In our last weeks’ discussion, I shared about tools for mass manipulation. Just in case you missed last week’s discussion you can click on this link The Very Best Way To Manipulate Everyone Into Liking Your New Song Pt1 to read our post last week. Now let’s continue our series.
- The Heart Craft: OK, so we’re having fun playing off this "manipulation" theme, but it is meant in jest to make a point. You can have all the great intentions or "heart" behind a song, but if you don’t structure or "present" that song well before your listeners, well, you won’t have any. Think of deciding to make a delicious meal for someone. You have an idea that bananas would make for a great sweet bread. So you get all the ingredients, but have no clue on directions of the recipe. If you simply begin to mix everything together you’ll have something awful. Yes, you had the right ingredients, but no "structure" or recipe on putting them together properly. It’s the same thing with songwriting. You can have a great idea or a message or a truth you want to share, but that is not enough to equal a great song. On the other hand, if you really understand the structure or song craft, but don’t have a good story or message or emotional element in your song that will be just as big of a turn off as a sloppy song.
Like I said before, people are always eager to hear new great songs. In fact, people are excited to find the unknown artists and feel like the are "in the know" about some great music. That’s how many songwriters really get launched when people get excited about the songs they are writing. So help them as much as possible. Write from your heart, but use the craft, the tools, of good songwriting to help deliver your heart to as many listeners as possible.
- Building Contrast: When your song has a change in sound, chords or the vocal melody you can really catch people’s attention. Look for ways to add different "dynamics" to your song. Have a section really build then bring it down softly. Make your chorus soar where you are singing at the top of your range so you can really belt it out then have everything drop down as you repeat a tag several times eventually building back into your chorus. Maye the verse has a lot of quick words giving a sense of urgency or energy, then you move into the chorus with a few words drawn out for effect. Think of yourself as taking your listener for a fun ride through a mountain road..the more turns etc the more exciting it can be. Of course you’ll want to balance this out which brings us to the next tool…
- Repetition: Don’t forget to bring your song back to the theme. You’ll want a good hook that repeats several times in the song. You’ll want at least a couple of verses or to repeat the verse a few times for a good balance to the song. Avoid too many weird chord changes unless you are a master at your instrument and you’re doing it because that’s part of the appeal to your song etc..
Most great songs will have a chorus you want to sing over and over again, Make the song engaging and repeatable.
So, these are different key elements of good song craft. They aren’t the only ones, but some good ones to think through. Again, we aren’t really trying to manipulate anyone, but we don’t want to make it hard for people to enjoy our songs. You have a message to share. If your vehicle to deliver that message is clunky, doesn’t run well or never moves at all no one is going to be positively impacted by your gifts and art.
Take some action:
Listen to several hit songs and see if you can identify what song craft elements they are using.
Review some of your own songs – what elements are missing from your own songs? Is there a favorite song of yours that hasn’t been connecting with people? How can you simplify? build contrast? Mess with the melody? etc….
Let us know how you are using song craft effectively in your own songs? Post an example below of some of your songs you need help with. We would love to give any input we can.
To get hundreds of more songwriting tips we highly recommend Robin Fredericks’ book Shortcuts To Hit Songwriting