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Why Good Titles Are More Valuable Than Ever

The component parts of contemporary songwriting are going in many directions at once.

While some rhyming becomes more and more intricate… other rhyming gets looser; sometimes in the same song. Some melodies get longer and more elaborate… others get simpler. Lyric content and storytelling of some songs get more layered and complex… while others get more abstract… and others more simplistic and repetitive.

Harmonies… well, we have been going through a period of simpler chords lately; not as much diversity there. But that’s bound to change (with some artists and genres, it never went away).

This is sure – song structure has certainly loosened up. For example, in 20th Century songwriting, melodies were almost always the same Verse to Verse. Not always true anymore – in some cases, far from true. And now, pre-Choruses are sometimes changed or even skipped after the second or third Verse (or even left out the first time). Arrangements of even mainstream hits are often quite idiosyncratic.

One thing hasn’t changed much: the value of a straightforward, catchy Chorus with a great Title.

If anything, as what surrounds it has become more complex and less predictable, a simple Title-based Chorus can be even more precious. It orients and grounds the song and its listener.

It’s always been, and still almost always is, useful, even necessary, to know the central idea of one’s song and to stay focused on it. But now, having that focus can create even more leeway and freedom in other sections.

This is certainly not a new thing in songs (see here). But increasing freedom in Verses has become commonplace… making the directness of the Chorus even more important.

I think it’s more helpful than ever to be on the lookout for Title ideas. To keep that notebook or voice memo section. To not let a good one get away.

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2 responses to “Why Good Titles Are More Valuable Than Ever”

  • One practical consideration re. titles: While a title is not subject to copyright protection, and therefore you can use any title you like without fear of infringement, it is a good idea in practice to name your song with a unique title.
    The reason for this is potential confusion by PROs, that could cause you to lose royalty payments, if your song gets conflated with another song of the same title.
    I recently wrote a song for which the logical title would have been “Learning to Fly”. However a quick Google search revealed both a Tom Petty and a Pink Floyd song of that title. So I changed it to something entirely different.
    Since my music is used primarily as production library music, there is just no point in putting out a song with a title that makes it difficult to track or identify.
    I’m not saying change the lyric. Just make sure that the title is unique.

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