Song Construction Kits

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Leee
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2017/08/17 00:00:41 (permalink)

Song Construction Kits

I'm wondering how many people purchase and make use of Song Construction Kits, like those found at Big Fish Audio.
These kits can contain anything from drum or piano parts, to fully realized songs that provide individual tracks for each instrument, along with sections of the song broken down into verse, pre-chorus, chorus, bridge, etc.  In these kits you can use all of the instruments and just add vocals, or pick and choose certain tracks and parts.

I've done combinations running from just one individual bass line, to using all the instruments (and perhaps adding an organ part)
Out of about 80 songs I've written, maybe 1/4 makes use of some percentage of a construction kit, or piano parts provided by EZKeys.

My question is, Do you consider this cheating?  Or more like a collaboration with an anonymous writer who contributed to these construction kits?  Many people use pre-written drum tracks or beats (broken into verse, chorus, etc.) provided by many virtual drum plugins like EZDrummer, Superior Drummer, or Addictive Drums.  However these song construction kits take it several steps further by providing other instrument tracks.  You can use as much or as little in your song.   I find this a great way to get a song started when I'm having trouble with writer's block.  But no matter how much I use of one of these kits, I'll always add at least one instrument part of my own, along with my own vocal (melody) track.  That way I can at least take some credit in writing the song.

But if I use too many tracks from these kits, I feel a bit guilty by putting my name as the songwriter of that particular song.
I almost wish they provided the names of the people who write these kits, so I can give them co-writing credits.

Any thoughts about the use of these Construction Kits?

Here's one of the Construction Kits I own and have made use of:
http://www.bigfishaudio.c...08;I512872;B60::530904

Lee Shapiro
80+ Songs written using Sonar at:
www.soundclick.com/leeshapiro
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    DrLumen
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    Re: Song Construction Kits 2017/08/17 00:49:02 (permalink)
    There was a similar thread a few months back. You may want to search for it.
     
    IMS, and to paraphrase, the purists will think it is cheating whereas the amateurs (for lack of a better word) will think it is perfectly normal.
     
    When I first got Acid and was piling up loops to make songs I would not claim them as my own. Some I think were pretty good but I just didn't feel right about claiming them. A kid DJ would probably jump at the chance to claim them (not mine necessarily but their own compilations). I'm not making any judgement call for those that do. To each their own. I thought of it really more as arranging than composing.
     
    I found that I could use the acid compilations for ideas but would not use the actual loops - except for the drum loops. This would tend to get me out of the mechanical and wrote process and allowed me to make them more "mine".
     
    Just my $.02
     
    PS: As an anecdotal example.
     
    Back when the family got an organ for the house, there was this function that Kimball called Magic Chords. With one finger it would have a drum track, rhythmed chords, arpeggios and such with 1 finger. One could them play the melody (usually with one finger :) ). Yes, it was playing technically if albeit 2 keys at a time. I always felt that was cheating a bit too and taught myself the chords and rhythms to avoid using Magic Chords. Not that using them sounded bad but not much "playing" was done.

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    #2
    Kalle Rantaaho
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    Re: Song Construction Kits 2017/08/17 07:13:19 (permalink)
    If really whole verses, choruses, intros etc. are from a construction kit, that's a bit too much for me. Even if you add some original stuff.  Using just a bass-line, on the other hand, or a drum track, would be easy for me to swallow. Whether you call it cheating or something else, depends fully on how you use the finished music and how much credit is gathered to the "composer".
    I can see many uses, where such a method (relying solely on construction kits) is quite acceptable to me and simply practical. Like in educational purposes, marketing ..you name it.
     
    Then again, if we're talking about the kind of stuff that the person could without difficulty produce by him/herself, and kits are used just to save time...well...grey zone...

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    Rob[at]Sound-Rehab
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    Re: Song Construction Kits 2017/08/17 10:58:22 (permalink)
    Leee

    Any thoughts about the use of these Construction Kits?




    It's the cheap version of paying someone to carry you up Mount Everest. If that's what you need and it makes you happy, then this is it for you.

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    #4
    soens
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    Re: Song Construction Kits 2017/08/17 13:10:36 (permalink)
    The world is full of cheaters... Unless you stand out in a crowd, no one will notice you.
     
    Am I cheating if I buy a ready made sandwich for lunch instead of making my own?! For it to be truely my own I would have to plant the seeds, grow the wheat, lettuce and tomatoes, make the bread, raise the pig and process it all myself before I could say "I made this". I just don't have the thyme so I cheat and buy one at Fred's. 
     
