The No.1 Website for Pro Audio
 Search This Thread  Search This Forum  Search Reviews  Search Gear Database  Search Gear for sale  Search Gearslutz Go Advanced
What are you omitting in order to keep your songs around 3:30 minutes ? Virtual Instrument Plugins
Old 15th July 2008
  #1
Lives for gear
 
dreamsongs's Avatar
 

Thread Starter
What are you omitting in order to keep your songs around 3:30 minutes ?

For some time now a few Publishers have been bugging me to keep my songs under the 3:30 mark. Now they've said they won't take any more songs if they're over that time...

So...I've been shaving bars here and there from my latest projects in order to satisfy their latest compulsive need although I understand their reasoning.

I'm putting a CD of all my songs and I'm really struggling to cut parts that I think are important. I've shaved intros and outros, cut down instrumental breaks down to 2 bars but I feel incomplete. Some of these songs are close to 4:00 and some come in at 4:10.

I can do this but I'm not happy about it. The easiest way has been to cut down intros and get right to it or quick fades without messing too much with the track. One example of this has been the latest Maroon 5 CD. Very short intro, right into the verse almost, no instrumental parts and on some songs, an abrupt ending.

How do you guys put everything in and feel satisfied assuming you're doing a typical structure ?
Old 15th July 2008
  #2
Lives for gear
 
danbronson's Avatar
 

The length of a song is pretty much determined by the beginning stages of writing it. Shoot for 3:30 or less in the first place and you will find yourself writing differently, being more concise. Taking a 4+ minute song (one that works at that length) and trimming it down to 3:30 is just going to make a good song sound wrong imo.

So maybe do what you can for the songs you've already written, but keep this in mind for the future.
Old 15th July 2008
  #3
Lives for gear
 
jeremy.c.'s Avatar
drop the bridge (unless it's absolute genius, then drop a verse)
or double your tempo...
Old 15th July 2008
  #4
Lives for gear
 
dreamsongs's Avatar
 

Thread Starter
Quote:
Originally Posted by olivia_nb View Post
drop the bridge (unless it's absolute genius, then drop a verse)
or double your tempo...
I can't do that with my existing songs...plus the bridge to me contains part of the lyrics and a break from the melody that are vital to the song.

The last few songs I wrote are all written with the mindset of that time frame. The other ones I might have to get creative...
Old 15th July 2008
  #5
Lives for gear
 
Protools Guy's Avatar
 

I'm with you. I prefer to let the song tell me how long it should be rather than me tell the song how short it needs to be. Music is art, and I don't think it's right to shorten a piece of art for the sake of trying to get a publisher to bite.

That being said, the record company always chopped my guitar solos when releasing singles to radio. Bummer...
Old 15th July 2008
  #6
Moderator
 
Blast9's Avatar
Try putting in odd numbers of bars in linking/turnaround sections i.e. try 3 bars instead of 4.

Try starting with a chorus?
Old 15th July 2008
  #7
Lives for gear
 
dreamsongs's Avatar
 

Thread Starter
I think everyone knows by now that there's very little room for blazing guitar solos in today's radio. Being a guitar player, that bums me out.

Some of my tracks have an 8 bar instrumental, mainly guitar and sometimes piano. This is mainly what they want me to cut and I'm not thrilled about it. I rather cut the intro and fades than that.

I guess they want it to sound like everything else...all vocals and no instruments...
Old 15th July 2008
  #8
Lives for gear
 
Unclenny's Avatar
You can't easily change a tune just for time constraints without compromising the song's integrity...IMHO.

I guess it starts with the composition.

Just finished a tune that I intentionally kept under 3:00 ..........tried hard to compact the message into that time frame.

First thing I heard from my 'Producer' was......"Like the tune...how come it's so short."

Can't win.

Shared Soul
Old 15th July 2008
  #9
Lives for gear
 
dreamsongs's Avatar
 

Thread Starter
Quote:
Originally Posted by Blast9 View Post
Try putting in odd numbers of bars in linking/turnaround sections i.e. try 3 bars instead of 4.

