HOW SONGWRITERS CAN WRITE HIT MELODIES, Part 1, by Molly-Ann Leikin
After the title, the tune is the most important part of the song. The way our brains are wired, the melody is the first thing we hear. If we like it, we'll stay tuned and listen for the words. If the tune doesn't get to us, it's over.
Melodies need hooks. Without them, nobody will ever hear your work, no matter how brilliant the lyric. I know lyricists won't be happy to hear this, but it's true and knowledge is power.
In constructing a melody, there are several guidelines to follow. I recommend to all my clients, no matter where in the world they are writing, to get to the hook/chorus, within twenty-five or thirty seconds. I advise them, and you, to keep their introductions short. The intro is usually instrumental, and the song doesn't officially start until the verse begins. So keep the intro to eight bars or less. Often writers who are in love with their software wail on and on for sixteen or thirty-two bars before beginning the actual song. Don't. Eight bars are plenty. The audience will only give you a few seconds of ear time and then move on to something more accessible. You worked hard to get ‘em. Don't let ‘em get away.
If we like a melody, it usually isn't until we've heard it several times that we finally hear the words. You can write a brilliant lyric, but if it has a weak melody, nobody will ever hear any of it because the tune hasn't done its job. The function of the melody is to grab us in an unguarded, primitive, totally emotional state and hold our attention long enough for the more civilized and intellectual lyric to take hold and give us some words to sing. Leikin's Law is give them what they want. Express yourself as only you can, absolutely. You have a fingerprint as a writer that nobody else has. But don't expect a lyric to do the melody's job.
~Molly-Ann Leikin (rhymes with bacon) is a song marketing consultant in California, who, for a modest professional fee, works one-on-one to help you find the right writing partner and then helps you market your finished work to all the right people. A Eurovision finalist (American Idol in Europe), Molly is the author of "How to Write A Hit Song, Fifth edition", (June, 2008) from which this article is excerpted, and "How to Be a Hit Songwriter", both published by Hal Leonard. She has a house full of gold and platinum records plus an Emmy nomination, has written themes and songs for over four dozen TV shows and movies, including "Eight is Enough" and "Violet" that won an Oscar. From the USA and Canada, you can reach Molly, toll-free, at 800-851-6588, or from anywhere in the world, at www.songmd.com. Please note: Molly does not accept unsolicited material. © 2009 Songwriting Consultants, Ltd. For more information on the USA Songwriting Competition, please go tp: http://www.songwriting.net
Written By Molly-Ann Leikin
Here's what I look for in a musical collaboration:
l. A great idea, one I have NEVER heard before.
2. A co-writer who is as committed as I am to making great music. This isn't a hobby. It's a life.
3. What can a potential co-writer bring to the table that I can't? If I write music, how are his lyrics? Just okay? Or do they tell me something new, something I've never heard before. How are his tunes, his production chops? Passable? Or cutting edge and original? How's his voice? Will his vocal fingerprint turn heads? Y'gotta turn heads, no matter what you contribute to the project.
4. Is this potential co-writer reliable, respectful of my time and talent? And does he/she really have a magical gift to enrich the literature of music, rather than just filling up letterhead and mp3's by recycling what other people have already said/sung?
Bottom line: don't settle too easily. Honor your work. Respect what you do and never stop looking for the best people, the very best, not just the closest or the most available, on your creative team. They are out there looking for you, too.
5. Where do I find them?
Fifty times a day, every day, I hear from bands, lyricists and composers passionately looking for the missing pieces of their songs. Once I've heard what you do, in a consultation, I've been extremely lucky hooking up writing teams. When you're ready to set up a consultation, I can help you, too.
© 2009 Molly-Ann Leikin
Molly-Ann Leikin (rhymes with bacon) is a songwriting consultant in L.A. with a house full of gold and platinum records plus an Emmy nomination. She is also a Eurovision finalist (American Idol in Europe). Three of her clients have Grammy nominations, another won an Emmy and so far, 5041 others have placed their work, with Molly's help, in movies, TV, on CD's and in commercials.The author of "How To Write A Hit Song" and "How To Be A Hit Songwriter", Molly's website is www.songmd.com and her toll-free number for the USA and Canada is 800-851-6588. You can also reach her at firstname.lastname@example.org.
POLISHING YOUR SONGS LIKE A PRO By Molly-Ann Leikin
I've never experienced anything as exhilarating as being engulfed by a creative tsunami that thunders through my heart, exploding with ideas and riffs and titles and melody lines that absolutely will not let me go until I show them major respect and write them down. Usually in the middle of the night.
Sometimes I "get" what I think at the time is a whole melody, a complete lyric, with the bridge. I hear the drums and strings, too. And I think to myself, self, Mozart has nothin' on me, baby. I am truly the genius' genius. And I'm guesting on CNN tonight to tell Larry King. He really ought to know.
But after coming back to my inspiration draft a few hours or days later, I usually find that what I've actually got is a good beginning, not a Grammy contender. Not yet.
That's when I start baking corn muffins, vacuuming the carpet and taking long walks up steep hills to find the rest of my new song.
It usually arrives in pieces.
So will yours.
The biggest mistake developing songwriters make is confusing a first draft, no matter how dramatic its arrival, with a finished one. It's your job as a tunesmith to combine the craft of songwriting with your natural gifts. Then, and only then, will you create work that is realistically competitive with all the very best songs out there.
Chapters 1-11 of my book, "How To Be a Hit Songwriter," are bursting with quick, easy solutions for strengthening your lyrics and music. Same with chapters 1-4 of "How To Write A Hit Song". Both books are available in paperback at www.songmd.com.
© 2009 Molly-Ann Leikin
Molly-Ann Leikin (rhymes with bacon) is a songwriting consultant in L.A. with a house full of gold and platinum records plus an Emmy nomination. She is also a Eurovision finalist (American Idol in Europe). Three of her clients have Grammy nominations, another won an Emmy and so far, 5041 others have placed their work, with Molly's help, in movies, TV, on CD's and in commercials.The author of "How To Write A Hit Song" and "How To Be A Hit Songwriter",
Molly's website is www.songmd.com and her toll-free number for the USA and Canada is 800-851-6588. You can also reach her at email@example.com For more information on the USA Songwriting Competition, please go tp: http://www.songwriting.net