The thing I find about great songs, is that they are crafted in a way that they tell a story, not necessarily with its words, but with rhythm, dynamics and feel.
There are countless arguments and discussions into what makes a great song, but as a songwriter, I know that there is a limited science to creating a great song. Songs are made to find an audience, and it’s the audience, not the critics or even the musicians that determine when a song is great. So the question I’m going to explore is one that all songwriters ask. What makes a great song, great?
Some of the song writing greats such as Burt Bacharach and Diane Warren seem to have a magic formula that has produced a succession of hits through a multitude of artists. Lennon and McCartney have a catalogue of songs that have shaped music as we know it today. Today, the likes of Bruno Mars and Alicia Keys storm the pop charts with their work. Then there are those artists who have come up with the great hit song, for it only to be surrounded by boring ‘filler’ tracks on an album.
More often than not, I’ve found that the great songs need time and a few rounds to develop and mature. Paul McCartney noted in his autobiography, that the first draft of his prolific song ‘Yesterday’ were remarkably different. The opening line was ‘Scrambled eggs, oh my baby how I love your legs’.
The problem with today’s popular music, is that a lot of it isn’t that popular with the masses that are still forced to listen to it. My theory, is that the producers are given a tight deadline and have to move quickly and force songs to be manufactured in a short timeframe. Often the artist’s best work, whilst it may take a shorter time to write, needs much longer for it to develop and mature. This could explain why ‘break through’ artists, only break through, with their first album. Their second album is rushed, to catch the audience’s attention span, with the songs less organic and more processed.
More often than not, the songwriter is often a taunted soul, often mocked by creativity itself, as that creative spark is not a tap they can turn on and off at will. Trying too hard to create a story can sometimes render the writer, lost for words.
I would argue that songwriting is more of a craft than an art, just as the act of painting is the craft and the painting itself is the art. Great songs are crafted, and it could take 10 minutes or it could take 10 weeks. However, in my experience I feel that my best songs seem to have found me, rather than me creating them. It almost seems like these songs are stories from the subconscious.
Jomar is an independent songwriter, producer and performing artist. He is an Australian of Filipino origin now based in Copenhagen, Denmark. He started writing music in 1985 and has had professional gigs over the years. He has also worked with artist development, management and promotion, and is now focusing on song writing. In 2007 he started the Music Producers Forum online community and blog, organising meet-ups in Australia and Europe.
Jomar is always on the lookout for talented bands, musicians and vocalists to compose music for or to produce and promote. You can find him on Facebook, Twitter, YouTube, and Reverbnation and of course his website www.JomarMusic.com