    BTW, thanks for the link.
    #5
    Voda La Void
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    Re: Song Construction Kits 2017/08/17 13:23:24 (permalink)
    Yes, it's cheating.  Ha ha, I mean you did ask.  Does it matter if you're just a hobbyist?  I don't think so.  But it does matter to me when you're trying to produce and present something to be taken seriously, as your own. 

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    #6
    Rob[at]Sound-Rehab
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    Re: Song Construction Kits 2017/08/17 15:26:12 (permalink)
    soens
    Am I cheating if I buy a ready made sandwich for lunch instead of making my own?! For it to be truely my own I would have to plant the seeds, grow the wheat, lettuce and tomatoes, make the bread, raise the pig and process it all myself before I could say "I made this". I just don't have the thyme so I cheat and buy one at Fred's. 
     

     
    First time I hear that a sandwich is a piece of art.
    What is next? Nobel prize for the best sandwich?

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    #7
    dwardzala
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    Re: Song Construction Kits 2017/08/17 15:49:00 (permalink)
    Music has no rules.  Do what makes you happy and credit those who contribute (that part might have rules.)

    Dave
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    patm300e
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    Re: Song Construction Kits 2017/08/18 11:07:07 (permalink)
    dwardzala
    Music has no rules.  Do what makes you happy and credit those who contribute (that part might have rules.)

    +1  If it feels good do it as long as you don't violate the laws and licensing!
     

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    AndyB01
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    Re: Song Construction Kits 2017/08/18 12:26:37 (permalink)
    I've been using EzKeys extensively recently to write a number of songs and without much modification to the canned tracks so anyone familiar with EzKeys would recognise them fairly quickly. I always declare the fact and I'm not trying to kid anyone that they're my piano chops.

    Now why is using EzDrummer or AD considered acceptable but using EzKeys somehow less so? Probably because many consider the accompaniment and the melody to be the heart of an original song. Well EzKeys doesn't give you a melody that's down to you (although it gives you some pretty big cues - I accept that). It also does not give you lyrics.

    For me the lyrics are the heart of a song and that's where I have been trying to focus my efforts of late. EzKeys has helped me improve the structures of my songs and to focus on becoming a better lyricist and for that reason alone I love it. Without EzKeys these songs would have probably remained unwritten. As I become a better lyricist, I can aspire to become a better all-round songwriter and musician, to the point that I'm either not using canned tracks at all or I'm mixing, matching and modifying them to the extent that they almost become original compositions.

    So I don't think it's cheating, it's all part of a musical journey of learning and discovery
    - however I do think you should declare it on your 'sleeve notes'.

    That's my 2c anyway.

    Andy

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    #10
    bapu
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    Re: Song Construction Kits 2017/08/18 13:36:28 (permalink)
    I'll use anything anytime anywhere to get a song done.
     
    I've been known to pay online talent.
     
    I'll use construction kits, MIDI drum loops, EZKeys, BIAB, strum libraries etc to get the idea across. Some songs start out that way only to have most if not all parts replaced. I even have some songs that all but vocal and bass were "composed" using any combination of those tools. I also have participated in songs (either my own or others) that were all live players.
     
    FWIW: Construction kits as I see them are live players. I've hired someone to get the ball rolling (as in the price of the kit, VSTi or MIDI).
     
    Am I cheating? No, I'm creating.
     
    cheat
    verb

  • act dishonestly or unfairly in order to gain an advantage, especially in a game or examination.
    "she always cheats at cards




  • avoid (something undesirable) by luck or skill.
    "she cheated death in a spectacular crash"
     
     





  • My name is Ed. I Am still bapu though.
     
    I'm all about the bass.
     
    A "helpful" from me typically means I laughed.
     
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    #11
    bapu
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    Re: Song Construction Kits 2017/08/18 13:38:50 (permalink)
    Also, I have a Line 6 Modeling Bass and a Line 6 JTV Variax that gets me "instruments" I don't physically own.
     
    Cheating? Not in my book.

    My name is Ed. I Am still bapu though.
     
    I'm all about the bass.
     
    A "helpful" from me typically means I laughed.
     
    My Studio (summary: Win 10 64bit, I7 2600K, Asus P8P67, RME UFX, FaderPort)
     
     
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    #12
    Slugbaby
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    Re: Song Construction Kits 2017/08/18 13:38:58 (permalink)
    I've never used a kit per se, and have usually seen it as cheating.  But that's just my own unimportant opinion.
    It's also a very grey area.  
    I'll always write my own music, but for example - i'm not a drummer.  After I've programmed the basic MIDI beat that I want, I'll often take the hi-hat line from a premade MIDI clip to add some realism.  I still consider it "my creation" even though it's not quite 100% true.
     
