Turn a band into songwriters: 10 songs in an hour

That’s right, if you did the math, you quickly realized that the band must write a song every 6 minutes to stay on target and they MUST STAY ON TARGET. That is the challenge. You have to enforce that they have to do 10 songs in an hour.

This is how I do it:

I divide the gang into groups of two. If they’re a trio, I’ll step in and play along. Each group receives a guitar, a small amplifier and a small PA system. I put a wall of gobos (sound deadening device) between them and hit Go while recording both the guitar amp and vocal mic in each room. One person is expected to sing and the other to play the guitar. After writing each song, they must change.

While this method may seem a bit out of the question, it is the best way to get a band working creatively together. It breaks a lot of barriers and it’s common for around 10% of the songs to be very good. I like this method because it solves many problems. It forces the band to be a band.

One problem that the 10 songs in an hour challenge solves is the notion that the singer has to come up with all the melodies. Because? Okay, a singer should be able to sing, but in my opinion, the melody is the whole song. The only thing that separates a great song from a bad song is the vocal melody, in my world. So let’s have the whole band write the melodies. You’d be surprised how good your drummer can be at creative vocal melodies.

Many guys are shy in front of the microphone. I’ve never recorded any Kansas-type band where the whole band can sing. I’m lucky to find a band that a guy can sing in. So the guy who doesn’t have a clue how to sing should take the microphone and do it. Even when a terrible singer takes the microphone, the intention is usually clear. A true singer would have no problem making his drummer’s tune sound great. So when you force a guy to sing, he usually adapts to his situation.

Force everyone to play the guitar or a similar instrument. This is great. It makes the drummer pick up an instrument he’s not used to. If he can’t play it, he has to deal with it. That is part of the process. You can play lines of a note if necessary. I just want a song. Skill on the instrument rarely affects the quality of the song.

While there are certainly exceptions, a band that isn’t used to writing a lot of songs just won’t write a lot of songs. By adapting to this lightning-fast method, the band will understand that no song has to be great. In fact, you need to write some terrible songs on purpose to get your brain creative enough to do something interesting. Gangs play it safe all the time. They feel like every song has to be great. In fact, it’s the opposite. I noticed it more with the ’80s pop groups that weren’t going to get cut after the first record like they are now. Sometimes they came up with the most fucking stupid songs. Listen to a lot of Human League. They had at least 3 top 10 hits, but then they heard “Black Hit of Space” or “Empire State Human”. It can be said that they were simply wrong. When you’re really creative and experimenting is when you’ll come up with your hits and your crap.

I’m not saying that the 10 songs in an hour method is the best method for all bands. I think it’s a great method for bands that need to come together as a group. It’s a great songwriting tool for any band that just expects the singer to write songs. No need to point fingers. Each band member is responsible for writing great songs in this situation.

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