How much do lyrics matter to you?

wsabol

Gold Member
Ok, I'll cave in on my my original opinion slightly. I did realize that there are a select few songs where I really do love the lyrics. I mainly like those songs for the feel, but its comforting to know that the lyrics are just as good. This song that made me realize this is "Running against the wind" (bob seger)

There is something I'm alittle confused about though: this drummer/singer business. Normally when there is a singer, the relationship is singer/band, not singer/drummer. The band is there to support the singer. I understand arranging the song around the lyrics, but I really don't think its the drummer's job or anyone else's to play to their own interpretation of the lyrics. Their should be one interpretation of the lyrics and the band should play it as one. For instance, not to pick on larry, but his decision to get quieter in the a dramatic part of that song he talked about. I don't think that's a bad idea, but if the rest of the band isn't doing it, I wouldn't if were in Larry's shoes. I think it would sound like a mistake more than anything.

what do you guys think?
 

DrumEatDrum

Platinum Member
There is something I'm alittle confused about though: this drummer/singer business. Normally when there is a singer, the relationship is singer/band, not singer/drummer. The band is there to support the singer. I understand arranging the song around the lyrics, but I really don't think its the drummer's job or anyone else's to play to their own interpretation of the lyrics. Their should be one interpretation of the lyrics and the band should play it as one. For instance, not to pick on larry, but his decision to get quieter in the a dramatic part of that song he talked about. I don't think that's a bad idea, but if the rest of the band isn't doing it, I wouldn't if were in Larry's shoes. I think it would sound like a mistake more than anything.

what do you guys think?
You make a valid point, it is a whole band thing. But in Larry's defense, it's the drummer, often more than any other instrument, that controls the bands dynamics. If the guitars plays a quiet section while the drummer is still full bore, no one would notice. If the drummer brings it down, everyone notices.
 

larryace

"Uncle Larry"
Right. In that particular instance, (The song, "The Weight") the sonic impact by lessening my own volume slightly on that one lyric is enough to achieve the goal. It's not a loud part of the song there, so it works even if I do it alone. It's only a few seconds, but it's an important few seconds. But agreed, most dynamics have to have the whole band doing it. And I concede again that most lyrics you can't play to. I am on the lookout for the ones I can play to though. Lyrics do however dictate what is being sung about, and IMO influence what kind of drum part will be most appropriate.

As far as the singer/drummer connection, don't write it off. Singers....you have to have their back. The quicker you understand that, the better you will be thought of. You have the power to really make or break that person. For instance, when the singer makes a bad joke during chit chat time, you have to be listening so you can punctuate the punch line with a stupid splash or something. Lousy example but it explains my point. The singer is counting on the drummer to be there for them: Other things singers count on the drummer to:

A. Ease up on the volume a bit when the singer initially gets on mic, generally speaking, that's a good rule of thumb (song dependent of course)
B. Not step on the singers lyrics. Allow them to soak up all the attention, don't distract from them.
C. Be as one with the brain of the singer. Read their mind to the best of your ability. You will be treasured by them if you do this
D. Not take your eyes off the singer. You never know when they will give direction, in the form of hand signals or otherwise. Plus you can usually read their body language and ramp up the intensity as needed to match the singers intensity, or lack thereof. When the singer is on mic, THEY ARE THE BOSS, YOU CATER TO THEM.
E. Punctuate stuff if the lyric calls for it

I'm sure there's more but you get the gist. Nobody is connected to the singer more than the drummer. IMO we both share the 2 most emotional aspects of a song, the lyric and the drum part, so we need to operate together, in sync as a unit, on the same page with the same goal so it comes off to the audience the way it should.

Since I have to analogize everything, think of it like the band is the car, the singer is the driver, and when the singer steps on the gas, you, as the engine, need to be responsive. You don't want a disconnect there.
 

wsabol

Gold Member
Since I have to analogize everything, think of it like the band is the car, the singer is the driver, and when the singer steps on the gas, you, as the engine, need to be responsive. You don't want a disconnect there.
Gotcha larry.. Nice. :)
 

Pollyanna

Platinum Member
Oohh....I do really really dislike Dungeon & Drangons and Lord of the Rings inspired lyrics.
I quite like them - because I don't pay attention. You hear "The winds of Thor are blowing cold" and you immediately have permission to focus on a spacey keyboards and vocal effects because you won't miss a damn thing :)

I first read LOTR not long before the movies (lucky timing) so I didn't have a clue what the song was about for years, yet I still felt a sense of drama when RP sang "They hold no quarter" with that big riff going on. Still one of my fave Zep songs.

