So this week I've been working on a few new piano-based songs. In particular I've been listening to a lot of Jackson Browne to see how he uses riffs and chord progressions to create certain moods in his music. That's something I do a lot as a songwriter, seek out the best artists in my genre (at the moment that's mainly folk rock) and then listen actively to their stuff to see how they are able to create the moods in their music to express what they want to say. The song is especially effective when the lyric compliments that mood.
There are a few sneaky inside tips I've learned over the years on what to do once you've isolated those techniques the songwriter has used. For example with a riff, you could try altering the rhythm slightly and moving a note here and there. Or try moving it up a few notes in the scale to see how it sounds there. That's something I did on a new song I'm working on at the moment, Meet Somebody Tonight. I took the intro piano riff to Jackson Browne's Somebody's Baby and moved it down a few notes, keeping everything else the same (even the key!). Now I've got something fairly original (okay it's derivative in some regards, but then what isn't in pop music?)
You can hear a sneak peek of my new song's opening riff here:
Sound similar right? Of course the next thing to do is to write a different melody and lyrics to complete the new song, which is exactly what I did. The new song actually has different chords too. But the "feel" or "mood" of the song is not too far from Jackson Browne's original. This isn't plagiarism, it's being inspired by the past masters and trying to take things to a different level.
I'll tell you a bit more about the new song in my next post. But for now take care my precious #Foxcubs!