"Use the talents you possess, for the woods would be very silent if no birds sang except the best".
~ Henry Van Dyke
I wanted to start the New Year with a topic that seems to be on every songwriter's mind - how do I write a hit song? Whew, what a question!! I didn't think I could answer that one myself seeing as I've never had a "hit" song, so I went to several local writers and asked them. The answers were interesting and enough to fill TWO columns, obviously a good topic.
Number one, honesty and integrity. Norm Strauss, award-winning local writer says, "…there has to be something that tells me the writer really felt what he/she was writing about." Randall Robinson and Pat Brown of ten2nine said, "Approach your art with honesty and passion. Tap deep into the subject and find the essence," "Do this because it's in your blood ~ because you have to ~ because it's your drug of choice," says Lorraine Hart, producer/songwriter.
Next, simple repetition is powerful. Non-complex, slightly familiar tunes. Don't try and copy every tune that's ever been a hit, but keeping to a simple groove may capture your audience quicker. Study popular songs paying close attention to the ones that are well written. Listen to the rhyme scheme, the arrangement, the tune. "It has to have a memorable hook or chorus you can hum or rhythmically drum back," says Noel Wentworth.
"Have a plan, listen to those that have gone before, learn your craft ~ the beats, the hooks, the riffs ~ then throw out all the rules and dance to your own muse, " says Hart. "Be prolific," says Robinson. "Keep writing and hone the craft, even if every song written thus far doesn't seem like a hit." Practice, practice, practice…. practice in songwriting develops your skills. Practice some more.
"Be inspired. Writing a song without inspiration is like shoving toothpaste back into the tube," says Keane Li (www.festivio.net). Powerful feelings can connect you to your audience. "Whether through the lyrics, melody, movement, beat, emotion or all of these, the audience must identify with the song," says Robinson. "What really gets me pushing the "repeat" button is that I feel like I'm getting to know more about the writer every time I listen to the songs," says Strauss.
Next month I will continue this topic but I wanted to leave you with this great quote from Lorraine Hart, "Aiming for writing a hit song is like buying lotto tickets in order to win the money-massive aggravation each time you "lose". Aim for the payoff of writing a good song for your own changing, growing standards and the satisfaction is more attainable each time."
I couldn't agree more. I don't think it's that easy to define what a "hit" song really is. But writing a "great" song? Now that's something I could get my teeth into. Until next month, KEEP WRITING!!!
If you can walk, you can dance. If you can talk, you can sing.
~ Zimbabwe Proverb
Jane Eamon is a prolific performing songwriter in the Okanagan Valley. Veteran of many songwriting workshops, she's currently one of the hosts of the popular Songwriters in the Round series in Kelowna. Email her at: firstname.lastname@example.org.
Visit her website: www.janeandgord.com