Friday, December 19, 2014

Zoltan Bathory talks about songwriting with Ultimate Guitar

Ultimate Guitar interviewed Zoltan Bathory, below you can read an excerpt:
Everybody wants fast food and instant downloads. 
Zoltan: The music today has to conclude within five minutes. I'm not saying it's a hardcore rule but that's just where songs generally are today. There was a time when it was different but that's the way it is today. 

You do try and stay within that five-minute framework? 
We're sort of staying in that format. Like, "OK. Whatever you have to say, you have to say it in that timeframe." But you do have to have a structure and songs - both lyrics and music - that are speaking to people. It has to make you feel something. There are so many of these criteria we are definitely aware of so that part is conscious. I can write a song and without the vocals even being on it, again I'm going to reach back to the classical music. Those classical writers had to tell you a story without a vocalist. 

That becomes your reference point? 
Yeah. Musically I have to say something before even the lyrics are on this song and think, "Can you do that?" Then you take the same exact riff by a guitarist and you change the drum beat. Let's say you put a drum beat on it so the snare is a little bit ahead of the time and just a little bit pushing. Right? That guitarist will ultimately create a feel of anxiety. Or rush. You know what I mean? That's the psychological effect of it. 

If I put the beat exactly square on the guitarist, then you're gonna have almost like a marching or a military feel to it. If you make it a little bit lazy like a shuffle and the snare comes behind the beat, you're gonna have a feeling of, "Well, it's kind of groove-y or a relaxed kind of thing." 

A shuffle definitely has that kind of laid-back feel. A fan may not understand what that is but they'll feel it. 
Feel it. Exactly. Those are all psychological effects you get with one single guitarist by changing how the beats relate to that particular riff. I just changed how it made you feel. So when you write a song, yeah, maybe you can play a million notes a second but that doesn't mean anything. That mechanical knowledge of if you sit in a room and play a guitar long enough, you will acquire that knowledge but that's not songwriting. Songwriting you have to understand these minute things: how does this music make you feel? Then once you have that picture, you write lyrics that relates to it. 

Click here to read the full interview.

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