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Cool Trick To Recognise Great Music

I have always prided myself on being able to recognise great music. I worked as A&R for a time, have composed a top 10 and am a DJ at heart. But, my tastes are mine, and not yours, so what do I know right!
As a songwriter I am always trying to “map” what makes a great song. A great song must be one that people want to listen to, it’s that simple. 
I do love intelligent chord progressions and well thought out vocal melodies, but I am not overly precious, to me a Hip Hop song based on a loop can be a great song. Like I said, my definition of a great song is one that I (and others) want to listen to over and over and enjoy.
Now this is not scientific but it works really well for me. Load your iPhone (or whatever) with 10 songs that you love. Make sure you have a range of styles and make then songs that you are into and enjoy. The idea is that on first listen through you like all tracks equally. 
Now, here’s the cool bit ..
Keep that play list on loop for a week or two. Listen regularly to them and slowly but surely you will start to skip songs that you grow to dislike – don’t worry, a few weeks away from these songs will restore your passion for them!
Finally, after a week or two you will come to realise that the couple of songs you have not grown bored with have something in common. I can’t say what that is but whatever it is, is the key! 
You will have sieved through 10 songs and extracted the elusive qualities that great (enduring) music has. Replicating these qualities in your music will help you write songs that you (and others) will always love. Equally important is recognising what common features the other songs had, the ones that you skipped. Make sure you don’t put those qualities in your music!
I found (to my surprise) that the songs I never got bored of were the ones that have more natural dynamics. The processes (squashed) songs became more tiresome than the others. This may not have anything to do with the song writing quality, almost certainly a mix issue, but it made me think about how I might produce music in our audio studio in the future.

Reader Comments (2)

Funny how some songs grow on you, and others, it's an instantaneous thing. For instance, I didn't care for Lana Del Rey at first. But after hearing her on satellite radio during my workouts day after day, she grew on me. Guess that fits the radio promotion paradigm perfectly, doesn't it? Play it enough and you'll grow to like :) We all know that this is not always the case!

But it's all "subjective" depending on what your "objective" is. Most producers particularly in the pop/dance genre flip songs - take elements of songs out there, and integrate them into their own. Chord progressions crazy simple - 6-4-1-5 or the like. Take Carly Rae Jepsen's "Call Me Maybe," 4,1-5, 6-4 progression. That genre is all based around the hook. Simple stuff, but it's catchy. It really comes down to the production - beats, sounds, arrangements and hook. Rock tends to be all minor these days. But again, A&R - very subjective process, depending on what you're looking for, as you know!

Personally, I'm like you. I'm into dynamics, which is often "squashed" as you mention because of mastering techniques....compression hell!

November 16 | Unregistered CommenterHugh Hession

Thank you for the tip! It's much appreciated. I find most of my favorite songs often have more natural sounds as well , I like a lot of acoustic sounds, usually mixed with a demanding voice over it.

November 18 | Registered CommenterDylan DuBois

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