Songwriting Tips, News & More

[EXPERT SONGWRITING ADVICE] Writing About Current Events from a Different Perspective

Posted by Jessica Brandon on Tue, Apr 14, 2020 @07:00 AM

 by Sara Light

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“With history piling up so fast, almost every day is the anniversary of something awful.” – Writer & Artist, Joe Brainard

Recently, while cleaning out my closet, I happened upon a small book of Daily Meditations given to me by a friend a long time ago called The Promise of a New Day (copyright 1983). The book goes through each day of the year and offers a quote and a short spiritual reflection.  I hadn’t opened this book in well over a decade, but last week I found myself turning to the February 7th meditation which begins with the quote at the top of this page. 

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At first I was surprised to read this quote from the 1980’s that felt so relevant for today’s world. But then I realized that in every decade, at every point in history change is inevitable, and with change comes discomfort, fear, anger, and as the quote says, “the anniversary of something awful.” Artist, Joe Brainard, who is quoted above, died in 1994 of AIDS. Can we take a moment of pause to reflect on how incredibly scary and sad that time in our history was until, thank goodness, we found a treatment for HIV?  Our amazing scientific and medical community created an antidote to something horrific.  

Obviously, as writers and artists, we have a responsibility to reflect the trouble in the world around us as songwriters like Woodie Guthrie and Bob Dylan did in the 1960’s. But can’t we also create an antidote to the daily assault of awful news? If history is comprised of times of trouble, war, disease, hunger, and hate, isn’t it just as important to highlight the love, compassion, simple moments of trust, help, hope, and success?

As a songwriting exercise, try making a list of the little things that have kept you motivated, inspired, happy, or brought you peace of mind, during these difficult times. Kissing your loved one good night, scratching your dog’s tummy, taking a walk near a stream, sipping on a hot cup of coffee, holding open a door for a stranger and exchanging a smile. Keep a section in your “title book” or idea journal specifically for a daily dose of positivity. See if you can practice a heightened awareness for the good things that we often take for granted like a compliment from a friend, being in the fast line at the grocery store, having enough gas in your car, birds chirping when you open your door, or a warm coat when it’s cold outside. Write it all down.  These specifics will inform your lyric with a universal theme of gratitude and  provide a different perspective on our current events. Bring this perspective into your next song.

SaraLight

Sara Light has been writing professionally in Nashville since 1996 and had served as a staff songwriter for Zamalama Music and Curb Magnatone Music Publishing. Her credits include the John Michael Montgomery title track and the hit single "Home To You" which received an ASCAP airplay award in addition to being named SESAC song of the year for having garnered 2 million spins on radio. She also composed songs for the musical "Urban Cowboy" which opened on Broadway in March 2003 and was nominated for a Tony Award for Best Original Score. Check out SongU at:  https://www.songu.com/

For information on the 25th Annual USA Songwriting Competition, go to: https://www.songwriting.net

 
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Tags: songwriter, song writer, song write, Song writing, Chorus, Songwriting, songwrite, Pat Pattison, Rewrite, The Promise of a New Day, Joe Brainard, Daily Meditations

[Expert Songwriting Advice] How to Write a Killer Hook

Posted by Jessica Brandon on Thu, Apr 02, 2020 @07:00 AM

 by Karen Randle

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There is an art to write a great chorus with great hooks. The hook and chorus is the most memorable part of any song, especially since it is repeated a couple of times or many times. In fact writing a great hook that makes your song stand out from the crowd, magnetically attract favorable attention, influence, thrive, stoke confidence and creativity in the songwriter or producer.

This energy from the hook emanates outward from its center and, in a closed loop or "boomerang effect" “hooks” the listener in. This is the secret that explains why composing great hooks are so important.

So, what is a hook? A hook is a musical idea, often a short riff, passage, or phrase, that is used in Pop, Rock, R&B, Country music to make a song appealing and to "catch the ear of the listener".

Also, so many people confuse the hook with the chorus. But that's not always the case. Sometimes the hook is the chorus, but it doesn't have to be.


1. Rhythm hook.
The rhythm hook establishes the beat and rhythm combination (such as Chord Progression) that the song is built on. Like “Billie Jean”, “Ice, Ice, Baby”, “Superstition”, “Another One Bites The Dust”, “Summer of ’69, etc.

With the example of “Billie Jean”, the most iconic Pop song of all time, this accompaniment is followed by a repetitive three-note synth, played staccato with a deep reverb. The defining rhythmic chord progression is then established. The rest is Pop music history, this song became the most definitive song of Michael Jackson’s career and established himself as the “King of Pop”.

How to compose (or write) a Rhythm hook:
i. Tap your foot
ii. Compose a short beat rhythm on your guitar or piano that grabs your attention
iii. A chord progression that accompanies the hook (Example: C, F, G)
iv. Compose a bass line that accompanies that


2. Intro hook.
Intro hook is usually a melodic idea that gets established in the intro. Like "Eye of the Tiger", “Smoke on the Water”, “Seven Nation Army", “Layla”, “Wonderful Tonight”. The intro hook makes the song instantly recognizable.

A good example is “Wonderful Tonight”: the song opens with its hook, the string-bending soulful guitar part in the first four measures, make it one of Pop/Rock most recognizable iconic Classic Pop/Rock song. Eric Clapton wrote this for his wife, Pattie Boyd.

How to compose a Intro hook:
i. Compose short melodic idea on your guitar or piano.
ii. Carefully choose or pic a few music notes hear and there
iii. Create a chord progression to accompany the notes
iv. Experiment and edit, make changes, repeat.


3. Background Instrumental Hook.
Instrumental hooks are, in my opinion, one of the most important and under-utilized devices in a songwriter’s toolbox. Like Ariana Grande’s “7 Rings”, Ah-Ha's "Take On me" and Bob Dylan’s “Like a Rolling Stone”.

With Ariana Grande’s “7 Rings” you’re as likely to think of that catchy single reverbed synth sound playing half notes, with occasional 8th note passing notes, that has made Arian Grande’s very first debut at #1 on the Billboard Hot 100 Charts.

How to compose a Background Instrumental Hook:
i. Compose chord progression, music notes, etc on your guitar or piano.
ii. Compose it with the chorus or refrain
iii. Try it with lyrics and experiment


So, write, rewrite and experiment. Writing a great hook is not easy but it worth the time and energy if you want to write a great song. Make it a great songwriting session!


For information on the 25th Annual USA Songwriting Competition, go to: https://www.songwriting.net

 
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Tags: songwriter, song writer, song write, Song writing, Chorus, Songwriting, demo, songwrite, hook, Chord, Background Instrumental Hook, Rhythm hook, Intro hook