Wednesday, January 17, 2007

Got to hear it twice

At songwriter's group I'm constantly amazed at those who can hear a song once and understand what the artist is trying to say. For me, I need to hear the song multiple times and to study the lyrics sheet. The first time through, I usually feel the music and may get a general sense of what's going on, but rarely do I understand it. I'm like my daughter at an early age watching a movie for the 100th time or reading a book over an over, each time gaining more understanding.

In thinking about this I've had a few thoughts:
- I get the most first time through from songs that are simple both musically and lyrically.
- Its easier to understand a solo acoustic version, than with the full band. We had one person sing acapella and that was great!
- There's a balance between making people understand the song the first time and wanting to go back and hear it over an over. For example, a lot of jokes songs are great the first time. However, after about the 10th time, its time to move on.
- What makes you want to go back and study a song? I'm often drawn in by the melody and groove. Many times I love songs that I have no idea what they are about. It's like those two guys on the TV commercial singing "stuff the catbox." In some of songs, there's a few lines that catch my imagination and I want to learn more.
- Are we trying to entertain or inform? Set the mood or make a statement? My favorite example of a CD that sets the mood is by a friend KG Morris. While Ken is an excellent lyricist and interesting guitarist (alternative tunings and partial capos) I listen to his CD for the mood, which I describe as contentment. After listening to his CD, I feel like sitting back with a cup of coffee, put my feet up and know that everything is going to be OK.
- Is there a strong line that detracts from the song? A good example is war references. Because of the current sensitivity, one line can immediately start me thinking the song is about the war.

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At 4:12 PM, Anonymous LyricHut said...

I think the people who can grasp and understand a song on the first listen are the exception and not the rule. Most of us need a good number of listens for the brain to process all the info it is being bombarded with.

You posed the question:"Are we trying to entertain or inform?"

A good song should do both. The words and music combine to entertain us and inform us at the same time.

I think the true mark of a good song is one that doesn't bore the listener after hearing it 10 times but can still draw you in after the 100th.


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