So many talented songwriters and composers love melodies and harmonies so much that they layer as many into their song as they possibly can. They want the best music productions for their songs, but think that adding more and more instruments and parts will make their production sound great.
Unfortunately, it won’t!
Less is more
Have you ever noticed that some of the biggest hits of all time only have three or four instruments on them? Lots of classic Beatles songs just have a couple simple guitar parts, bass, drums and vocals. Nirvana and Green Day have had monumental hit songs, and neither group is more than a power trio. Even “Billie Jean,” one of Michael Jackson’s biggest hits, is a simple production with few instruments.
If you have too many parts, melodies and counter-melodies, it can prevent your song from being catchy and memorable. If you try singing two melodies that are played together in a song, it’s pretty much impossible… And if you can’t do it, neither can your potential fans.
Don’t let too many parts get in the way of your song’s catchy melody
1. Choose your session players wisely. Many local (non-commercial) studios will offer you their own musicians, or even to have their engineer play on your album. But 99% of the time the result is just a mediocre instrumental track that will do nothing to set you apart from the thousands of other singer/songwriters out there. Think about it for a second: do you know of any famous songs that were recorded by a “one-man-band?” It is crucial to the sound of your recording to get yourself the best session players you can afford. And with today’s easy access to great recording technology, finding the right session player is even more important than the recording studio.
2. Sketch out your song and plan the arrangement before you go to the studio. Songwriters’ biggest mistake is trying to write/arrange/finish their music in the studio. Remember: when that studio clock is ticking and every extra minute is money out of your pocket, it makes it nearly impossible to be creative–especially in an unfamiliar environment. So plan ahead and record a sketch of your song at home; it can
SECRETS OF HIT SONGWRITING. Study today’s hit songs to learn new skills, stay up-to-date, and get inspired.
Taylor Swift says she got the inspiration for this song when she overheard a male friend arguing with his girlfriend over the phone. You’ll see how this idea even ended up in the video. Just goes to show that songwriting themes are all around you. Keep your ears open!
I promise you’ll learn new songwriting techniques from this huge Country/Pop hit that you’ll be putting to use in your own songs for months and years to come. The lyric details and melodic twists are exciting, fun, and an essential part of today’s hit songs in all genres.
Recorded by Taylor Swift
Writers: Liz Rose & Taylor Swift
Lyrics are available online.
The “Shortcut” numbers refer to specific chapters in my book Shortcuts to Hit Songwriting.
GENRE (What is a genre?)
This song is a perfect example of the Pop/Country Crossover style that works for both Country and AC (Adult Contemporary) radio. It reached the #1 spot on both music charts. Why? Well, it has a melody that features the fun twists
Choosing a key for your song doesn’t just affect how high or low you will sing it. Different musical keys mean different moods and vibes for your song. You may notice one minor key sounds darker than another (Nigel Tufnel famously dubbed D minor to be the “saddest of all keys” in This Is Spinal Tap), or you might find a particular key sounds happier than the one a step below. Additionally, for instruments like guitar, the key can make the difference when it comes to chord structures and available open strings.
Much in the process of choosing the perfect key for your song boils down to personal preference… If you think the song sounds best in this key or your voice really reaches its full potential in that key, it’s probably the right choice for your song. But the most important part about choosing they key is not what you choose so much as when you choose it… You should always pick the key BEFORE you record your song.
Having the key beforehand is surely a part of being generally well-prepared with your music, but it also serves a functional purpose: it can be exceedingly difficult to change the key
When it comes down to it, we all want to know the same thing about our music: Is my demo good enough to get me signed or placed in TV/movies?
In the last post, I talked about the artist press kit–all of the things you need to include, what they should look like, and why they’re important. And of course, I stressed the fact that the demo is far and away the most important part of the package. You might have the fanciest, most exciting looking press kit in the world, but it won’t amount to much if the music doesn’t live up to the hype!
So let’s talk more about the demo… You know it has to be great, but how do you know it’s great? Here are a few pointers that should give you a better idea of whether your demo will make the cut.
Your demo MUST have great songs!
First things first: the songs on your demo should be great. Making a professional demo will be easy if the songs are strong and memorable–but if they’re not so good, it won’t matter how much polish you put on the production. So spend a good deal of time crafting your
Did you know that you probably already have enough music to record your album? Even if you just have the basic sketch of a song in your head, it’s probably enough to get started. The Beatles once famously said that “all you need is love.” I’m here to say that if you want to record your music, all you really need is a melody and a chord progression. (A little love doesn’t hurt, either!)
You don’t need every section of your song planned out note by note; you don’t need the intro melody or the solo section completely written. All you need is a “sketch.” The song sketch is a rough outline of your song… And when you get world-class, top-notch session musicians to play on your recordings, they help flesh out your creation with their professional expertise. The chord progression, melody and lyrics are the heart and soul of your creation–they are what the whole rest of the production is based off of.
But the production process involves getting down to every last little detail in the song, whether that’s a cool guitar lick in the bridge or a melodic hook in the background vocals. With Studio Pros, you get to
Have you ever tried talking to someone about your music? Sometimes describing something so abstract can be a little tricky.
“I want this song to have a smooth vibe, but still be a little rough around the edges.”
“This song should rock out and have tons of energy.”
“This track very ethereal and spiritual, but without being corny.”
Sound like anything you’ve heard before? Each of these things means a specific thing to the artist. But what it means to them could be completely different from what it means to you (or any other musician for that matter). And that’s the trouble with using words to describe music: it’s not always a universal language. What’s dark to one person might be somber to another. What’s peppy to one ear could be cheesy to the next. So how can you convey the style you’re going for, particularly when you’re doing a project with an online recording studio like Studio Pros?
The answer: reference tracks!
The simplest and most helpful way to help a musician figure out what you want for your song (beyond musical charts) is to provide them with songs that achieve the same kinds of goals you want your song to achieve. That’s why the