Showing posts with label Songs. Show all posts
Showing posts with label Songs. Show all posts

Tuesday, September 11, 2018

How to Create the Perfect Structure for Your SONGS

Change (Taylor Swift song)
Change (Taylor Swift song) (Photo credit: Wikipedia)
Some people have a knack for song structure.  Taylor Swift, for example, began by writing poetry as a child. After teaching herself to play the guitar she began putting her poems to music, structuring them as songs. Of course, not everyone has Taylor’s innate musical skills. At the same time, you don’t need to attend college and earn a music degree or take years of lessons to learn the basics of how to create the perfect structure for your songs.

What does song structure actually mean?  Structure refers to the way the sections of the song are arranged. Structure gives the song its form and optimizes the emotional or musical impact. Different genres of music have a different structure. For example, a symphony has a different structure than a pop song. An R&B ballad has a different structure than a rap. So the type of genre you write in will affect the ultimate structure of your song.

Typically, songs employ repetition to make them catchy and to emphasize the song’s emotional point. A structure is also used to enhance the storytelling element of a song, making the listener want to hear what’s coming next.

Before you can decide on the structure of your song, you need to know the components to use:

The Introduction: Usually instrumental using chords from the verse or chorus but famous lyricists like George Gershwin regularly started his compositions with a sung intro.

Verse: Usually contains four to 8 chords. In songwriting terms, the story of the song is told through the verses.

Chorus: Also called the refrain, the chorus is also usually four to eight chords and has a primary musical phrase which is repeated. In Red Hot Chili Peppers’ “Dani California,” the refrain is:

California rest in peace
Simultaneous release
California show your teeth
She’s my priestess, I’m your priest

The chorus as a distinctly different musical dynamic that the verses. In songwriting terms, this is the emotional center of the song. Typically, a phrase from the chorus is what people remember.

Bridge: a musical connection between a verse and chorus or between a chorus and verse. This is especially useful when you have a key change from one to the other, or the transition from verse to chorus or vice versa isn’t particularly smooth.

Middle 8: A musical or lyrical interlude that can prevent a song from seeming monotonous or to add a different emotional element.

Outro: The “bow out” of a song. Often it’s just a reiteration of the verse or chorus but can be totally unique.  The elements of the structure are just a guideline. How you use them is based on your talent and artistic vision

Wednesday, June 7, 2017

Audience's Perception Of SONGS

Lyrics Born at the 2006 Coachella Valley Music...
Lyrics Born at the 2006 Coachella Valley Music and Arts Festival
(Photo credit: Wikipedia)
Any songwriter knows that a song will not make it without having well-written music and perfectly crafted lyrics. But the interaction between music and lyrics in a song poses two questions. The first is which is more important and the second is which should be written first. Nevertheless, the second question is not truly an issue; as it is simply a matter of personal preference and habit. The question that really needs answering is in fact the first: “Which is more important?!”

To answer this question, we have to examine the audience perception of songs. Songs are written for people to hear them; therefore the way they identify with songs is most relevant and crucial to the songwriting process. A good songwriter should examine his/her audience beforehand and, consequently, shape the song to be as easily conceived as possible by its intended audience.
As I belong to western music by education (classical music) and to oriental music by birth (being from Egypt), I have examined -as deeply as I could- the perception of songs by both Arabic listeners and European listeners. My conclusion is that those two different cultures produced very differently biased people.

The Arabic culture and legacy is based heavily on poetry while music remained trivial. Consequently, for Arabic listeners the lyrics come first and music is reduced to a melodic vehicle for the lyrics with the least amount of arrangement possible. Lyrics come first for Arabic listeners!

On the other hand, Europe’s music heritage is enormous with a lot of genius composers who will always be remembered. At the same time, Europe's great poets used the type of language that today needs a lot of simplification to understand. The music reaches the European listener before the lyrics!
So, does this mean that one can write "bad" lyrics for European listeners and get away with it?! Of course NOT!! They eventually catch up. Also, Arabic listeners will not listen to a song with bad music. The idea is that if your audiences care less for lyrics, then they wouldn’t “appreciate” a complex lyric. In fact, they wouldn’t understand it and will label it as “bad”. It has to be “good” but not “complex”. It’s all about complexity. Arabic listeners will settle down with a nice melody that fits the lyrics well. It has to be nice, but it CAN’T be complex!! My mother thinks that Dvorak’s “New World Symphony” is “louder” than music should be. I think she meant to say: “too complicated for music”. Conversely, European listeners will not settle for a nice melody, you have to have strong chord progressions, a powerful base line and a strong drum line. 

So, I write more complicated lyrics for Arabic listeners and more complicated music for European listeners. Study YOUR OWN audiences and see what they like and to which side they are biased, so you know how to adjust your song’s complexity. But beware; sometimes “less complicated” means “more difficult to write”…Wish you simple songwriting!!

Author: Mahmoud Ibrahim