All songwriters are different and have their own ways of working based on their skill level and abilities. Here is mine:
- SONG CREATION
All of my music ideas, whether it´s a whole song melody, just the chorus melody or just the verse melody, bridge part, bass line or whatever; everything always just pops into my head out of a sudden. I never sit down at a piano or with a guitar in hand and try to compose a melody from scratch and «force out a song». That would not make sense for me to do when I can´t really play any of the instruments. So i receive a song idea in my head and I try to save the idea on my iPhone by whistling the melody or, in some rare occasions, try to sing or hum a little if I need to point something out that I can´t get out with whistling. The main point is to get the song melody/idea down so I can remember it.
2. INSTRUMENTAL DEMO CREATION
The next step is to make a demo that I can present to a potential music producer and/or vocalist. Because of my horrible singing voice I have found out that I can´t make a demo with me singing so I have had to come up with another way for me to present the vocal melody. The solution is that I play the vocal melody with the saxophone instrument in the Logic music software that I use. And I build the arrangement and get down all my music ideas that I have for the songs around that vocal melody.
Like I have said many times: I can´t play piano and I don´t know anything about chords and music theory. All that matters to me is really the song melody and that it becomes correct and the way it´s supposed to be. Which chords that are used to support the melody is less important to me.
When I start the process of creating a demo in Logic I usually start with programming a drum machine beat using the «Ultrabeat» tool. After that I usually start getting the vocal melody recorded first with the saxophone instrument. I have the melody in my head and I create several tracks with the saxophone instrument in the Logic project and start to play around on the keyboard until I manage to play a part of the melody. Then I push record and get that section down. After that I play around on the keys until I get the next section of the melody and record that on the next track and I continue this until I have played and recorded the whole song melody like that. And there is a lot of copy, paste and gluing together different parts going on during this process. It does not go very fast of course but considering that I have done this for many years now it takes a lot less time now to create an instrumental demo than it did some years ago.
After I have the vocal melody recorded I start to use other instruments to build up the song as I hear it in my head. I use three fingers on the keys to try and create some underlaying chords. I do this by ear and have no idea if all of it really are real chords but I try to hear if it sounds right. I usually use some kind of electric piano for that and add some bass, maybe synth leads for a hook part and always a lot of strings underneath the whole song so I get a richer sound that I like. Then, after some time, I have created an instrumental demo out of my song idea.
3. SONG PRESENTATION
When I am going to work with a producer I need to present the songs we are going to work on to him. I play him this instrumental demo so he can hear the melody and my ideas for the song. In addition I might tell and explain and come with extra information about what I want or if there are things that are extra important to me. If there is anything that is confusing with the melody I can whistle it to get the confusion sorted out.
4. NEW VERSION
The producer then uses my instrumental demo as a guide and works out a new and professional version of the song. We have of course agreed on a direction and sound in advance and if there is something that does not sound right to me I will let the producer know. When the instrumental of the song is finished and approved it´s time to present it to the vocalist who then records the vocals on top of it.