Let There Be Music – J. A. Bove
I’m getting ready to go into the recording studio tonight to record the ninth song on our upcoming album/CD ‘Full of Bull’ hopefully to be released in early 2012. I personally believe there should be at least a minimum of twelve songs on any album, but studio time is expensive and we’ve been working on this album for well over a year now, so we might just end up with ten.
That stated, I think to myself, well this is the fourth CD that we would have released and even if we record only ten songs, that’s over forty songs that Koncrete Kite has now written and recorded. This brings me back to a conversation I had with a friend of mine who asked a very simple question – how do you write a song? Let me tell you friend, there are actually many ways one might create a song, but since song writing is a form of self-expression, much like painting is to an artist, or writing is to an author, there is no exact formula. The method I will explain is one I have used for many years and has proven to be successful.
Now, considering I am a guitarist, I always start with the hook. How do I come up with said hook? Well, I’ve come across a number of hooks through various forms. I’m either inspired by something that I’ve heard that I found could, or should be played differently, or I’m simply doodling around on the guitar and something just comes to me that I enjoy. I’ve once even come across an idea through a dream. Yes a dream. I dreamt that I was performing on stage as the opening act for Bruce Springsteen, and I played a song that I never heard. I liked the song so much that when I woke, I immediately picked up my guitar, figured out the melody, and recorded it on the tape recorder. I then went back to bed and finished sleeping.
The point here is that there is no specific thing that comes to you and gives you this hook, it’s either there, or it isn’t. Sometimes my brothers might say, hey we need a rocking song to open the album, or we need something commercial here, and I’ll try to focus my energy on a specific idea, but in general, hooks come to you when they do. I find it best not to try and force any ideas. Either you enjoy what you’re playing and record it to memory, or you’re just goofing around.
Okay, you say, I’ve got my hook, what now? Well first and foremost, make sure you’re hook is strong enough to carry the rest of the song. The hook is going to be your chorus, or the catchy part of your tune. Now you have to fill in the missing parts. This is where it helps to have other musician to bounce around some ideas. The simplistic way to write a song is to go: opening (hook), verse, chorus, verse, chorus, (possible solo) chorus and end. So simplistically speaking, you need three parts to each song. If you’re creative, or talented enough, throw in a solo. Nowadays most musicians tend to opt away from the solo. The days of Eddie Van Halen have faded, it’s now all about the melody.
Alright, I’ve come up with my verse, my chorus, and I’m going to be daring enough to throw in a solo. Now what? Well, did you happen to give any thought to the rhythm of this song? Has a drummer sat down with the song and worked out a beat? No? Well, I would highly recommend doing this. The right beat to a song is critical in the shaping of a song. How would ‘Rock-n-Roll‘ by Led Zeppelin be if not for the driving intro, or ‘In the Air Tonight‘, by Phil Collins without the impactful entrance of the drums? Go work that out and come back to me.
Whew, tougher than I thought. Ok, I’ve got my hook, created a solid rhythm and put the song in proper order. Am I done? Is a house done without the floors? Is a car complete without the engine? No, you’re not done. We need the melody. Get out your paper and pen, or computer, and start putting some lyrics to this bad boy. Here’s a hint, play off of your hook, and what ever you do, make it catchy. If you don’t enjoy singing it, no one else will.
From here it’s all down hill. Go into the studio and record all the basics to your song. Now comes the fun part, or what we in the band like to refer to as the pixie dust. Fill out the song, make it complete. While listening to the basic song, hum what ever catchy comes to mind and record it on top of what you’ve already put down on tape. Make sure you have a competent engineer to work with, mix your song, and your masterpiece is now ready to be released to the general public to be listened to and critiqued. Hopefully they like what you’ve done, but as long as you’re proud of what you accomplished take what others say with a grain of salt.
So there you have it, the blue print to creating a song from an artist who has written and recorded many. Is my formula the correct method to use? Well, for me it is, but for others, it may not work. Many musicians like to start with the lyrics and melody first, but this is simply a preference. With this in mind are you now ready to become a songwriter? Hey, as long as you have the desire, and some musical talent, of course you are. So what are you waiting for? Pick-up your instrument, or pick-up that pen and start creating.