Originally Posted by Danny Zuko
Authors and Musicians...
I have had some people tell me that composing music is easy, and that anyone can do it. Yes, anyone can do it, but few can really do it. Writing a song is much like being an author. Yes, we all have tools to write (everyone has a brain I hope!), but that doesn’t all of a sudden make us best selling authors. Authors work at their abilities, often every day. The prime goal of an author is the same as a musician, which is to emotionally connect with the reader in some way or another. Writers do this by using motivation, chararacterization, and powerful word combinations among other things. Composers, like authors, have a lot in common. Our main goal is to connect with the listener emotionally.
This is where our first tip comes into play: Never stop working at your abilities. If our main goal is to connect emotionally, we should want to have as many tools as we possibly can to achieve that goal. The more abilities that we have, the more choices we can make musically. It’s important to have a wide arsenal of choices at your disposal, because if we keep doing the same ‘tried and true’ methods, their emotional effects will wear off as the songwriting becomes caged into a predictable movement.
Who are you writing your music for? Know your goal.
The reason why you need to know this is because when you make music for yourself, there is no limit to what you can do to be ‘expressive’. If you are making music for other people, you will have to be aware of how people relate to it. It is like this: when you are a computer genius and you want to tell someone how to fix their computer, you have to speak in their terms so they can understand what the heck you are saying. If you speak in your lingo, you will most likely lose them in techno-talk. Another example is the author. He can write a story with the largest, most sweeping words he knows- but if the reader does not know what those words mean, the entire meaning gets lost.
We, as musicians, face the same predicament. Overcomplicated songs will lose the average listener. Now, other hardcore musicians will greatly appreciate your abilities and probably get more feeling from it- but the common person will most likely not be able to follow. Once again you should ask yourself when you write a song: Who am I making this music for and will they be able to relate?
Building a hook.
Some of the most powerful hooks are derived from taking a simple melody and modifying it ever so slightly. Why does that make it powerful? Hooks need to be predictable and not predictable at the same time. If there is a degree of predictability then the listener will be able to relate to the song more quickly. For instance, how many of you have said in your mind, “that would be so cool if this song did this...” and then the song took the same direction you wanted it to go. Immediate satisfaction.
If you twist it a little bit, then the song will have its unique identity that separates it from the traditional cliché of many hooks. People have heard different artists use the exact same musical hooks and patterns, and if there is no unique twist then you will hear something like, “they copied (fill in the blank)’s song. Sounds just like it but with different words.” You will most likely want your song to have its own identity.