Develop Your Hooks, or: If a Song is Worth Doing, It’s Worth Doing Well
Another more general topic today, but also one which is tremendously powerful in its simplicity. Pop music is all about hooks. But, if truth be told, it’s not just “pop” music. Just about “any” kind of music, to be widely accepted or respected must be able to “hook” its target audience. Mozart wasn’t above “hooky music” either! Quite the contrary.
Most people think it’s the “chorus.” True, a chorus should be “hooky” but it’s just one of many possible hooks a song can have. A particular sound; a cool riff; a “sticky” melody somewhere in the verse; a sound effect; a cool word; a hooky break… and the list goes on.
In fact, “anything” in a song CAN be a hook. It’s just something which grabs the listener’s attention and invites him to have another listen. A well-contrstructed song will have multiple hooks. The way is starts, the way it goes in the verse, the way it transits to the chorus, and so on. And, as I already said before, DON’T make the mistake of thinking “hooky = cheap commercial crap.” Nothing could be further from the truth. Some of the most ambitious and demanding music in the world has CLEAR hooks. Except that some of those hooks might be aimed at more demanding audiences!
The thing about hooks is that they’re actually not all that difficult to write or arrange – as soon as you realize that they’re needed. The trick, of course, is to come up with something original or quirky or… “you.”
But you should start by analyzing established music for its hooks, and see if you can come up with something comparable for your tracks. Perhaps it’s a few notes on the piano as you transit from one part to the next. Maybe it’s an insanely hooky guitar riff which you’ve rehearsed for 10 hours and finally got it to work. Or maybe it’s a crazy, soaring chorus which just needed a couple of notes flipped out here and there to really rule…
Making great music is ALWAYS a process of REVISION. Do not believe in those stories on divine inspiration which resulted in a classic. While they may or may not have happened, believing in them will distract you from what really matters: spend the TIME it takes. If it’s worth doing, it’s worth doing GREAT.
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