    Taking tiny bits and pieces is on the acceptable side, however sampling the bassline from Under Pressure and saying that you wrote Ice Ice Baby is far on the unacceptable side.
     
     

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    AT
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    Re: Song Construction Kits 2017/08/18 14:22:42 (permalink)
    I made a nice song all on my own.  Rock and sticks.  The sticks were artisan, all hand picked off the proverbial vine  I would have played the drums but I didn't kill the cow for the hide, or scrap or tan it.  That would be cheating.  And had to invent new "rock chords" so I didn't have to recycle used progressions.  The clusters cords are all unique.  The song, "Rock and sticks," ain't very interesting.  In fact, it sucks, but at least it is pure.  I didn't have to beg borrow or steal nothing, even grammar.
     
    ;-)

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    mettelus
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    Re: Song Construction Kits 2017/08/18 14:36:52 (permalink)
    bapu
    I'll use anything anytime anywhere to get a song done.
     


    That is pretty much it in a nutshell, barring any legal issues (most of the items mentioned above have none). Life is about time, so act accordingly.

    As much re-engineering as I have done in life, the focus is never to "make from scratch" but rather "deliver product." One only needs to reinvent the wheel once to realize what a massive time expenditure (read "waste of time") it is.

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    DrLumen
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    Re: Song Construction Kits 2017/08/18 18:17:50 (permalink)
    Hmm, well to take this to the next level... What about music programs like SmartSound or Cinescore? They have variations and different mixes for the variations. If you buy a "kit" it is royalty free and you can use it however you want. Would those be considered cheating? They are just the next logical step from loop kits.
     Example
     
    Again, not judging but curious where the line is for most people.

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    AndyB01
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    Re: Song Construction Kits 2017/08/18 18:42:11 (permalink)
    Yep I've used Smartsound to score video - it's like a magic trick the way it auto trims itself to fit the video track. It's preferable to breaching copyright by scoring with contemporary music tracks like so many people do.

    I agree with another poster about sampling though - not a fan - that's my red line.

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    Leee
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    Re: Song Construction Kits 2017/08/20 03:51:16 (permalink)
    Thanks for all the feedback.  As I expected there's a wide range of opinions.
    I guess I should have mentioned at the top, I'm not a professional songwriter, I post songs on SoundClick (80+ songs at this point), and make CD's with professional looking covers and booklets.  I sent my CD's to my brother and he's a very negative person who rarely compliments anyone. He surprised me when he said, "I'm really impressed".
    I asked him, "So you liked the songs?"
    He said, "No I haven't listened to them yet, I was just talking about the packaging."
    (I did do all the artwork myself)

    But I digress.  I think I mentioned about 30 - 40 percent of my songs use some kind of construction kit or EZkeys piano tracks, but I always try to make the song my own. So if someone listens to it, who is familiar with the construction kit or the EZkeys parts, I want to make it hard for them to identify with any parts that I didn't create myself.   I think I've used complete construction kits (with all the parts) only 2 or 3 times in a song.
    But again, I'm not a professional, I'm not looking to profit from my song writing.  But I am thinking of getting more and more into producing local singer-songwriters songs.  I've done that a few times with great results.  And I'm planning on advertising locally as a small studio producer to work with local talent and create fully produced, mixed and mastered songs from their piano or guitar and vocal parts.   I wouldn't be using any construction kits when producing other people's work.

    Lee Shapiro
    80+ Songs written using Sonar at:
    www.soundclick.com/leeshapiro
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    soens
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    Re: Song Construction Kits 2017/08/22 10:28:38 (permalink)
    Rob(at)Sound-Rehab
    First time I hear that a sandwich is a piece of art.
    What is next? Nobel prize for the best sandwich?



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    Joe_A
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    Re: Song Construction Kits 2017/08/23 17:13:15 (permalink)
    Ideas are where u find them.

    For instruction kits...hey just get a few Billy Joel songs and use his formats; intro verse chorus verse chorus bridge verse chorus until you have enough verses, then ending (redo the intro).
    *He'll say the same.... I remember this because I saw one of Billy's interviews and he says he mostly follows the same structure when starting to write a song.

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    soens
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    Re: Song Construction Kits 2017/08/25 06:47:20 (permalink)
    The only SCK I've ever used is Sonar!
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