Why Can I Only Write Sad Songs?

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« on: February 06, 2018, 07:35:58 PM »
I've tried writing with major chords and I can make a major rhythm but when it comes to the lyric process it all seems to sound minor. Am I singing out of tune? Is it just my ear that makes me want to write minor sounding songs? Should I experiment with different keys? If so please can you comment some for me. Thanks :)


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« Reply #1 on: February 06, 2018, 08:01:24 PM »
Why don't you choose one of your songs; one you put together with major chords but which came out sounding sad. Post it on one of the feedback boards, like maybe "Finished Songs", and mention you're trying to figure out what's happening to make it sound sad. Ask pretty much the way you did here but just make it about the one song. Choose one that clearly represents the problem you're havinf.


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« Reply #2 on: February 09, 2018, 09:35:39 PM »
I agree with CaliaMoko that it would be easier if you had a song example recorded. Is it the vocal melody or the lyrical content that concerns you?

Individual style can have a lot of different characteristics. Preferred rhythms, melodies, chord sequences.
Have you tried to sing both 'happy' and 'sad' lyrics to the same melody?

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« Reply #3 on: February 09, 2018, 10:03:48 PM »
It's not that easy to understand your question. I wonder if you're using the words minor and major slightly out of context? There's more to major and minor than happy or sad. For example, this major chord progression: C, F, G will sound upbeat on its own. But it's entirely possible to create a sad melody over it. But it won't be a minor melody. And if it is, it will probably sound very wrong with those chords.

Likewise I do believe it's possible to create a happy song with some minor chords although it's more difficult than the other way around.

As for lyrics and rhythm, they're another thing altogether.

If you're stuck in a rut writing sad songs, maybe you haven't got to the bottom of all the sad things you want to say yet? Maybe you're just used to writing those things and have formed a habit. This can be hard to break - I know because I've been there myself, and had to force myself to use major chords where I normally wouldn't. Even with those major chords, my songs tend heavily toward the melancholy.

Without hearing your music or reading your words, it's not possible to give much better advice than this. But if you want to starkly hear the difference between one of your songs and a major, happy song, compare your song with Pharrell's Happy. Take it apart, see how it works, and try to apply the knowledge to your own writing. You never know where it might take you.

One last observation: there's nothing wrong with sadness. It's what you do with it that counts. If your songs are all tip quality, people will like them whether they're happy or sad. So you've got to allow a certain degree of being yourself if your songs are going to carry any authenticity. Don't forget to have fun with it.
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« Reply #4 on: February 12, 2018, 09:13:00 AM »
I think this information is something to know.


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« Reply #5 on: February 12, 2018, 01:38:00 PM »
I think this is pretty normal. Sad songs usually feel more serious and artistic, and with happy topics it's easier to sound superficial or cliched. And there tends to be a lot more nuance and different ways to describe unhappy (Was it Tolstoy that said "Happy families are all alike; every unhappy family is unhappy in its own way."?).

Very happy to hear (and produce) more sad songs! We had a Happy Song competition a while back and I think most of us found it really hard...

On the minor-major thing, I heard (and it's true) that a lot of soul songs (motown, stax that sort of era) use exclusively major chords, no matter whether they fit in with the normal key of the song. It gives a different feel but there's still quite a mix of sad and happy themes.

As an aside (based on no science whatsoever) I find that I gravitate to 6/8 or similar time sigs when I'm writing something melancholy. I think there can be something more dirgey about those beats... (maybe because so far removed from anything danceable in a disco?)

I'd probably just go with the flow. If you like sad, then do sad...


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« Reply #6 on: February 16, 2018, 01:50:50 PM »
Hi Ross

I'm not sure how a lyric can sound minor, what do you mean?



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« Reply #7 on: March 26, 2018, 09:05:40 PM »
For me I reckon sad songs are much easier to write.
You go off into a room on your own and think deeply about stuff, you are much more likely to come up with something sad or at least introspective.

Writing upbeat, happy songs is really hard because the way most of us write isn't suited to it.
If you are having a great time you don't think "I'll just disappear on my own into a quiet place and write a song".

Like I say, it's hard to do so don't feel bad if you find it hard.
Major chords and really try to think about the good times when you sit down to write.

Good luck with it!



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« Reply #8 on: March 26, 2018, 11:58:15 PM »
I once got told to go get some help by a worried friend because I wrote so many sad songs. I had to assure her I was actually a happy-go-lucky person and wasn't about to reach for the razor blade... I just find those songs easier to write, I suppose, and they tend to lend themselves to more emotional lyrics/feelings.

Probably 90-95% of my songs are sad/poignant.
Then darkness fell
As the 1st God and the 2nd burned in hell
And all alone
Stood the 3rd God looking wearied to the bone

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« Reply #9 on: March 27, 2018, 09:17:55 AM »
Was watching Amanda Shires the other day and she said to the audience something like “do you want the one about cancer or the one about suicide? (general amusement) I wrote a happy song once but I just don’t play it...”


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« Reply #10 on: May 01, 2018, 03:58:24 PM »
Consciously Processing sadness takes more determination.
If you turn to songwriting with that in mind, it's likely you'll get a sad song. 

I find that many and myself don't take time out when they're happy.
It can be done but I'd have to work quickly or in spurts.

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It's either this or that, then again it might be the other. 

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