Wednesday, January 12, 2011

What makes a Great Song? not over production

I have written over 2,000 songs, 1,000 are recorded, 500 music only and another 500+ just lyrics, I have taught others what It takes to make a great song, what is the test of a good, or great song.

First to tell if a song has potential you must hear it in it's simplistic from. I have heard and advised many on how to write better songs and consulted, critiqued many, many songs.I have learned over the years as An Indy Record Label owner ,A&R exec., a songwriter myself, what a good or great song will sound like. 

A great song with only one vocalist and one instrument,say piano or acoustic guitar.Many take sub par songs that are called filler songs, meaning songs needed to have a full CD, while the CD may have one or two good songs on it.What many try to do, producers,managers,engineers, is take a sub par song, not a hit song, and record it with a big production, effects and the like.

A song that is over produced Will not make a OK song a good song and certainly not a great song no matter how much fancy production is used.So what makes a great song?

 A great hook is essential, not over rhyming as this is the sign of a novice, unless its rap music.A good melody and chorus  after hearing it, one wants to hear it again and again.Lyrics should be one of the main concerns, if your a great lyricist, but not even an OK composer, this is where collaborations come in, know your weakness, and build on your strengths.

When submitting a song to a song publisher they want the voice clear, the lyrics to be heard and the simple accompaniment of the song, not a polished produced full song, those songs go to the A&R department, or agents, they want a finished product, so know your target audience and what you plan to do with that great song.The lyrics should flow effortlessly, they should read with a natural rhythm and have a strong hook that stands out.

As a pro song writer I start with the hook, this is not easy and takes practice, a strong hook and great chorus is what will drive the song, I take my great hook, and write the verses around that.

Let me give you an example of what I mean about a great lyric that flows well with out any instrument.The song I wrote and recorded back in the 80's while I was in a music ministry called Mantle, the songs title is 'The Winds Of England'

The Winds Of England by Danny Louis abaldo

Verse1 A long time ago from the shores of England
Came missionaries,mighty in the lord
They came in power,they came in holiness
Proclaiming the gospel of the scarlet cord
Through the Wesley's,by the word of God
Came to us the winds of change

Chor Don't let the winds die down, grace still abounds,
We'll make a might sound like the winds of England.
Let it burn in our hearts,fan a new start,
We'll do our part with the winds of England.

Ver2 The winds of Africa, the winds of Asia,
Bring the winds once more to America.
We need revival like the days of old,
Though the stories been told , we need to hear it again.

Chor repeat Don't let the winds die down, grace still abounds,
We'll make a might sound , like the winds of England.
Let it burn in our hearts,fan a new start,
We'll do our part with the winds of England.
Yes, we'll do our part with the winds of England.

You may not be into, or like Christian music, but I do.
This example is one of the best I could post to let you read it aloud and see how a great lyric flows with no music.Now some modern songs and experimental songs may have no flow, no rhyme or reason, as you read modern music lyrics they seem not to flow, but this is where the proper music composition comes in and whats called singing the words with proper Phrasing.

Read some of David Bowie's music, or U2, anyone you like, and when reading the lyrics, BEFORE hearing the song you may say to your self wow, this does not flow or make sense, after the song is heard and the seemingly out of sorts lyrics are heard in the song it blows your mind, that those lyrics make such a great song

My second point is that many times people  write the music first than the lyrics and this is where vocal phrasing comes in, meaning certain words extended, other words run on and than are short and than a long word sang out again and repetitions of this, so there are many things that make a great song, the first example was a lyric with no music it flows has a good hook and is pleasant to read, the other great songs may be almost unpleasant to read alone, but the whole of the song is great, so if you write music it works like the flow of lyrics, it should have a strong music hook maybe several, and the melody should be so memorable you find that you are thinking about the melody or humming it, as it is catchy.It is a song writers dream to hear some one whistling or humming a tune they wrote, as this tells you Job well done, you achieved your goal.

If you have never gone to one of the music capitals and shopped your song, it can be a hard and discouraging thing, as an A&R exec., or music publisher will put your CD on and listen to 30 seconds of your song if your lucky, that's just the way it works, so word of advice ,if your song has a long music intro and no hook your done, re record the great intro or shorten it dramatically and get right in to your hook a good strong lead. Could you imagine being the first A&R exec, that listened to PINK FLOYD, I mean talk about long intros, all outstanding by the way, as well as Super tramps 'Crime of The Century' one of the greatest and first Rock Albums of the 70's that used a lot of classical music in their unique style, no one has come close to original composition and mixed POP- rock and 100% different from any one in the 70's and may I say even to this day.

 So make your mark, follow your heart, If your stuff is non commercial as a lot of my music is not, thats why I am an Independent INDY music artist,But a word to the INDY artist, just because it's an INDY production, or CD does not mean it should not be well written, thought provoking lyrics. 

 So, what ever style you do, start with the basics, once those are mastered like in English composition, break all the rules to the content of your heart, a song is a form of art and even producing and engineering, so who is to define what art is,I will  be creative, be different and make sonic Pisces of art.

 You can hear my different styles of music by going to the bottom of the blog and follow the links to my stuff, see what I am saying how some INDY music can be way out there, but still great to listen to, hope you take a listen.'abaldo

No comments:

Post a Comment