Once I get a new song rolling I usually have some idea of where it’s going. This idea functions like directions on a map; it gives me a sense of how my journey will go, making it easier to move forward. It’s mostly intuitive, and it helps.
Sometimes it makes sense to keep with my ‘plan’. But the song, as it takes shape, has a life of its own that needs attention, and often the song has to be customized; the plan has to be altered.
A while back I had a new song and I thought I was pretty much done; I was preparing to record it. It had 3 Verses. But it felt like it needed to start with a double Verse before the first Chorus (unusual for me). It also had a very short Bridge – 2 bars! (I’m partial to short Bridges.)
So I had 2 Verses, Chorus, Verse, Chorus, short Bridge, short Instrumental break…
Then what? Going directly to Chorus repeats wasn’t the answer in this case – the song didn’t feel like it was ready to end yet.
Musically a final Verse felt right before going out… but Damn… 4 Verses! I didn’t know if I had that much to say on the topic at hand! But it felt like the song needed it. I bit the bullet and worked on another Verse, hoping it wouldn’t be filler (I actually had a final Verse I liked, so the new one would be the 3rd Verse).
After some scribbling and head-scratching, I ended up with a lyric for a new Verse that I thought enhanced the song (not filler). I think the song works better overall now.
This kind of thing can come up in any aspect of a song – structure, melody, lyric, chords, rhythm, etc. And it can often have to do with removing, not adding.
I start with an idea of how it’s going to work, but when the rubber hits the road and the song is more or less up and running, I need to remain flexible. This isn’t a time for complacency; it’s often when the most critical adjustments need to be made.
I’ve posted below the song I’ve been discussing. Do you think my adjustments make sense?
Let me know your thoughts in the Comments section below:
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