How to Write a Song Intro like a Legend 

Learn how to use a music theory hack from Bob Marley “Could You Be Loved” to write a legendary song intro that won’t get skipped!

Hello revolutionary music makers, we are Kate Harmony and Ray Harmony (AKA Revolution Harmony), and welcome to Hack Music Theory. We help you make great music that stands out, so you can move and grow your audience! If that sounds useful to you, then subscribe to our YouTube channel and hit that bell to get notified every Friday, when we publish our new video. Also, if you’re new to our channel, be sure to download our free book “12 Music Theory Hacks to Learn Scales & Chords” (link below). Alright, it’s time to open your DAW to hack music theory. But first… tea!

The opening riff in “Could You Be Loved” by Bob Marley & The Wailers creates a truly legendary intro! Despite being written 40 years ago, “Could You Be Loved” is more relevant than ever, because its intro hooks us in the first five seconds. And with a quarter of all songs on Spotify getting skipped in their first five seconds, it’s absolutely essential to have a great intro, and that’s exactly what we can learn from this legendary song. What makes this intro so remarkable? Four things: First, it’s simple. Second, it’s singable. Third, it’s interesting. And fourth, it teases. Now let’s explore these in more detail. The riff is simple, because it consists of only three notes: the 1, 2 and ♭3. And that makes this riff extremely easy to sing, which makes it extremely catchy. But, while the melodic side of the riff is simple, the rhythmic side is really interesting, which prevents it from getting annoying. And that is vital, because catchy music that gets annoying after a few listens will be nothing more than a trend. For music to become legendary, it needs to be simultaneously catchy and interesting, and “Could You Be Loved” is the perfect example of that! And lastly, this intro hooks us by confidently teasing, without giving everything away, like so many artists do these days in a desperate attempt to avoid that five second skip.

Alright, now you’re gonna learn how to use the music theory from “Could You Be Loved” to make your own legendary intro. And remember, just like all our lessons, you can use this theory hack to make music in whatever genre you want. And to show this, in our playthrough at the end, we’ll switch from Reggae to EDM without changing the riff, chords, bass or drums. Okay, so for the example in this lesson, we’ll be using our version that we made earlier. So, start by setting up two bars of 4/4, with your grid set to 1/16 notes, and your tempo set to 103 BPM. “Could You Be Loved” is in the key of B minor, so we’ll use it too.

This is the element that you wanna keep simple, so choose only a handful of notes for your riff. We centred ours around the 1, ♭3, 2, and ♭7, then we threw in the 5 and ♭6 at the end for variation. And be sure you also change something in your second bar, just for a little variation. Lastly, you wanna play the root note a few times in each bar, in order to establish it as your home and anchor your riff into the key.

And just a quick heads up before we get to Step 2. If you need help writing riffs, melodies, chord progressions, bass lines, counterpoint harmonies, and more, then check out our Songwriting & Producing PDF (click & scroll down). It also comes with MIDI file examples!

This is the element that you wanna make more interesting, to prevent your catchy riff from getting annoying. And the way we do that is by using syncopation, which is when you accent an off-beat. Now, in order to create that syncopation, you’ll want a few 1/8 note and 1/16 note rests in your riff, which also gives it space to breathe. Lastly, here’s a little bonus hack for you. Start your song with four bars of your riff on its own, which will hook and tease your listeners. Then, drop your bass and drums in bar five. And finally, bring your vocals in a couple bars after that.

Right, so now you’ve got a Bob-inspired intro. Congratulations! But, if you wanna make a legendary song like “Could You Be Loved”, then you’ll need many more minutes of music! So, if you wanna learn how to write other sections (verse/chorus/bridge) for an existing section, how to transition between sections (especially when they’re in different keys), and how to structure and arrange your song, then join our online apprenticeship course.

Kate & Ray Harmony (AKA Revolution Harmony)
Music Teachers & Producers in Vancouver BC, Canada


Take Your Music to the Next Level

"12 Music Theory Hacks to Learn Scales & Chords" will give you a super solid music theory foundation in 30 minutes!

This is our best-selling PDF, which includes MIDI file examples. Learn the essential hacks for songwriting and producing, like our Melody Checklist (the ultimate list of do's and don'ts for writing great melodies). You'll also learn how to write chord progressions, bass lines, riffs, counterpoint harmonies, and more!

After learning our essential hacks, it's time to put them to practical use and start writing some new songs. Lesson packs include step-by-step PDF guides to making music for different instruments and in different genres (electronic, metal, soundtrack, etc.), as well as multitrack MIDI files of the examples.

Go from a blank screen to a finished song, in this online video course. Learn how to write new sections for an existing section, how to transition between sections in different keys, how to structure and arrange, and much more! This course has been called "life-changing" many times, so join 700+ music makers now (from all genres), who are learning Ray's secret hack: Song Whispering.

Hack Music Theory is a pioneering DAW method for making great music that stands out, so you can move and grow your audience! Taught by multi-award-winning music lecturer Ray Harmony, and his protégé wife Kate Harmony, from their studio in Vancouver BC, Canada. Ray is the author of critically-acclaimed book series "Hack Music Theory", and has made music with Serj Tankian (System of a Down), Tom Morello (Rage Against the Machine), Steven Wilson (Porcupine Tree), Devin Townsend (Strapping Young Lad), Ihsahn (Emperor), Kool Keith (Ultramagnetic MCs), Madchild (Swollen Members), and many more! Kate has the highest grade distinction in Popular Music Theory from the London College of Music, and is the only person on the planet who's been trained by Ray to teach his method. On that note, the "Hack Music Theory" YouTube channel teaches relevant and instantly-usable music theory for producers, DAW users, and all other music makers (songwriters, singers, guitarists, bassists, drummers, etc.) in all genres, from EDM to R&B, pop to hip-hop, reggae to rock, electronic to metal (and yes, we djefinitely djent!).

© 2019 Revolution Harmony
Revolution Harmony is Ray Harmony & Kate Harmony
All content (script & music) in video by Revolution Harmony
Thumbnail photo of Bob Marley by Denis O’Regan/Getty Images