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Sep 11

THE PERFECT SONGWRITING FORMULAE

THE PERFECT SONGWRITING FORMULAE

If there is one thing that really inspires me, it is a well written,well crafted song. My 2 favourite songs of all time have to be CAROL KINGS YOU’VE GOT A FRIEND and RUPERT HOLMS ESCAPE(THE PINA COLADA SONG) Watch the videos at end of this post.

My favourite songwriters have to be JAMES TAYLOR and then the CAROL KING, JEFF
GOFFIN team. The 1970’s produced such awesome song-writing.

By contrast today’s mainstream pop is turning out such sterile computer generated grooves. The dance groove seems to be the most important thing. The songwriting,poetry,musical form seems secondary. Fortunately there are some wonderful exceptions.

At the moment I’m living in Austria for the summer, I’m driving about 1000km a week,up and down the motorways between gigs. That means a lot of radio listening. Radio Kaernton and Radio Salzburg.
My first impression of the German/Austrian pop music was pretty boring. However I must say it has really grown on me. The more I listen to it I realise how good the songwriting is. The song writers obviously work to a formulae of well constructed,crafted songs.
It reminds of my days as a music student. My favourite subject was songwriting. The couple of years following my studies, I was leading bands playing original Christian songs.
I would spend hours analysing form,chord progressions,melodies and lyrics. Much of what I learnt in those days I’m seeing in these German songs.

SO WHAT WOULD BE THE PERFECT SONGWRITING FORMULAE.

1) Strong catch phrase/line, hook.

2) Strong driving chorus.

3) Strong melody line in chorus.

4) Strong dynamic contrast between verse and chorus.

5) Good poetry.

6) Strong introduction.

7) A good bridge.

8) Last but not least a good GIT/MIT type guitar or sax solo.  (Guitar/Music Institute of
Technology….graduates from this school play very commercial, well constructed solos)

YOU’VE GOT A FRIEND. James Taylor version
– Perfect intro
– Awesome chord progression.
– Classic form V1,Ch,V2,Ch,bridge,Ch.
– Incredible poetry.

RUPERT HOLMES. Escape (The Pina Colada Song)
– To me this song is poetic perfection.
–  Strong intro/interlude riff that breaks the versus up.
–  The poetry is the most important feature in this song. The chord progression and      melodic line (in a riff style) are simple and repetitive so they don’t distract from the poetry.
– My favourite line in the song is …AAH ITS YOU….. It is so understated,almost throw away,to me, making it so powerful.

HOWARD CARPENDALE. Good news.
This is a classic example of the German pop song. Howard Carpendale is South African born from Durban. He has established himself as one of the top artists in Germany.
– The sax intro reminds me of Gerry Rafferties Baker Street.
– Strong contrast between verse and chorus.
– Strong catch phrase in English, making it a nice novelty in a German song.

PLAYING COVER MUSIC AND CREATIVITY
I had my couple of years of being “The artist” and doing original music,and not making any money. It is a strange phenomenon that when I’m playing cover music, I can’t write songs. I took a couple of years out of being a professional musician to be a Pastor, and in those years I was very productive with song writing, putting scripture to music. As soon as I started playing covers again,I stopped writing songs.
If any of you experience the same, let me know by leaving a comment.SONG WRITING.Carol King, Jeff Coffin,James Taylor, Howard Carpendale,Gerry Rafferty, You’ve got a friend, Escape, Baker Street, German / Austrin Pop, catch phrase,hook,verses, chorus, bridge, GIT, MIT, lyrics, poetry

1 comment

  1. Music Producer Nashville

    Great job in describing what goes into a great song. The signature solo or instrumental lick that makes a song instantly recognizable is very important.

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