And that - most times - sums up the relationship between singers and drummers. We're like the family dog, totally in there and acutely responsive to the emotional tenor of what's going on with the family, but our relationship with what's going on is far more amorphous and primal than that of the vocalist.

Larry said the vocalist and drummer being the emotional heart of a band and I agree. The drums paint emotions with a broad brush so, if a singer expresses whimsical melancholy we'll express "quiet and reserved". Where the vocalist expresses exuberant hopefulness we'll express the exuberant part, just like a family dog would.

It's a primal instrument, and that's a large part of its appeal.
 

DrumEatDrum

Platinum Member
Since I have to analogize everything, think of it like the band is the car, the singer is the driver, and when the singer steps on the gas, you, as the engine, need to be responsive. You don't want a disconnect there.
I like that. Good one Larry.
 

8Mile

Platinum Member
Right. In that particular instance, (The song, "The Weight") the sonic impact by lessening my own volume slightly on that one lyric is enough to achieve the goal. It's not a loud part of the song there, so it works even if I do it alone. It's only a few seconds, but it's an important few seconds. But agreed, most dynamics have to have the whole band doing it. And I concede again that most lyrics you can't play to. I am on the lookout for the ones I can play to though. Lyrics do however dictate what is being sung about, and IMO influence what kind of drum part will be most appropriate.

As far as the singer/drummer connection, don't write it off. Singers....you have to have their back. The quicker you understand that, the better you will be thought of. You have the power to really make or break that person. For instance, when the singer makes a bad joke during chit chat time, you have to be listening so you can punctuate the punch line with a stupid splash or something. Lousy example but it explains my point. The singer is counting on the drummer to be there for them: Other things singers count on the drummer to:

A. Ease up on the volume a bit when the singer initially gets on mic, generally speaking, that's a good rule of thumb (song dependent of course)
B. Not step on the singers lyrics. Allow them to soak up all the attention, don't distract from them.
C. Be as one with the brain of the singer. Read their mind to the best of your ability. You will be treasured by them if you do this
D. Not take your eyes off the singer. You never know when they will give direction, in the form of hand signals or otherwise. Plus you can usually read their body language and ramp up the intensity as needed to match the singers intensity, or lack thereof. When the singer is on mic, THEY ARE THE BOSS, YOU CATER TO THEM.
E. Punctuate stuff if the lyric calls for it

I'm sure there's more but you get the gist. Nobody is connected to the singer more than the drummer. IMO we both share the 2 most emotional aspects of a song, the lyric and the drum part, so we need to operate together, in sync as a unit, on the same page with the same goal so it comes off to the audience the way it should.

Since I have to analogize everything, think of it like the band is the car, the singer is the driver, and when the singer steps on the gas, you, as the engine, need to be responsive. You don't want a disconnect there.
I really like this post because this describes my relationship with the singer almost perfectly.
 

BillBachman

Gold Member
They don't matter to me much, but it's always a great idea to learn them or at least what a song is about before you record it. It may affect the way you play a little bit to be in the mood that the lyrics are trying to portray, but it also gets you brownie points with the artist who (ideally) is paying you.
 

N.I.B.

Senior Member
As a listener, I've never really been one to concentrate on the lyrics - Simply put, if the singer's serenading me with a story about how his girlfriend / wife / significant other kicked him to the curb, leave me out of it. If the lyrics are fresh out of a medical dictionary (like many death metal / grindcore lyrics are), please spare me the experience of losing my lunch.

And so on and so forth...

In my electric violin ensemble this past school year, we didn't have a singer. What our main violin would do was listen to the lyrics in whatever songs we performed and recreate the melody / rhythm of the singer on her violin, so I never had to listen to the lyrics to find a beat.

Then again...what exactly I did last year is something I'm trying to repress! ;)
 
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BassDriver

Silver Member
Do lyrics make a big difference to you guys as well?
Yes, I like the lyrical component to music very much, but I like instrumental music aswell.

While people like lyrics because lyrics convey meaning to them, I think instrumental music still conveys meaning.

Lyrics that are especially surrealist, humorous, cryptic, and well delivered (all at once) I like very much. That is part of my appreciation of artists like System of a Down and Frank Zappa.
 
As far as songs I listen to on my own time, I like music with any lyrics I can relate to. If I hear a song, and reminds me of myself, if it's politically charged. But most of fall, if I hear a song, and it triggers my mind to think of a certain time in my life, then it's probably a hit in my book.

