Writing Effective Songs/Rock Album Arranging
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So you are a musician and want to make a rock album? Well, here are some things you might want to consider!
- A power song A memorable riff, well-suited for arena rock with a classic chorus, deriving mainly between a lead guitarists' riff and the powerful singers' voice. -- example: Def Leppard's "Love Bites" (Hysteria 1987).
- A Hard Rock Song is a power song but has more of a punch then most of them. It is all the way down with one heavy rhythm guitar riff and one hi-gain lead guitar with a lot of hit-hat in drums. THE HARD ROCK SONG HAS A COMBINED RIFF BETWEEN THE RHYTHM AND LEAD GUITARS THEREFORE CREATING A MUCH MORE POWERFUL SOUND. -- Example: AC/DC - Highway To Hell
- A dark song is the "bridge" between the power song and the slow emotional one. It is mainly a story-telling song about an experience or event. It has a very heavy rhythm guitar with a touch of lead guitar, more suited for bass. Example: Black Sabbath (Black Sabbath)
- The slow emotional song is your classic rock ballad, with acoustic guitar, light percussion, and killer lyrics. You want it to make girls pull their hair and scream your name! Great example: "Forever" by KISS
- If you didn't understand what the electric guitar solo meant, listen to Angus Young, Jimi Hendrix or Eddie Van Halen.
- Define your trademark and intrigue the public. There must always be a connection between your message, your style and the public's expectations. In short, you need to find your own secret formula.
- Choose your songs. This is an example of how a 10-song rock album could be organized:
- Hard Rock song 1
- Hard Rock song 2
- Dark Song 1
- punk song 1
- Punk Song 2
- Chill-out Song
- Dark Song 2
- Electric Guitar Solo
- Acoustic Song
- Power Song 1
- Make sure you have a unifying theme.
- Find an agent and/or publicist and begin to market your album. Play gigs wherever you can to get the word out.
- It's important to finish with a power song if you start an album with one. Why? it gives the impression of a brilliant album. The listener's mood must change through the album but return to where it was when he/she started to listen to it. This is more a psychological effect. In 60%? of the cases, listening to a vivid, vibrant song makes you want to listen to the next, in this case, to start listening to the album all over again. which is . . .well, exactly what you hoped for, right?
- When you ask someone for their opinion keep in mind that the same song does not relate to EVERY person in the world the same way. In the media, there is a rule when it comes to news: if it is confirmed by 3 different sources, then it is a valid news story. Choose at least 3 people with different ages, cultures, personalities or styles, to "test" the song on. It's important NOT to get discouraged if they have suggestions or just don't like it. Practice makes perfect, and even though you aim for the sky, you've gotta keep your feet on the ground.
- Determine your "best" song of the album, preferably with the feedback of other informed and honest listeners. In the business, it would be used as the prospective hit single promoting the album. There are three possibilities where to put the best song: Newcomer albums often use the best song as the first song. Works well in connection with a successful hit single (Example: "In The Air Tonight" on Phil Collins' solo debut album "Face Value"). Most artists put their best song in the second place. The first song serves as an introduction to the album. The listener gets used to the sound of the music, may adjust the volume and is ready to fully appreciate the best song when the first song is over (Examples: "Loosing My Religion" on R.E.M.'s "Out of Time", "We Didn't Start the Fire" on Billy Joels "Storm Front", "Song 2" on Blur's "Blur" and many others). Then there is the Bowie formula where the best song is the third song on the album. The best song does not as much stand out as in the first or second place and enhances the musical experience of the whole album (Examples: Many David Bowie albums, "Perfect Day" on Lou Reed's "Transformer" album, produced by Bowie. Nirvana's major debut "Nevermind" also counts for this category as "Come As Your Are" was expected by Geffen to be the hit single, but the opener "Teen Spirit" already gained a ground-breaking success by popular appeal).
- Don't treat this and other similar pages as a bible. The most important thing should be to make the album how you visualize it sounding, the rules should come as an afterthought. If your album still doesn't sound good, load all of the songs into iTunes, put 'em into a playlist and hit shuffle and see what happens.
- The last song is always a chance to do whatever you want, experiment, add little snippets of miscellaneous stuff. Or, if you have the newest greatest rock ballad or ground breaking, moderately slow song, put it here. Basically, this is the place to put whatever song doesn't fit.
- Don't make a solo that's longer than 5 minutes. According to some scientific studies, the brain stops being attentive after 5 min. so it's best to keep it short, or you risk boring your public.
- 15. NOTE: when you have two power songs one after the other, it is best if the styles are as different as possible!