Learn the No.1 way to hook people with your intros, so your songs don’t end up in the one-quarter of all songs played on Spotify that are skipped within their first five seconds. But first... Tea!
Hello, we are Kate Harmony & Ray Harmony (AKA Revolution Harmony), and welcome to the Hack Music Theory show, where you are empowered with notation-free theory for making great music in DAWs.
HACK 1 - Save The Chorus
As we spoke about in our last video, a great intro gives away just enough hooky musical content (to pull your listeners in), but no more than that. This allows you to hold back the vast majority of content, which you can then drip out through the rest of your song, to ensure your listeners are hooked till the very last note. It’s worth noting here, that this approach is actually relatively new. In the old music industry (where people bought music), there was no need to make a hooky intro, as listeners would usually wait until the chorus before deciding whether to buy the song. This allowed us to be way more creative with our intros. However, in the new music industry (where people stream music, and literally have tens of millions of songs in the palm of their hand), listeners are arriving at their verdict within seconds, instead of waiting to hear the chorus. This puts us under enormous pressure to make our intros ultra mega hooky, in order to avoid that dreaded skip button (or the swipe). Sadly though, this leads far too many songwriters and producers to give away their choruses in their intros. But as a result of this colossal compromise, listeners get bored halfway through these songs, as not enough content was held back to maintain their attention till the end. It’s important to remember here, that every song is different, and therefore requires a different structure. So, while using a stripped-down version of your chorus for an intro may work for some of your songs, it will definitely not be the right structure for most of your songs. And yes, there is a way to have your chorus and eat it! All you need to do is write a new section (specifically for your intro), which is super hooky, too. This gives your streaming listeners what they demand, while also allowing you to save the chorus for later in your song.
HACK 2 - Harmonize the Shadow
Millions of years of evolution has hardwired us to instantly connect with the human voice, so the No.1 way to hook your listeners with your intro, is vocals! So, start by writing a short melodic phrase, using just a few notes (we’re using the 2, the 1, and the ♭3). Also, be sure to use syncopation, which is the accenting of an off-beat (we start our melodic phrase on a 1/16 note syncopation, then we follow that with an 1/8 note syncopation - super groovy!). Now, copy and paste your phrase into bar two, and for variation, move it left or right to start on a different beat. Then, copy and paste those two phrases into bars three and four, and mute them. The first two phrases are your lead melody, and the second two phrases are its shadow. This “shadow melody” is gonna be sung in your backing vocals, and your lead melody is gonna harmonize it. But remember, shadows are slightly distorted, so be sure to make a little change to your shadow, for variation. Our little change was adding more syncopation to our shadow, by singing the last note (in both phrases) a 1/16 early. Far too many intros use far too much repetition (in a desperate attempt to hook people), so this hack allows you to use the repetition needed to hook people, but, by passing that repetition over to your backing vocals, it also allows your lead vocals to sing something new, so your listeners don’t get bored. Finally, connect the two halves of your lead melody, by adding a few notes in between, and you’re done!
The example in this video is the intro section from of our upcoming single “Down with the Drama”, which features the amazing Sarah Serene on vocals. If you missed any of our previous videos on this song, check out our YouTube playlist.
Lastly, do you struggle to finish your music? If you do, then check out our online apprenticeship course, where you’ll learn how to effortlessly write new sections for existing sections, how to transition between them, and most importantly, how to finish your songs! For more info, just head on over to our Apprenticeship Course. Alright, enjoy the video/podcast.
Kate & Ray Harmony (AKA Revolution Harmony)
Music Teachers & Producers in Vancouver BC, Canada
1: Read our free book (below) & watch our YouTube videos
2: Read our "Part 1" book & "Songwriting & Producing" PDF
3: Learn how to become a song-whisperer, and effortlessly finish music!
Hack Music Theory is the pioneering notation-free method for making great music. Taught by award-winning music lecturer Ray Harmony, and his protégé (and 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), 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 Hack Music Theory method! While these Hack Music Theory YouTube lessons teach music theory for producers and DAW users, they are designed to accommodate all music makers (songwriters, guitarists, etc.) and all genres, from Electronic Music to R&B, Pop to Hip-Hop, Reggae to Rock, EDM/Dance to Metal (and yes, we djefinitely Djent!).
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