Try starting with a chorus?
This is something that I'n starting to do and experiment with. I usually write in even numbers for the most part.
Old 15th July 2008
  #10
Gear maniac
 
skatingbasser's Avatar
 

I don't.
Old 15th July 2008
  #11
Get to singing within 10-12 seconds

Cut down 'multi tiered' intros that are basically the same melody but with bass, then with guitar, then with keys etc..

Cut down multi tiered middle 8 sections - have a middle 8 - but dont start some new 3 part epic in the middle of the song?

As you head towards the end of the song perhaps its a bad time to introduce some new melody / musical section that will only help the listener forget the chorus and the verse?

Keep it simple
Old 15th July 2008
  #12
Lives for gear
 
drakewire's Avatar
 

Keep it simple verse chorus verse chorus short solo outro chorus... and if that Fails, change your bands name to Mars Volta....
Old 15th July 2008
  #13
Lives for gear
 
666666's Avatar
Quote:
Originally Posted by danbronson View Post
The length of a song is pretty much determined by the beginning stages of writing it....
I agree. You're probably better off just writing new stuff from scratch that fits the 3:30 goal than trying too hard to widdle down the longer stuff you already have.

I actually really LIKE the 3:30 limit because, in my opinion, most independant tunes I hear in my daily stumblings are almost ALWAYS too long... too much repetition... too much stuff that is just not exciting and totally unnecessary. And it harms the end result. Even good friends of mine who are extremely talented musicians and write great stuff, I could probably take any one of their songs and chop out a full minute easily if not cut the song in half and make it MUCH BETTER in the process. Of course this is just my opinion but I feel pretty strongly about it.

I surely dig the whole part about "music is art"... indeed... but I think, at least in a lot of cases, the artist tends to self indulge a bit when composing... the artist can get too "artsy", worrying too much about the trees and not seeing the forest and all that. This is where a good outside PRODUCER / arranger can really come in handy to help aid the artist in properly presenting the strongest ideas in the best and most concise manner chopping off all the junk that is just unnecessary and counter-productive.

Finally, if the goal is to let the art run free, then one should not be getting involved with situations that pose time limits. Perhaps save your longer more artful songs for a different project, and write some newer shorter things for the people with the time limit.

Less is more... it really is. Many Beatle songs are between 2 and 3 minutes in length if I remember correctly, a few even under 2 minutes I think.... maybe go back and listen to some of that stuff for inspiration. They get right to the point, intros and such are super short and super effective, it all works beautifully, very intense, like a focused laser beam... that's the way to do it.

Old 15th July 2008
  #14
Lives for gear
 
dreamsongs's Avatar
 

Thread Starter
Quote:
Originally Posted by Jules View Post
Get to singing within 10-15 seconds

Cut down 'multi tiered' intros that are basically the same melody but with bass, then with guitar, then with keys etc..

Cut down multi tiered middle 8 sections - have a middle 8 - dont start some new 3 part epic in the middle of the song.

As you head towards the end of the song dont introduce some new melody that will only help the listener forget the chorus and the verse.

Sell the song, repeat the chorus rather than introduce something new..

Keep it simple
That's how I'm forcing myself to write now...but it doesn't fully convince me.

I'm trying to get to the vocals and chorus a lot sooner. But the thing is, there are still plenty of songs with cool intros and it sets a nice atmosphere on certain songs...

I'm also tring to get out of writing bridges on most songs. But there's only so much you can do with conventional song formats...
Old 16th July 2008
  #15
Gear interested
 

One surprising way is to speed up the tempo by about 5 bpm, if it's feasible. I would suggest reviewing some Elvis songs, where the lengths are between 2:30 and 3:00. That can give you a good idea of effective song structures.

Being a guitar player, I can empathize with you about the guitar solos lacking in today's music. To get inspired to write great songs with solos, check out Bon Jovi and he will also give you some structure ideas as well as using a transposed chorus at the end in lieu of a bridge (Livin' on a Prayer). That can also be an effective replacement using a feedback as soon as the hook is emphasized.
Old 16th July 2008
  #16


Make two songs out of one.

