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FDP Forum / Tin Pan Alley - Songwriting / Returning Old Member Looking For Advice (longish)


Eastern MA

Jun 4th, 2014 11:13 AM   Edit   Profile  

Hi guys. I was a regular here from about 2000 to 2005. I got cancer in 2006 and after that I lost interest in playing and moved onto other things.

I have a blog related to cancer and people have told me that I write well and should consider writing a book. I don't think I have an entire book in me, but I do think I have a few songs in me and have already laid down a few words.

Right now all that remains of my guitar gear is a little parlor guitar that I kept in case I ever needed it. I now need it.

I won't have any trouble with the lyrics, but I have never written songs and have one specific question. Before I ask the question, this compilation of songs will not be the typical "man beats cancer" inspirational variety. I want it to be dark and convey the fear and suffering involved with being diagnosed with cancer, enduring chemo and then post cancer life with permanent injuries from chemo. There may be a couple of uplifting lines here and there, but my goal is to convey the scary parts that people generally are uncomfortable talking about, that for me was a reality.

The question... It's been so long since I've played that I've forgotten much of what I learned. Are there any sort of "standard" dark progressions that I can use? I say progressions because as you know, a dark chord has less meaning without a reference point. I do need examples of dark chords too, but also progressions.

I say "standard" because I don't want to rip off someones music or signature licks. When you play a 1 4 5 blues nobody is going to accuse you of ripping off someones music. Is there sort of the same type of progression for dark music?

Thanks a bunch.

Contributing Member

I am not a complete

idiot - I have several pieces missing!
Jun 4th, 2014 12:35 PM   Edit   Profile  

Moving from 1-4-5 to 1-3b-4 is a bit darker. Also move into minor keys and employ an occasional blue note in the vocal line.

In a minor key you could try the 1m-6b-7-1m loop.

All the best to you with your music and everything else.


Eastern MA

Jun 5th, 2014 10:04 AM   Edit   Profile  


This is sort of the sound I'm looking for.

Te 52

Laws of Physics

strictly enforced
Jun 5th, 2014 04:56 PM   Edit   Profile  

Try writing your melodies entirely, or almost entirely, using the minor pentatonic scale (Notes A C D E G A in A minor).


Eastern MA

Jun 5th, 2014 05:42 PM   Edit   Profile  

What's the banjo up to in the background of the above tune? Especially at the very end of the song. I'm just wondering if he's doing anything unusual or just a minor scale. There's also at least one other instrument doing dark things in there. It's what I'm trying to achieve.

Sorry for questions that seem simple but I was an intermediate player at best back in 2005 and haven't done anything musically since then so I'm almost starting from scratch, but not quite. I think when I get to the point of actually playing I'll start to remember some things but right now I'm just putting down lyrics.

Contributing Member

I am not a complete

idiot - I have several pieces missing!
Jun 5th, 2014 05:59 PM   Edit   Profile  

The banjo is just alternating and (sort of) arpeggiating the closing chord.

The chorus pattern can be played as either 1-2-6m or 1m-4-1m. The 1-2-6m matches better to the melody line.


Eastern MA

Jun 6th, 2014 11:47 AM   Edit   Profile  

Thanks a lot. I will be taking out my guitar this weekend to start re-learning how to play and this will give me a good place to start. I have three songs written down and need to embellish them a bit, but I think I can start playing with sounds as I continue putting down words. In the end, I'm envisioning a sound that combines Cash American Series style with modern rhyming techniques. So, Cash meets Eminem. :-)

FDP Forum / Tin Pan Alley - Songwriting / Returning Old Member Looking For Advice (longish)

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