The Development of a Song, Part 1

This should be the first post in a series, I hope. I guess it depends on how far I take this song here that I've written.

I've been listening to the 5by5.tv podcast Amplified with Dan Benjamin and Jim Dalrymple, in which they discuss the various Apple-centric tech issues of the day/week, but also, they reserve a bit of time at the end of the show for talking about music, music tech (especially as it relates to Apple/Mac), guitars, etc... Jim is a guitar player, like myself, and he answers a lot of questions aimed at people getting into guitar playing and home recording for the first time. I was sort of hoping that I could do a little bit of that myself, as it relates to songwriting, recording, and building a new song from the ground up. This will be me-centric, as I can't really tell you how other people work. This is just how I usually do it.  On with the show...

So, I was noodling around on my guitar about a week ago, playing some chords, various progressions and changes, when I sort of stumbled onto the progression for "Don't Stop Believing," the 80's-riffic Journey anthem. When you get right down to it, it's a pretty simple, standard chord progression:

E, B, C#m, A, E, B, G#m, A

That's pretty much all there is to it. Add in a sweet guitar solo and Steve Perry's vocals, and you've got a rock anthem. And, as the saying goes, "good artists borrow, great artists steal." I took that chord progression, cut it in half, made the second half the verse pattern, and the first half the chorus pattern:

Verse: E, B, G#m, A

Chorus: E, B, C#m, A, B (I added that last B chord as a transition back to E)

I fired up Logic Pro (my personal choice for songwriting), laid down a rhythm guitar part with a basic drum loop, and voila!

FYI, the B chord is played a little differently rather than a straight barre chord. Here's the tab for what I'm playing (ignore the chord name on the C#m in the chorus - it's a C#m with a G# in the bass, Logic's tab features are cool, but weird):

Verse chords

Chorus chords

I sat with that, just like it was for a day or two, and when I had a chance, I came back to the song and added a second guitar part to compliment the first. The 2nd guitar plays the same chord shapes, just a complimentary rhythm in the verse, and doubling the chorus, adding some power and depth.

Then, a few days later, I was playing through the progression I had recorded, and decided I wanted to take the song somewhere slightly different, so I added a bridge section. This took some noodling around with chords, and I will admit, I think there's some Rick Springfield in there, and I definitely ripped off The Hungry Things "Jaime" part on the descending chords that take us from the E back to the A:

Bridge - first 4 bars

Bridge - 2nd 4 bars

The 3rd 4 bars of the bridge is the same as the 1st four, then the last 4 bars is A, B, E, A C#m, B, A, B.

The last thing I did yesterday afternoon was repeat a couple choruses at the end of the song, leaving room for a possible guitar solo or something, and added an actual ending, as opposed to a fade out:

Notice the click track that keeps going at the end... oops. By the way, I wanted to post these audio files on SoundCloud, since they have the cool widget for embedding audio, but they issued an automatic copyright takedown on the very first file that I posted, the seed version of the song, so I'm immediately kinda soured on the whole thing. If anyone thinks it's worth keeping up with SoundCloud, let me know in the comments.

So, in the next installment, I'd like to get the bass guitar in, possibly some keyboards, and start working on lyrics/vocals. Anyone have any lyrical ideas?