Over the course of many years, I have come to discover that there are 6 elements that can make a really effective song. If any of the elements is missing or lack good quality within that area, the song will typically lack as a whole. This blog will focus on the aspects of the elements that make up a great song.
It is important to give attention to each element of the song; all of the elements together are what make great songs that can change the life of an artist, producer, songwriter, or a listener.
1.) Purpose and Message: The message of the song is such an obvious statement, but failed many times by new songwriters. Your song should deliver some type of message. Whether it is subtle or not, it is important that the song does have a good focal message. Many times, I will read the songs from new songwriters, and ge the question “what do you think?” 8 times out of 10, I will let the writer know, the song is all over the place, and lacks a central message. It is real easy in the writing process to get lost in the random thoughts that are making up a song that you might be trying to write. After you have fully written your song, read it and ask yourself, “what am I trying to say?” If you can answer that, you are on the right track.
2.) Mojo: The term mojo is what I like to refer to as the “cool” factor. Now determining coolness is completely circumstantial. It is hard for one to say what is cool and others to agree. Luckily, human behavior allows us to think tribally, and reflect what is cool, by what the mass population likes. If your song lacks acceptance whether it is cultural, lyrical, ideology, or content; it will most likely fail. You have to ask yourself sometimes, is writing a song about how oxygen and hydrogen make water, cool? Does your song speak the popular culture of your peers that you wish to present it to? If it is not going to reach a mass or niche group of people, your song will just turn into a personal thought on paper. Give it some, mojo!
3.) Rhythm: The rhythm of the song is like building a good foundation to your house. It is important that you set up a good rhythm that the song can build a great melody around. Many times people will subconsciously enjoy the rhythm of a song way before they get into the conscious aspects of meaning, how the melody creates mood. It will be important that they rhythm of the song does not take away from the melody or the lyrics, but rather complements them.
4.) Melody: The melody is the defining portion of the song. This is the part of the music that gets stuck in peoples head, and creates the conscious spectrum of the song. It is important the your melody be focused and not all over the place. Keeping things consistent in your melody will make it easy for all people of all intellects be able to relate to the song. Melodies should stand out, and if you have done your job really well, then people will be able to recognize your song relatively quickly. The key to a good melody is all about music theory. Understanding the basics of music theory will allow for you to create some wonderful melodies, but is not required. Some people tend to have a natural ability to put chords, sounds and hooks together.
5.) Lyrics: This might be another obvious statement, but the quality of your lyrics will have a HUGE impact on how your song is perceived. Writing good lyrics is an art all of its own, and is not for everyone. If you can effectively write lyrics with a focal message that syncs up well with all the other aspects of the song, then you will have overcome probably the hardest part of songwriting. If you would like to read up more the art of songwriting check out some of my other songwriting blogs.
6.) Delivery: How you present your total song package, is the delivery of the song. Remember your delivery should be built around the needs of the song. If you are writing a song on a painful breakup, you might want the song to feel sorrow. If it is a protest song, sing it that way, make the elements that hit home, deliver the message and deliver it well.
Understanding the all elements of a song, will help you improve as a songwriter. If you focus on these different elements and give each one of them focused time and attention, you will find that your songwriting will improve as a whole, the process will become easier for you.
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