Lifecycle of a Song
From Songwriting to Mastering
Where to start?
What are the different sections of a song? Where can you find inspiration? How do you even begin? I found myself asking the same questions when I first began my journey as an artist and I would take a chance to guess you've asked yourself the same questions. In this article, we will give an overview of the basics of songwriting and the process that goes into making songs from the arrangement and structure of a song, to mastering and distributing.
One of the greatest aspect about a passion is that doing what you're passionate about can bring out the most creative side of you. I firmly believe that all artists write music for their own unique reason. It could be because of strong emotions or it could be inspiration from an event that happened in their life. The easy part is feeling. The hard part is writing. I've had days where I don't have a gram of creativity in my grinder and I have no ideas on what I want to make a song about. Richard Nordquist of ThoughtCo defines writers block as the condition when a skilled writer, with a desire to write, finds themselves unable to write. As artists, we all hit writers block at some point and this can be detrimental especially when starting a song. You can't build a house without a foundation. You need that structure and path but without the subject of the song, you could end up working for hours just to make... nothing. From the perspective of someone who's brain frequently blocks all creativity waves, I have done a few things that have helped stir up some ideas. One of the ways that I have passed writers block is working with sounds that I don't usually work with. It's amazing the amount of sounds available in sound packs and DAWs which can get the juices flowing. Another way that's worked for me is changing the scenery. Sure making beats in the studio is ideal, but have you ever brought your MacBook into IHOP and recorded with your friends? In all seriousness, moving around and setting up in a new location really opens up a window of new opportunities for your mind to release and create. The last way you can break the block, is by taking a break. We love to grind on our DAWs and without realizing it, we could be draining ourselves by over-producing. Going on a walk, getting outside, reading a book, or just laying down are all good get-aways which we all need once in a while.
Songs have structures and formulas which contain pieces and sections like Lego bricks which when combined can make something wonderful. Some people say you should start with the title of the song. I think that the title should be a later piece because you won't really understand the whole song until it's finished. As the name implies, the first part of the song should be your intro.
The first part of a song that sets the mood and tempo for the rest of the song.
The lyrics come in and the story begins. In most songs there are at least two verses that can vary from each other slightly but keep the same feeling. Creativity really flourishes in this part of the song.
This section is optional but helps to build up to the chorus. In many EDM songs this is apparent with the build ups to the drop of the song.
As expected, the section following the pre chorus is called the chorus. This is where you create a memorable impact on the listener. The title of the song is also usually stated in lyrics during the chorus.
This section is something I like to refer to as a "song in a song" because the bridge could be a key change, or a melody change that is separated from the previous repetition.
A return to the original melody which could potentially be an isolation of a previous chord progression. You can slow down and eventually fade out to create an effect of resolution.
Lyrics and Vocals
We talked a bit about ideas for creating lyrics and overcoming writers block, but how do successful artists finalize their lyrics? If you're a rap artist, freestyling is a talent but it's not a longaevus way to write songs for a project. The amount of thought and time that goes into your lyrics depends on what you are writing about. Rhyming is ideal when it comes to lyrics because it supports the emotions you bring in your music while creating an easy image in the listeners head. I was never a poet, in fact I was pretty bad when to came to writing but once I learned more about the structure of poems, it helped give guidelines for my lyrics. Chris Heckman of Studiobinder has a great definition of what a poem is where he says that a poem is a piece of writing that relies on rhyme, rhythm, and meter to evoke a feeling or to convey setting or story. That definition is exactly what lyrics for songs are about. Take these lyrics from The Notorious B.I.Gs Hypnotize as an example: Biggie places his accents and rhymes in an unconventional way that still works with the flow that he brings. He's able to do this while still telling a story and not just telling it but actually having it make sense.
Mixing and Mastering
Mixing and mastering tend to fall into the same conversation when it relates to music as they are both post-production steps but what is the difference between the two? Mixing refers to more of the editing of tracks by separating them and balancing the sounds. This can be done through the use of tools like EQ, compression, reverb, and panning to name a few. Mastering on the other hand is more related to the sound quality and production of the project. If you have varying sounds to each song on a project, a mastering engineer would create a sense of balance between the tracks to give the project a consistent feel. Both of these steps also include finding and fixing any mishaps that they run across when editing.
In The Loop Community
We hope you've learned a bit more about the lifecycle of a song. The entire purpose of In The Loop is to connect growing artists and producers and allow them to showcase their work in a space for constructive feedback while also participating in competitions tailored to the community. Currently, we are creating our community on Discord as we finalize our application, In The Loop. We are always looking for new beta testers to help improve the application so that we can be sure to match our app to user wants and needs. If you would be interested in being a beta tester, we have an Instagram page @itl_studios and we can give more information there if you shoot us a direct message!
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