Beyonce: I don't play any instrument, I have writers that I write with, or I have writers that will send me a full song, and I'll rearrange it - change the second verse, change the melody, keep a chord that I like, and recreate it. Just depends. I might bring in whoever I think can help the song. When I have just a beat it's the most fun for me. I'll get somebody to play whatever I hum for the bassline. So I'm creating a whole track with my voice.
With this, I begin this entry. In my last entry, I explained how the songwriting process is in regards to how collaborative it is, especially in the mainstream aspect of the industry. I also explained how arrangements, especially vocal arrangements factor in because songwriting is much more than lyric writing. Now, what I will do is show the things that Beyoncé has said in terms of the songwriting process with her songs.
One of the things that kills me when discussions of this nature happen is that she steals credits from "poor defenseless producers or songwriters" to make her look good or to have more money. That's the dumbest, most stupid thing I have ever heard. Especially considering that in pretty much every Beyoncé song, leans heavily on vocal arrangements especially harmonies. In fact, I can think of only two songs where there aren't any harmonies at all from her. Still in Love(Kissing You) and Fever(her second version, not her first version).
Anyways, as you can see from the quote, in her explanation of her songwriting, she emphasizes her arrangements mainly. For example her article in the Guardian, talks about the difference in arrangements on I am CD as opposed to Sasha Fierce: I did a lot of things differently this time with my album. A lot of it was [recorded] live, less production with the vocals, I didn't do as many arrangements... that was with the I Am side. Then with the Sasha Fierce side, I tried to do things that were, sonically, a little more modern and a little more electronic. A little bit. But still mixed in with my drum loops.
That's her lane and gift as a musician among other things. And as she said, she get full songs sent to her from producers and she will arrange them as she sees fit. Exhibit A: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=234aEjIvKPM (Irreplaceable). This is one of the controversial topics ever since Neyo spoke on how he did the lyrics and then explained what he meant on Concrete Loop later. He himself also said that Bey did Harmonic Arrangements and melody changes (http://concreteloop.com/interviews-neyo) while Stargate added to that saying that she also added drums (http://www.mtv.com/news/articles/1580808/20080201/knowles_beyonce.jhtml). We all have heard the Irreplaceable, the finished product that is and anyone that is unbias can see what Beyoncé did to bring that song life. It's part of makes a great vocal arrangments, a great vocal arranger. She also made it rhythmically better, especially in her phrasing and the production of it melody wise.
Then we have Exhibit B: (http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=QvrLUpGDX30) This is for all who don't know is the Halo demo done by Ryan Tedder. Even Ryan himself said that he didn't know that Bey would change the key of the song. And he himself said, "The greatest singers each have their own 'thing' that they do better than anyone else. Beyonce's thing is taking a great song and making it an event. She adds her own personality and vocal prowess like a master chef adds the missing ingredient to his signature dish. Beyonce brings that missing ingredient." Now listen to the Halo that we hear on the radio: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=dC06CMBQLM0 We all know about the key change. Listen to the harmonic arrangements and the differences in them. Also, she scrapped the 3rd verse that was on Ryan's Demo. And emphasized the Bridge more to make up for the 3rd verse that was gone.
Finally we have Exhibit C: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=jwe2Za87WrQ Resentment. This is Victoria Beckham's version. Actually Jazmine Sullivan also tackled this song (http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=2WfWquoVum0&feature=related), but it is on Beyoncé's album, B'day. Though I like both versions, Bey's superior IMO (http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=hAI8R3l8YE8) because of the harmonic arrangments, the key and melody changes as well as the chord changes. In fact, Bey called it her best vocal performance on the album because of the chord changes in an interview almost 4 years ago when the album was in progress. So for these things alone, she gets credit because any changes done toward the arrangements, are consideed part of the co-write. An example of this is DC's version of Silent Night. We ALL KNOW that she didn't write the original lyrics to the song, but their arrangement is obviously not the same as the original. Guess what? It's for THEIR VERSION OF SILENT NIGHT that Bey gets credit in terms of the arrangement which I have already said is part of song-writing.
Now with that being said, there is many more that I must say. As I have said, Bey's signature sound is harmonic arrangements. Ever since she has been a solo artist, she uses her own voice (not using background singers) to produce those sounds. They sometimes start in the beginning of songs, like Me, Myself and I: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=UdHkG_bCM5A Not to mention, Bey loves to use them in the bridge of songs to buildup to the climax of the song. Ring The Alarm is a perfect example of this: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=k2LzOBc9FaM and Freekum Dress is another: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Tjx6FhKbPRk
In fact, there was a controversy about her writing Crazy in Love. Rich Harrison said that he wrote most of the song, but left the bridge for her:
Unpleasant reminders of the night before notwithstanding, Harrison stepped up and wrote the verses and the hook, leaving the bridge for Beyoncé (http://www.mtv.com/news/articles/1484784/20040203/knowles_beyonce.jhtml) Well, guess what the bridge is made up of? Harmonic Arrangements. LOL!!!!!
As for Bey she has always been honest about these things. She said that when she was young, her greatest joy was arranging the harmonies for DC and choreographing their dance steps. Not to mention, she did say that she has writers that she write with. Also, in an interview when she was asked whether she would do everything by herself. She said that she would not because in her words: You know alot of other people wrote some of the songs on this album (IASF) and I love being around great writers because I'm finding that alot of things I want to say, I dont articulate as good as maybe Amanda Ghost." And look what at Amanda Ghost concerning their composition of Ave Maria together: 'I think she's selling herself a bit short there. I think she's had huge experiences - but they've been bizarre ones that you or I couldn't imagine. The challenge of being a songwriter is to take your life experience and make it universal, so that everybody else relates. She keeps the Jay-Z references ambiguous, but music is the one place she can be incredibly expressive - look at the lyrics to the track Ave Maria. We were talking about how much we loved the Schubert Ave Maria. We had both recently got married, and it turned out we had both come up the aisle to that song. So I said wouldn't it be great to try and rewrite it. And the lyric is very much about her. She talks about being surrounded by friends but she's alone: "How can the silence seem so loud?" and then "There's only us when the lights go down". I think that's probably the most personal line on the whole album about her and Jay, because they are very real, and they're very much in love, and it must be pretty tough to have that love when you're incredibly famous. http://www.telegraph.co.uk/culture/music/3563004/Beyonce-dream-girl.html
In closing, Beyoncè admits to collaboration with regards to lyric writing, composes, arranges and vocal produces. She has never, ever lied when it comes to this. She has never said that I wrote songs all by myself especially as a solo artist. She has her hand in everything because she's involved in everything. Every one she works with says the same thing and I will post this in my last entry on this topic. Have a great weekend to all who read this blog.