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Beginner’s Guide to Writing a Hit Song

Music is like a magical language that can make you feel all sorts of things. Just like when you read a story or look at a picture, music can tell stories and take you on a journey of emotions. When you hear music, you know immediately what kind of feeling the music gives off. But when you try to emulate the effort by creating music, it just doesn’t hit the same. Let’s look at what makes some music so desirable, and how to make music that captures your attention and makes you want to listen again and again (without complicated music jargons that don’t make any sense… Well, we had to include some jargon, but only the minimum amount!)

Melodic Hooks: Catchy Tunes That Stick in Your Head

Imagine you have a toy that you really, really like. It’s so much fun that you always want to play with it. It’s like your go-to toy that brings a big smile to your face. In music, there’s something like that favorite toy, but for your ears. We call it a “melodic hook.” This is a special part of a song – a small tune or musical pattern – that’s so catchy that it stays in your head even after the song is done. Just like how you remember your favorite toy and want to play with it all the time, a melodic hook makes you want to listen to the song over and over again.

A melodic hook is like magic because once you hear it, it’s like it’s stuck in your mind. It’s kind of like when you learn a new rhyme or a cool saying – you can’t help but say it again and again. Music does the same thing to your ears! It’s a tune that’s so interesting that your brain wants to hear it more, like solving a puzzle over and over.

“Uptown Funk” opens with a highly energetic and catchy chorus that immediately grabs your attention. Bruno Mars’ infectious vocals and the upbeat rhythm create an irresistible hook that you can’t help but sing along to.

Think about your favorite pop song. You know, the one that makes you want to dance or sing along whenever you hear it. In many pop songs, there’s a special part called the “chorus.” It’s like the most exciting part of the song, and it usually comes back a few times. This chorus often has a super fun and catchy tune – that’s the melodic hook!

Imagine this pop song starting with a chorus that’s like a burst of happiness. It’s like the beginning of a really cool adventure story that makes you curious about what’s going to happen next. This part of the song is like the opening scene of a movie where you get a sneak peek at all the exciting things that are about to unfold. It’s like the song saying, “Hey, get ready for something awesome – stick around and listen!”

How to Make Melodic Hooks

Simple and Memorable Tunes: A melodic hook doesn’t have to be complicated. In fact, the simpler it is, the easier it is for people to remember. Think of a catchy tune that you can hum or sing without much effort.

Repetition and Variation: Repeating the same tune a few times in a song helps it stick in your mind. But don’t forget to add a little twist or change to keep it interesting each time you hear it.

Play with Rhythm: Changing the rhythm or timing of the melody can make it stand out and grab your attention. It’s like a surprise twist in a story that you didn’t see coming.

Surprising Notes: Sometimes, using unexpected or unique notes can make the melody more intriguing. It’s like a plot twist in a book that makes you go, “Whoa, I didn’t see that coming!”

Match the Mood: Make sure the melodic hook fits the mood of the song. If it’s a happy song, the hook should sound happy too. If it’s a sad song, the hook might be a bit more somber.

Creating a melodic hook is like making a special treat that everyone wants to taste. Musicians use their creativity and imagination to come up with catchy tunes that make you want to listen again and again. So, the next time you’re humming along to a song, remember that it’s the melodic hook doing its magic, just like your favorite toy making you smile every time you play with it!


Lyricism and Storytelling: Words that Paint Pictures

Imagine when someone sits down and tells you a story about a brave explorer venturing into the jungle or a magical castle hidden in the clouds. How does that make you feel? Stories have a way of making us feel emotions and take us to different places in our minds. Well, in music, singers do something similar using something called “lyrics.” Lyrics are special words that they sing, and these words can tell all sorts of stories.

In “Fast Car,” Tracy Chapman tells a heartfelt story of personal struggle and dreams. Her poignant lyrics touch on themes of escape and hope, conveying a universal feeling of wanting a better life. The song’s acoustic guitar and Chapman’s emotive vocals enhance the emotional impact.

