Songwriters may often ask themselves, “What makes a song great?” The answer to that question can make the difference between a mediocre song and an amazing song. Hopefully, once you finish reading this post you will be on the path the write great songs. This is not a new topic it has been written about by many experts in the industry. Trying to unravel the right formula is a lot like hitting a moving target. Taste change, technology changes making it difficult to nail down the right formula.
Follow Basic Rules
There are some very basic rules a songwriter should follow. As you examine hit songs you will find a lot of similarity between them. As you work on the craft of songwriting, you focus on things like structure, melody or production.
Songwriting is an Art
Beyond this songwriting and music is an art. As art, the song must connect with the listener. Most great songs are great primarily because they connect emotionally with the listener. You can have the best production, an amazing chord progression, a song form with everything in the right place but, unless you make a connection with your listener you will not be able to write great songs.
People Love Stories
Stories are relatable. Coming up with a good story for your song is the first step in creating a great song. If the story is universal to many people the task of relating in the song is easy. The more people who relate to the song’s story the better the chances of people relating to it. What you want to avoid is being too personal and introspective in your song. Having a great story is the foundation of a song. To make it better requires skills and techniques to highlight elements of the story.
Write a Great Melody
To highlight the song’s story is best done with the melody. A great melody first needs to mirror the emotion of the song. Is it a sad story? Perhaps writing a melody based on a minor scale will emphasize the emotion of the words in the song. The melody needs to be interesting. In addition the melody should be singable by most people who will listen to the song.
Tell a Great Story
Every story has a plot. The plot outlines the progression of any story. In songwriting we use ‘song form’ to create plots. At minimum as song needs a verse and chorus. The verse details the story while the chorus sums up the story. To make it a story even more interesting a bridge can be added. The bridge provides a change up in the storyline.
Make it Relatable
This next concept is perhaps the most difficult to do. Make the song simple. In pursuit of art there is a tendency to complicate things. Songs get complicated many ways. Keeping a song simple is much harder to do than you think. It requires a lot editing. It requires removing unwanted or distracting elements. This does not imply that you dumb down the song. On the contrary making it simple will help pinpoint the message of the song and make it more enjoyable and relatable to the listener.
You Must Have a Hook
Finally, the song needs a hook. The hook is what draws the listener into the song. It is what keeps them in the songs. The hook helps the listener to remember the song. Every great song has some sort of hook. Don’t neglect this important element when writing your songs.
Final Thought: Write Great Songs
Now instead of spending four hours on the perfect snare drum sound focus on these things. Have a relatable story line. Combine it with a melody that reinforces the emotion of the story. Organize the story with the right song form. And finally, make sure you have a hook. This is how you can write great songs.