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Ideas and Advice for Real Songwriters (formerly songwright.co.uk)

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Ultimate Songwriting Lessons – Songwriting Hooks and Songwriting Meat

I just stumbled across this video, via this post.

It’s from this website.

First off, let me make clear that I have a very low opinion of sales pages like this one. I know they’ve been shown to work, that they’re ‘good marketing,’ but I really don’t like them.

However, don’t take that us an opinion of the book, as I haven’t read it, I’ve just seen the video.

A few thoughts occured as I watched, and I made some rough notes:

  • The narrator equates artistic worth with ‘lyrical depth’. Personally I would argue that lyrics are not the main conveyor of meaning in popular song – meaning comes from other parts of the song as well.
  • Suggesting that ‘Satisfaction’ by the Stones has lyrical depth is probably pushing things.
  • The Cardigans hook is great, but I want more meat in this analysis. For example, the hook is not just the guitar part, it’s the combination of a relatively static two pitch guitar riff over a moving chord progression. The rhythm of the guitar riff – emphasising beats 2 and 4 like the snare drum, probably has something to do with it, as does the A A A B structure of the riff.

Hooks are generally good because they emphasise or play with our expectations.

Take that fantastic Satisfaction guitar riff – yes it has only three pitches and a really unique timbre, but we can say more than that.

For a start, the chords underneath are E and A. The riff follows the chords starting on a B note in the E chord before moving through a Csharp to a D. When we come to the A chord the guitar is playing a D, creating an A sus4 chord that then resolves to the Csharp and a straight A chord.

So it’s taken a suspended chord we’re very used to from choral music (and lots of other styles) and transposed it to a rhythm and blues setting.

The Kylie Minogue hook is worth mentioning because the meat of it is so wonderfully simple – all those off beat notes, plus a melody that traces a simple line between two chords that are a fifth apart – just like in Satisfaction.

I’ve only watched the one video from this website, and they definitely look worthwhile. Whether the ugly sales page is a good move is up to you.

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