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[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