Imagine a folk singer who loves playing the guitar and singing songs. They might write a song about something that happened to them – like a time they felt really happy or really sad. And when they sing this song, they’re sharing their feelings with you, just like when a friend tells you about their day at school or the park.

But here’s the amazing part: folk singers can also write songs that lots of people can understand and feel too. It’s like writing a story that makes you think, “Wow, I’ve felt that way before!” Imagine this singer creating lyrics that talk about feelings that everyone goes through, like love, friendship, or even missing someone. These lyrics are like a magic bridge that connects what the singer feels with what you feel.

How to Write Lyrics and Tell Stories through Music

Choose a Theme or Idea: Start by thinking about what you want to talk about in your song. It could be a feeling, a place, an event, or even something you imagine.

Create a Story Structure: Just like in a storybook, songs have a beginning, middle, and end. Decide how you want your story to unfold – what happens first, then next, and how it ends.

Use Vivid Imagery: Paint pictures with your words. Instead of saying “I was sad,” you could say “Tears like raindrops fell from my eyes.” This helps people imagine what you’re feeling.

Show Emotions: Use words that describe how you feel. Are you happy, excited, or maybe a little bit nervous? Your words should make people understand the emotions you want to share.

Be Honest and Personal: Sharing your own experiences and feelings makes your lyrics authentic. But you can also mix in universal feelings that many people can relate to.

Rhyme and Rhythm: Playing with words that sound alike (rhyming) and creating a rhythm with your lyrics can make them more enjoyable to listen to.

Create a Catchy Chorus: Just like a story has a repeating theme, a chorus in a song is a part that comes back again and again. Make it something people want to sing along to.

Remember, writing lyrics is like painting with words. It’s your chance to express yourself and create something that others can connect with. When you listen to a song with meaningful lyrics, it’s like you’re taking a journey into someone’s heart and mind – just like when you read a storybook and get lost in a world of imagination!


Dynamic Variation: Loud and Soft Adventures

Picture yourself on a thrilling roller coaster. It starts off slowly, climbing higher and higher. Then suddenly, whoosh! It speeds down, making your heart race and your tummy feel funny. But wait, there are moments when it slows down, giving you a chance to catch your breath before the next exciting twist. Well, in music, there’s a way to make your ears feel something similar – it’s like a roller coaster ride for your hearing!

“Bohemian Rhapsody” is a masterpiece of dynamic variation. It starts softly with a piano introduction, drawing listeners in with a calm and reflective mood. Then, it transitions into explosive rock segments, including the iconic operatic section and the powerful chorus. Queen masterfully combines soft verses with explosive choruses to create a captivating musical journey.

Imagine a rock band with electric guitars, drums, and a powerful singer. They’re playing a song that starts off softly, like a whisper in your ear. The singer’s voice is gentle, and the music creates a calm and mysterious feeling. But just when you’re getting used to the calm, something amazing happens. The guitars get louder, the drums start to pound, and the singer’s voice becomes strong and full of energy! It’s like the music suddenly roars to life, just like a big, exciting part in a story.

Now, imagine this rock band going back to a softer part again. The guitars and drums calm down, and the singer’s voice becomes gentler. It’s like the roller coaster slowing down after a thrilling drop, letting you catch your breath. But don’t get too comfortable, because you know that another exciting part is coming up. This back-and-forth between loud and soft, like a musical roller coaster, keeps you interested and excited to see where the music goes next.

How to Incorporate Dynamic Variation: Creating Musical Thrills

Start Softly: Begin your music softly, like a gentle introduction. This grabs the listener’s attention and creates a sense of anticipation.

Build Up Gradually: Slowly increase the volume and intensity of the music. It’s like climbing up the roller coaster hill before the big drop.

Create Contrast: Make the loud parts really stand out by having quieter parts before or after them. This contrast makes the loud moments feel even more exciting.

Change Instruments: Experiment with using different instruments or sounds for the soft and loud parts. This adds variety and keeps the music fresh.

Use Silence: Sometimes, a moment of silence can be just as powerful as a loud note. It’s like a pause on the roller coaster before the big plunge.