As far as music I play, I can't read music or tabs. So for me the song writing process consists of matching a drum beat with the bass rhythm. And then as I go and memorize the song I'll do fills and such. For the simpler songs, this often means I have to listen to the lyrics to know where certain parts are.
 

shadowlorde

Senior Member
The screamo death metal lyrics...I'm sorry but I can't decipher that stuff, the drumming can't be particularly sensitive to the lyrics in most songs in that genre IMO. That wouldn't work well anyway, metal drumming, to me, is supposed to be very aggressive and not sensitive (except perhaps in the slower power ballad type stuff).
So when Shadowlorde commented on how the singer "spews" words, initially I was a little let down that another drummer writes the lyrics off as not important...but then I remembered that his genre is metal. Metal has it's own rules it seems and my defense of lyrics doesn't really mean much to a metal drummer, because the drumming is so physically intense, and is largely disconnected from the singer. This is just my limited view of metal, I don't play or listen to it, so forgive me if I painted w/ too broad a stroke.

.
maybe my thoughts on lyrics are based on how the several bands i've been in and out of in the past years wrote songs ... instrument parts were always written first and lyrics were always an after thought. .. the melody line of the vocals always was made with the instruments and the words came later. my usual thing is that if I like the way the song is sung i'll check out the lyrics .. don't talk to strangers by dio is a great example ... porcupine tree, anything blind guardian. as far as death metal goes i couldn't give a flying F what the singer is gurgling about .. i'm listening for the instruments


http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=u_tORtmKIjE .. i love blind guardian .. and hansi kursch's voice .. they are very lord of the rings in their lyrics though ( *edit* listen to the vocal line in that song and tell me it wouldn't work just as well with an instrument playing the vocal melody line instead of having words.. that is what i'm getting at with interesting melody being what I first listen to .. )
 

Fuo

Platinum Member
95% of the time I don't care WHAT the lyrics are, but I do care about HOW they're sung. The only time I care about what the words are are when they're really good, or really bad.
 

Pollyanna

Platinum Member
Hal Blaine: To come up with the right hit-making drum beat for each recording, Mr. Blaine insisted on hearing a group sing through a song first, often backed by just a piano. "A song is a story, and I wanted to hear how the lyrics were phrased and where the drama was," he said. "Then I'd add a beat and sound that snapped."

http://online.wsj.com/article/SB10001424052748703858404576214574291829718.html
I enjoyed that link, Unfunk. I especially like that quote from HB.


95% of the time I don't care WHAT the lyrics are, but I do care about HOW they're sung. The only time I care about what the words are are when they're really good, or really bad.
I relate to that. One thing about instrumental music - it's never spoiled by trite lyrics. I'd like to strangle Ian Gillan (slowly) for putting such teenage jerkoff lyrics to the brilliant music of Highway Star.
 

Numberless

Platinum Member
It really depends, some bands can get away with bad/silly lyrics. Into Eternity is a great example:

"Separate the anguish, separate this fear
separate from sadness, now I see things much to clear"

Looks like something a 13 year old would write over his first breakup but the melody is so much fun to sing along to that I just don't really care.

Other bands I really need the lyrics to get a full appreciation of the music, Agalloch and Pain of Salvation are fine examples of this. Punk/hardcore music in general puts emphasis on the message of the lyrics than the musicality so I pay attention accordingly.

In death metal and heavier types of music with distorted vocals, sometimes the lyrics take a backseat and just serve as another instrument to complement the rest of the band, but as always, there are some solid exceptions, Lykathea Aflame's Elvenefris is a brutal death metal album (with amazing drumming) with great lyrics about finding our inner selves, helping others and generally being happy (I'm being completely serious) and August Burns Red (a Christian metalcore band) pens great hymns about their positive beliefs in a not preachy, condescending way. In both cases you can't understand a word they're saying but looking up the lyrics really enhances the overall feel of the music.

In any case, I love singing along so I almost always look up the lyrics to all the music I enjoy.
 

BassDriver

Silver Member
It is interesting to find out what you think about listening to music with lyrics in a different language.

they are very lord of the rings in their lyrics though ( *edit* listen to the vocal line in that song and tell me it wouldn't work just as well with an instrument playing the vocal melody line instead of having words.. that is what i'm getting at with interesting melody being what I first listen to .. )
Many folk metal bands are similar to that...

...but I really enjoy the whole atmosphere of epicness in folk metal even if the lyrics are cheezy...

...like this:

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=fyvPe0uqjjY&feature=related

So really one of the best ways to listen to music is to be immersed in the whole thing...maximum enjoyment.

...lyrics are still important but they are just one small thing in a songwriters toolbox.

There are still songs that will send a chill down my spine if I listen to them again, they can be instrumental or they can have lyrics.
 
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