Part 1 and Part 2 - Floyd did it...




-tINY

Old 16th July 2008
  #17
Lives for gear
 
Makinithappen's Avatar
 

Quote:
Originally Posted by thegobstopper View Post
check out Bon Jovi and he will also give you some structure ideas as well as using a transposed chorus at the end in lieu of a bridge (Livin' on a Prayer). That can also be an effective replacement using a feedback as soon as the hook is emphasized.
I'm probably guilty of overusing this trick. Very effective.
Old 16th July 2008
  #18
Registered User
 

You are obviously talking about Pop music hear, so let's dispense with the integrity argument. There's probably already a ton of repitition, run on intros/outros, parts that aren't necessary and a Bridge in every song. If you are demoing for publishers and they are suggesting shorter songs, then you should just do it. Obviously you want to get material licensed and make money. That is a good thing.

1. First thing you do is lose the Bridge (as previously suggested). If you can't do this, then forget about publishing. If they need a Bridge, they'll ask for it.

2. For the purposes of demoing, you don't need three choruses plus and outro. Make it two and see ya later.

3. Keep those intros/outros short

4. The double first verse (or last chorus for that matter) isn't necessary at this stage unless it's really crafty.

5. You don't always need to go back to the tag/intro after every Chorus.

Try to remember that you are a songwwriter, not a producer. It's a producer's job to extend or cut arrangements. If they want three...give three of your best 'cause they ain't looking for four.


Good Luck. I hope you make a ****load of money.

Nick
Old 16th July 2008
  #19
Lives for gear
 
AnthonyRochester's Avatar
 

what are you putting into the song that makes it more than 1:30?
Old 16th July 2008
  #20
Lives for gear
 

I haven't heard a song without a bridge on the radio in a long time, so my suggestion would be not to drop the bridge. A bridge provides vital contrast in pop songs. One of the ways I learned to write, arrange, and produce songs was to listen to the current hits in the style I was working on and copy the structure. Bar per bar. That way I knew exactly how long a song was going to turn out before I even finished it. Do it enough and these hit structures will become second nature and your songs will flow more smoothly. Good luck with your writing!

Ed
Old 16th July 2008
  #21
Lives for gear
 
The Beatsmith's Avatar
 

what a sad state of affairs that publishers are forcing you to do this...
Old 16th July 2008
  #22
Lives for gear
 
travisbrown's Avatar
Dump the middle eight. Radio pop songs don't usually need bridges.
Old 16th July 2008
  #23
Lives for gear
 
travisbrown's Avatar
Quote:
Originally Posted by The Beatsmith View Post
what a sad state of affairs that publishers are forcing you to do this...
This isn't a new thing. This has been around for ~60 years. Feel lucky - used to be that songs had to be under three.

And why so sad? Writers have to write to a specific word count, print designers have to design to specific aspect ratios and dimensions and sometimes within a certain palette; videographers are limited to exact time. Pop composers aren't some special exception.

The publishers ask for a specific format and length because that's what sells.
Old 16th July 2008
  #24
Gear Guru
 
Sid Viscous's Avatar
 

Unless the bridge is absofekkinglutely briiiiliant...
kill it.
Old 16th July 2008
  #25
Gear Head
 
incongru's Avatar
 

yeah it's a sad world.....
(I can't sleep...that's the reason why I'm here)
I say **** them all and do your song!
make it 20 or 30 minutes or even an hour if you feel like it.
some people will still be more than happy to listen to it.
And I'll be one of them
Old 16th July 2008
  #26
Lives for gear
 
drakewire's Avatar
 

I say just write your darn song and keep it as quick as possible. Most huge acts dont conform to 3:30, so thats BS, the only genre I know that conforms to that is Rap, although Eminem's average song length is 4:45 seconds. Even Radio will play songs at the 4 minute bargain all the time, ever heard of green day?
Old 16th July 2008
  #27
Lives for gear
Quote:
Originally Posted by dreamsongs View Post
I think everyone knows by now that there's very little room for blazing guitar solos in today's radio. Being a guitar player, that bums me out.
I have never had a problem writing an upbeat, 3 1/2 minute rock song that includes a guitar solo (which are found on the majority of my tunes). No one has ever complained about the solos being there.

