/Ulrich even though Hammett is doing most of the solos.

SomewhereInTime72
05-27-2014, 10:08 PM
All good, except I disagree on the point I bolded. Unless the second guitarist is as awesome as I am and can't remember a bit of what he's played once he's played it I think a lot of work can go in to writing/composing a solo. Take a guy like Jeff Loomis. If I were to have him come in and do a guest solo on my song I know he'd put a lot of thought into it and he'd deserve credit as a songwriter, since the solo (or any solo for that matter) is a focal point of the song. The same could go for a band environment. I can't think of any, but I'm sure there's lots of bands where one guitarist writes a bulk of the songs but another contributes more to the solos.

But if you have a superstar like me come in and pretend to shred (while really just playing as many notes as I can as fast as I can) then yeah, I don't think I'd deserve songwriting credit.

I guess my thought on solos is the performers ability to replicate it and how they go about composing it.

Fills I agree with you. They're almost always improvised and really, inconsequenceal.

In fairness, this is usually noted elsewhere when the credit is due.

An album's notes often look something like:
SONG TITLE
(lyrics: dude, music: another dude)
words words words

words words words

SOLO: Jeff Loomis

words words words