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The Structure of Musical Recordings Understanding how songs are written and how to listen The Songwriting Process Songs can be written by the MUSICIAN, or a dedicated SONGWRITER. They sometimes get assistance from the PRODUCER

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the structure of musical recordings

The Structure of Musical Recordings

Understanding how songs are written and how to listen

the songwriting process
The Songwriting Process
  • Songs can be written by the MUSICIAN, or a dedicated SONGWRITER.
  • They sometimes get assistance from the PRODUCER
  • Songwriting can be credited to a SINGLE PERSON (usually the lead singer), or the ENTIRE BAND
  • Why do you think this would make a difference?
ascap bmi
ASCAP/BMI
  • ASCAP = The American Society of Composers, Authors and Publishers
  • BMI = Broadcast Music Incorporated
  • They are technically NON-PROFIT
  • Hundreds of Millions of dollars in ROYALTIES paid to SONGWRITERS
  • Venues PAY money, members PAY membership FEES
  • Payout is based on RADIO AIRPLAY: Does that make sense?
writing the song
Writing the song
  • Subject Matter: Are you writing for YOURSELF or for a specific AUDIENCE? This is where a producer can help
  • INSPIRATION: It’s hard to force, but sometimes has to be
  • KNOW THE GENRE: What has already been done? What can I do that is new and fresh?
  • Know where the song fits in the BIG PICTURE
  • For example: “Where will the song fit on the album?”
song structure
Song Structure
  • Musical forms can be structured with LETTERS
  • A = Usually always the first part, such as a verse
  • B = Often the CHORUS
  • C = Could be a BRIDGE or SOLO section
  • We use words like INTRO, VERSE, CHORUS, BRIDGE, SOLO, OUTRO
structure cont d
Structure Cont’d.
  • More sections can be get complicated, but sometimes are needed
  • Explains how many times certain sections REPEAT
  • ABA form = TERNARY Form (from Classical music)
  • It is a RE-STATEMENT of the main theme
  • This puts the song in the listener’s head, makes it CATCHY
build the song
Build the Song
  • Where will you start? RHYTHM? What will your TEMPO be? How LONG will the song be?
  • A typical pop song is somewhere between 3-4 minutes
  • BASS can set up the chord structure
  • What kind of INSTRUMENTATION will you have?
  • How DENSE do you want your mix to be?
the hook
The HOOK
  • It’s the part that you REMEMBER, that stays with you
  • Think of a hook that might have driven you crazy
  • Most hip-hop music has a clear hook in each chorus
  • Might have a unique twist: Ex. Lady Gaga
  • Could be chorus, or pre-post chorus (Rhianna: “You can stand under my umbrella – ella - ella
drafts
DRAFTS
  • It’s like writing a book: Proofread!
  • Get FEEDBACK from members of the band, producer, engineer, friends, etc.
  • Don’t be afraid to TWEAK and make changes
  • Consider recording multiple versions
example
Example
  • Michael Jackson’s “Billie Jean”
  • Intro: Is there a hook?
  • Verse into Pre-Chorus (“People always told me…”)
  • Chorus (“Billie Jean is not my lover…”)
  • Verse B (what changes?)
  • Chorus B (What changes?)
  • What do they add in the Bridge?
mix goals
Mix Goals
  • Controlling what stands out: The Mix can be for marketing
  • What does the band feature: Vocal? Guitar? Something else?
  • COMPRESSION: Can draw more attention, better for radio… also takes away dynamics, possibly emotion
  • PANNING: Usually not as extreme as early stereo recordings. How does phasing come into play?