Vs-Ch-Vs-Ch-Bridge/Solo-Vs-Ch - as simple as can be!

- Chris
Old 16th July 2008
  #28
Lives for gear
 
dreamsongs's Avatar
 

Thread Starter
Quote:
Originally Posted by indravayu View Post
I have never had a problem writing an upbeat, 3 1/2 minute rock song that includes a guitar solo (which are found on the majority of my tunes). No one has ever complained about the solos being there.

Vs-Ch-Vs-Ch-Bridge/Solo-Vs-Ch - as simple as can be!

- Chris
I hear what you're saying and that's probably the exact structure of most of my pop/rock songs.

However, you'll be surprised to hear how many busy Publishers that you wouldn't want to piss off don't care about guitar solos or instrumental bits in songs. In your scenario and with that structure which as I said I used quite a bit, they would never even get to the solo.

Even the guys that I've known for some years and know my material and the way I write are telling me to drop the solo after the bridge and get to the last chorus. In fact, some of them don't even want to hear anything longer than a 2 bar intro. It's the sign of the times I guess...

In this case, it probably wouldn't be difficult to get most of my songs under the 3:30 mark although I always feel I'm butchering the song.

Regarding the bridge, I don't think you can do without one in most songs I know and hear. It would have to be some pretty spectacular verses and choruses to get thru the song without a breather. Most songs need that departure...
Old 16th July 2008
  #29
Lives for gear
 

what a load of ****. most of my songs are around 5 minutes. I realize that sometimes 5 minutes can be long, but it completely depends on what your doing in that amount of time. I would send hate mail to one of those executives and leave it anonymous
Old 16th July 2008
  #30
Lives for gear
 
dreamsongs's Avatar
 

Thread Starter
Quote:
Originally Posted by dylansmale View Post
what a load of ****. most of my songs are around 5 minutes. I realize that sometimes 5 minutes can be long, but it completely depends on what your doing in that amount of time. I would send hate mail to one of those executives and leave it anonymous
If you're releasing an album on your own, you can get away with any length of song. Still, it better be good if you want the listening public to stick around.

But in my world, they want it nice and compact. It sucks but what can I do ?
New Reply Submit Thread to Facebook Facebook  Submit Thread to Twitter Twitter  Submit Thread to LinkedIn LinkedIn  Submit Thread to Google+ Google+  Submit Thread to Reddit Reddit 
 
Post Reply

Welcome to the Gearslutz Pro Audio Community!

Registration benefits include:
  • The ability to reply to and create new discussions
  • Access to members-only giveaways & competitions
  • Interact with VIP industry experts in our guest Q&As
  • Access to members-only sub forum discussions
  • Access to members-only Chat Room
  • Get INSTANT ACCESS to the world's best private pro audio Classifieds for only USD $20/year
  • Promote your eBay auctions and Reverb.com listings for free
  • Remove this message!
You need an account to post a reply. Create a username and password below and an account will be created and your post entered.


 
 
Slide to join now Processing…
Thread Tools
Search this Thread
Search this Thread:

Advanced Search
Similar Threads
Thread
Thread Starter / Forum
Replies
RoundBadge / Product Alerts older than 2 months
82
dylansmale / Work In Progress / Advice Requested / Show and Tell / Artist Showcase / Mix-Offs
0
Wo0d643 / Work In Progress / Advice Requested / Show and Tell / Artist Showcase / Mix-Offs
0
relayer / Music Computers
15
CrazyBeast / Work In Progress / Advice Requested / Show and Tell / Artist Showcase / Mix-Offs
5

Forum Jump
Forum Jump