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Mike B

5 SOngwriting tips you may not have thought of

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Mike B    79

1) Your songwriting rhyme scheme helps the listener keep up with where they are in the song. You want to keep the rhyme scheme consistent across all of the verses and consistent across all of the choruses if the choruses change. Not doing so makes the listener feel unsettled.

2) Your hook or title HAS to appear in one of the following places or you risk the listener not being able to tell what your title is. The title can be: 1) The last line of the verse 2) The first line of the chorus 3) The last line of the chorus 4) The third line of the chorus if it’s also the first line. If you only have the hook in one spot, it almost has to be the last line of the chorus. People are trained to look for the title in certain spots. You want them to be able to call in to a radio station and request your song, so make sure they know the title.

3) You can do half verses and half choruses. Sometimes, you need a double verse in the beginning to set the stage and establish the story. It’s ok to cut that in half the second time around. It’s probably preferable. The verses of songs are not what people remember. They want more choruses, not double verses everywhere. On the other side of the fence, sometimes you might want a short chorus the first time around and a double chorus for each subsequent chorus. That “build” is interesting and keeps the listener tuned in.

4) Don’t bore us, get to the chorus. Nobody wants to hear 6 verses. I’ve never written a song with more than 4 and I don’t believe I have ever gotten a cut that had more than 3. People want to hear the chorus. Get them there as quick as you can.

5) Clear trumps clever. Don’t give in to the idea that your song can’t survive if it’s not clever. Songs that simply say what they mean to say work time and time again. Clever songs tend to walk along the border of “Cheesemania”. One wrong move and you are fatally cheesy. Say what you mean to say. Then, make sure it’s interesting enough. First and foremost, you are a communicator. Communicating clearly is the goal.

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So you're saying I might actually be doing it right. Lol. 

I use all of these techniques in my songwriting. 

Good tips!

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chazmataz    21

Good stuff Mike. I would like to add another suggestion....keep intros short, or non-existent....don't need a minute of three boring chords.

 

Chaz

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R-N-R Jim    12
On 9/5/2017 at 19:38, Mike B said:

1) Your songwriting rhyme scheme helps the listener keep up with where they are in the song. You want to keep the rhyme scheme consistent across all of the verses and consistent across all of the choruses if the choruses change. Not doing so makes the listener feel unsettled. I guess I fail this one on a couple accounts. :huh:Though I think in some of my songs, my story lines are at least semi-entertaining enough to leave a lasting impression...or the music draws people in enough for them to want to listen a couple times to"get it". I've noticed my song "Loser" gets alot of plays in succession...Im guessing they liked the song enough to want to learn the lyrics for what they are.

 

2) Your hook or title HAS to appear in one of the following places or you risk the listener not being able to tell what your title is. The title can be: 1) The last line of the verse 2) The first line of the chorus 3) The last line of the chorus 4) The third line of the chorus if it’s also the first line. If you only have the hook in one spot, it almost has to be the last line of the chorus. People are trained to look for the title in certain spots. You want them to be able to call in to a radio station and request your song, so make sure they know the title. Another fail by me. I tend to like one word titles for my songs, though 3 is more common.:unsure:

 

 

3) You can do half verses and half choruses. Sometimes, you need a double verse in the beginning to set the stage and establish the story. It’s ok to cut that in half the second time around. It’s probably preferable. The verses of songs are not what people remember. They want more choruses, not double verses everywhere. On the other side of the fence, sometimes you might want a short chorus the first time around and a double chorus for each subsequent chorus. That “build” is interesting and keeps the listener tuned in. Ahhh...something I do half right. I like to vary verse/chorus patterns or lengths there of. I figure its kinda boring writing under the same patterns. Got leave something for the listener journey wise to explore and feel. ;)

 

4) Don’t bore us, get to the chorus. Nobody wants to hear 6 verses. I’ve never written a song with more than 4 and I don’t believe I have ever gotten a cut that had more than 3. People want to hear the chorus. Get them there as quick as you can. Darn, I failed again. I guess my song "High Water Mark" doesn't fit this mold. But is it bad that it doesn't? I guess Queen's "Bohemian Rhapsody" was a fluke then. I guess if you're  talking about cookie cutter industry standard type songs, then it's good advice to put limitations on length etc.

 

.

5) Clear trumps clever. Don’t give in to the idea that your song can’t survive if it’s not clever. Songs that simply say what they mean to say work time and time again. Clever songs tend to walk along the border of “Cheesemania”. One wrong move and you are fatally cheesy. Say what you mean to say. Then, make sure it’s interesting enough. First and foremost, you are a communicator. Communicating clearly is the goal. I fail this one alot. I guess Im sometimes guilty of leaving too much for the listener to figure out the lyrics on the first listen. But then again, I dont write commercial songs, so I think I get a pass on that one.:D

Hi M

 

  Alot of valid points on how to write commercial songs. Though I wonder why a stylistic intro wouldn't hurt for a commercial song in order to make it stand out so that the listener would be able to cue in instantly on the song when being played on the radio.etc.

  It might seem like a gimmick, but when you're competing against other writers, maybe that little ooompf of creativity might be just the thing to get an A&R person to listen beyond the 15 seconds one gets when being screened.

 

just my two cents worth

R-N-R Jim

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Mike B    79

I thought I included the credit on this, but it must not have c-and-p-ed - this came from Songtown USA.

 

Re intros:  unfortunately, with today's ADHD listeners, you can lose them if you don't grab them quickly.  SO, you can write for the masses, or not, it's always your choice!

 

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R-N-R Jim    12
20 hours ago, Mike B said:

I thought I included the credit on this, but it must not have c-and-p-ed - this came from Songtown USA.

 

Re intros:  unfortunately, with today's ADHD listeners, you can lose them if you don't grab them quickly.  SO, you can write for the masses, or not, it's always your choice!

 

Hi M

 

   I suppose the intros are up to the arranger or artist when it gets past the screeners. But if you did have a catchy intro for your demo, be it 4 seconds or longer depending what genre etc, it could go a long way in creating that vibe or anticipation that a listener cues in on.

    Granted you have to go back 25 years to find anything earth shaking in the music industry that changed anyone's mind about "something new"on a commercial level i.e. Nirvana and the whole grunge scene to get excited about. But trying something creative even on a small level might tilt the playing field just alittle.

     So...in closing, I dont expect anyone to write anything new that will exceed anyone's expectations or re-invent the wheel, but hopefully put a different hub cap on it to make it at least stand out in this cookie cutter music industry. If nobody tries to do anything "new", we all suffer malaise and "art" dies on the vine.

 

my two cents worth

R-N-R Jim

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