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Thread: Does a bandís lyricist typically come up with melodies as well?

  1. #1
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    Question Does a bandís lyricist typically come up with melodies as well?

    I just discovered an underground band from my area that recently released an EP on indie record label. On that EP, I found something peculiar about the songwriting credits.

    All the music is credited to the entire band, while all the lyrics AND all the melodies are credited to the bandís lead singer.

    I thought that the creation of melodies (as well as harmonies, rhythms, riffs, and chord progressions) are part of the entirety of musical composition. And I thought that a band lyricist just generated the words.

    How can a band have its lyricist credit himself with all the melodies?

    How can a bandís lead singer come up with BOTH the lyrics and the melodies at the same time?

    Isnít musical composition considered a complete package consisting of melodies, harmonies, rhythms, riffs, and chord progressions?

    If an entire band is credited with the musical composition, shouldnít the whole band come up with all the melodies as well during the songwriting process?

    Any professional songwriters here care to give some input?

  2. #2
    The Force is weak in ^^ mezzio's Avatar
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    Billy Corgan did it quite a bit.... so did Lars Ulrich, and he's not even a singer.

    There are people out there capable of composing every bit of a song, it happens. There's bands out there who work together to create music, and there's people out there who just need a band to play their music.

  3. #3
    Quote Originally Posted by Jericho-79 View Post
    I thought that the creation of melodies (as well as harmonies, rhythms, riffs, and chord progressions) are part of the entirety of musical composition.
    A song can consist of only the melody. Or it can include some or all of the above elements. It's also possible for the creators of certain elements in a recording of the composition to contribute recognizable parts, such riffs, and still not share in the copyright. A good example is the organ riff in "Like A Rolling Stone," a very recognizable hook created by All Kooper, who didn't share in the royalties. To this day Ginger Baker claims that the beat he created completely changed "Sunshine of Your Love" as a composition, but he received no writing credit for it and was thus not entitled to share in the copyright.

    Musicians whose contribution to a work was for hire also do not share in the copyright. Session players typically enter into "work for hire" agreements, as do sidemen.

    People whose contribution is rhythm or even a solo are in general not credited with a song unless the other contributors want them credited. The Beatles are a good example; Lennon-McCartney tunes did not credit Ringo and George, whose rhythm and solo work were certainly part of what most listeners would consider the "song" but that is really only the recording of the song. For the most part, the copyrights to the recordings ("masters") are owned by the record label.

    The composition and the recording are two separate and distinct works and represent two copyrights.

    Quote Originally Posted by Jericho-79 View Post
    And I thought that a band lyricist just generated the words.
    A lyricist generates words. But a lyricist can reserve 100% credit for the lyrics and yet share in the composition. The copyright office recognizes these as separate elements.

    Quote Originally Posted by Jericho-79 View Post
    Isn’t musical composition considered a complete package consisting of melodies, harmonies, rhythms, riffs, and chord progressions?
    Sometimes. But the creators of a work can agree among themselves how the work is to be credited and how earnings are to be divided. In fact, it isn't necessary that a person receiving credit on a song do anything specific, or do as much as someone else. And sometimes major contributors to a work are people whose contribution was a "work for hire," meaning that they do not share in the copyright at all.

    There are no set rules to the division of these elements. Everything is considered on a case by case basis in the event of a legal dispute. This is why smart content creators put everything in writing for each song, including percentages for royalty splits. That way there are fewer later disagreements that can't be resolved.
    Last edited by LSchefman; 07-06-2014 at 04:55 PM.
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    Then you have U2 which for a period split the song royalties five ways (Mgr. Paul McGuinness being the fifth U2).

  5. #5
    Quote Originally Posted by NomadMike View Post
    Then you have U2 which for a period split the song royalties five ways (Mgr. Paul McGuinness being the fifth U2).
    Yes. The point is, there are no rules about how it's done. People make their own deals any way they like.
    I saw ten thousand talkers whose tongues were all broken...

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  6. #6
    Name Manglin' Putz alantig's Avatar
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    Les and I have a pretty equitable deal worked out. He does all the writing, recording and playing, and he takes 100% of the money and fame.

    Seems fair.
    Alan

    "I watched approximately 45 seconds of 'Rock Of Ages'. It was like getting punched in the soul." - Abby Krizner

  7. #7
    Quote Originally Posted by alantig View Post
    Les and I have a pretty equitable deal worked out. He does all the writing, recording and playing, and he takes 100% of the money and fame.

    Seems fair.
    Haha! No fame involved. I've been waiting for 25 years for a breathless, excited woman to run up to me on the street for an autograph.

    Never gonna happen!
    I saw ten thousand talkers whose tongues were all broken...

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  8. #8
    Name Manglin' Putz alantig's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by LSchefman View Post
    Haha! No fame involved. I've been waiting for 25 years for a breathless, excited woman to run up to me on the street for an autograph.

    Never gonna happen!
    Would you settle for a sweaty, out-of-breath fat man in a guitar factory parking lot? You'll have to wait for the next Experience...
    Alan

    "I watched approximately 45 seconds of 'Rock Of Ages'. It was like getting punched in the soul." - Abby Krizner

  9. #9
    Quote Originally Posted by alantig View Post
    Would you settle for a sweaty, out-of-breath fat man in a guitar factory parking lot? You'll have to wait for the next Experience...
    Well, that would be a first.

    And yes.
    I saw ten thousand talkers whose tongues were all broken...

    Website: http://www.elfxi.com

  10. #10
    Senior Member solacematt's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by mezzio View Post
    Billy Corgan did it quite a bit.... so did Lars Ulrich, and he's not even a singer.

    There are people out there capable of composing every bit of a song, it happens. There's bands out there who work together to create music, and there's people out there who just need a band to play their music.
    That's because Corgan is an absolute musical god. But I digress, he is my hero as well so I may be a bit biased

    I don't know, in my band I suppose I'm the BC as well. I think with many cases it's the fact that there is one person who gets a vision of where the song can go and they interpret those ideas, or in this case, the melodies to the rest of the band or even come up with it and show the band. They're like hey that's cool and it goes from there and works.
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