Secret to Good Music Composition

I wrote this up for someone that was having trouble with song structure, but I expanded it to a few other things and I thought it would also be useful for you guys.

About Transitions

What appears to stumping you seems to be transitions. Transitions are literally just white noise/ risers that start at half an 8 bar section and reach their peak at the beginning of the next section, they serve to make things less abrupt. Another version of transitions that keep the interest, and/or introduce new instruments, are fills. A fill could be some percussive hits between the last snare and the next section or some notes that introduce the instrument in the next section. Fills could be anywhere from 1/8 of a bar to 2 bars long depending on your taste/style and BPM.

You should also know that it’s common practice to place drum variations at the end of every 4 or 8 bars (depending on the tempo of your song), could be an extra clap or something that alters the pattern a bit to give it flavor.Once you get this, actual song structure becomes easier to understand.

Typically for something like Future Bass, which is at 140 BPM, there are 16 bars in a section, say a “Drop” but within the Drop, there is an “A” side and a “B” side of it. Each side consists of 8 bars and each is slighty different than the other, most commonly an extra melody on B side. This applies to all sections, each 8 bars of a section is slightly different than the next, except when the next 8 bars is a different section (then it would be drastically different).

If I were to make a FB song at 140 BPM right now, the whole song would be like 129 bars. It would go something like this (each section 16 bars). Intro, Verse, Build, Drop, Bridge, Build, Drop, Outro. If you want to get creative, you can take 8 bars from a section and transfer it to another section, say from the intro to the build and name it a “break.”

To make songs “interesting” you basically just need to make something slightly different for each consecutive half. The next 4 bar, 8 bar, 16 bar (section). The contrast in halfs is the basic principle of good composition. You can apply this principle all the way up to half a song, where the 1st verse, build, and drop, is completely contrasted to the second instance of them later in the song.

The last principle you need to know is that things should ramp upwards. There should be more in the next half to build up energy and interest. But don’t forget that you also need to add contrast with some slow/minimal/soft/etc sections, to not tire out the listener.

If you would like witness these principles in popular songs yourself and make your own notes (highly recommended) but don’t have a PC/DAW, I’d suggest getting GarageBand and downloading a song to files and opening it into it. Match the tempo and write into a notebook every section, additions, automations, when they start, dynamics, etc. Be as detailed as you can about what happens (clap enters with filter cut off… etc etc…) and use that as a basic template for your next production. Keep doing that until you could fully explain to someone what is going on in a song. You will start to hear and be suprised by things only possible with hundreds of focused listens.

Hope this is helpful to you all, advanced and beginners alike :slight_smile:

14 Likes

Thanks for all the great pointers and practical information about quality music production. I’ll make sure to incorporate this into my future projects. :smile:

1 Like

The real secret:
Monday - Rest
Tuesday - Rest
Wednesday - Rest
Thursday - Rest
Friday - Think of a really cool idea in the Toilet, then forget to make it. Then Rest.
Saturday - Make 10% of the initial idea
Sunday - Rest

12 Likes

If you make music as a hobby this is completely fine.

But if you want to seriously improve and start a brand, work ethic is a must.

I practice a 3-day rule when working with other producers or clients. Respond within 24 hours, deliver within 3 days. Because people usually lose interest by then.

3 Likes

oddly specific on friday.