Build to a Climax: The loudest part of your music should be the most intense and exciting. It’s like the highest point of the roller coaster ride – the moment everyone waits for.

Create an Emotional Journey: Use dynamic variation to match the emotions of your song. Loud parts can represent excitement, while soft parts can convey introspection or calm.

Incorporating dynamic variation in your music is like taking your listeners on a thrilling adventure. Just like a roller coaster ride that has moments of suspense, excitement, and relaxation, your music becomes a journey of feelings and surprises. By playing with the volume and intensity, you can make your music a captivating experience that keeps listeners on the edge of their seats, just like a great story that takes you through a range of emotions!


Emotional Progression: Music that Makes You Feel

Think about how music can make you feel different things. When you hear a bouncy and cheerful tune, it might make you want to dance around. But when you listen to a slow and quiet melody, it might make you feel calm and peaceful. Well, guess what? Musicians have a magical way of making you feel all sorts of emotions just by changing the music – it’s like they’re painting with feelings!

“Adagio for Strings” begins with a serene and introspective melody played by the strings. The music gradually builds in intensity, adding more instruments and increasing the emotional depth. The composition reaches its triumphant climax with a powerful swell of sound, conveying a sense of both sadness and catharsis.

Imagine a huge group of musicians playing together, like in a big orchestra. They start by playing their instruments softly, like a gentle breeze on a calm day. The music they make feels soothing, like a warm hug. It’s as if you’re standing in a beautiful meadow, feeling relaxed and happy.

But then, something amazing happens. The musicians start playing a bit louder, and the music becomes more energetic. It’s like the wind is picking up, and you can feel a sense of excitement building. The orchestra is like a group of superheroes getting ready for an epic adventure!

As the music goes on, the musicians play even louder and faster. The melodies become grand and powerful, like the climax of an incredible story. You can almost see the superheroes soaring through the sky, triumphing over challenges. The music feels like it’s wrapping you in a wave of energy and triumph, just like in those action-packed scenes in your favorite movies.

How to Add Emotional Progression in Your Music: Creating a Musical Journey

Plan Your Journey: Decide what emotions you want your music to convey. Do you want it to start calm and become exciting, or start happy and turn sad? Having a plan helps guide your music’s emotional progression.

Set the Mood: Begin your music with the mood you want to establish. If you want calm, start softly and gently. If you want excitement, start with energy and enthusiasm.

Gradually Intensify: Slowly increase the energy, volume, and pace of your music. It’s like turning up the excitement step by step, making listeners feel more engaged.

Use Different Instruments: Experiment with different instruments and sounds to evoke different emotions. High-pitched instruments can create tension, while deep ones can add warmth.

Change Chords and Melodies: Alter the chords and melodies as your music progresses. Changing from minor chords (sad) to major chords (happy) can create emotional shifts.

Create Peaks and Valleys: Have moments where the intensity builds, and other moments where it eases back. This variation keeps the emotional journey interesting.

Build to a Climax: Reach the most intense point of your music where the emotions are at their peak. This is like the most exciting part of a roller coaster ride.

Provide Resolution: After the climax, gradually bring the music back to a quieter place. It’s like coming down from an emotional high and finding a sense of closure.

Adding emotional progression to your music is like telling a story without words. By changing the way the music sounds, you’re guiding the listener’s feelings from one emotion to another. It’s like taking them on an adventure – from calm to exciting, from happy to triumphant. So, when you’re composing, remember that your music has the power to take people on a journey of emotions, just like a story that makes you laugh, cry, and feel all sorts of things!


Take Your Listeners on a Journey

So, just like when you read a storybook, music can also tell stories and take you on exciting journeys of emotions. Musicians use special tricks like catchy tunes, storytelling with words, changing between loud and soft sounds, and guiding your feelings to create music that you can’t help but love. The more you listen and learn about music, the more you’ll discover its incredible power to make you feel and imagine amazing things!

See how musicians at 3BX are embracing their journey into their music!

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