Thursday, January 17, 2013

Alabama Shakes "Hang Loose"

Let me preface this by saying that I am not a musician.  I have no compositional skills to speak of.  So my comments here come only as a programmer . . .

So you want to craft a song that will get played on the radio.  Here is one small tip, from a guy who's hit the play button on hundreds of thousands of songs in his career.

Remember that your song will most often be heard, not between other cuts on your album, but between two songs by two artists who are completely unconnected to you or your work.

Think about how your song will sound, coming out of another song.

I know, I know, that's tough, since it could pretty much follow an infinite amount of songs.  You can't really prepare for all eventualities.

But I was playing this Alabama Shakes on yesterday, and when it fired up, it occurred to me that it would probably segue nicely out of virtually any kind of song.

Play the intro:

Hear it on Youtube.

That sound---I don't know what to call it---maybe the sound of tape getting up to speed?---works as a genius segue.

Segues are a funny thing, because you a) want the transition from one song to the next to dovetail seamlessly, but b) want to clearly and completely change direction.

So you could have a song that slowly fades out, like Paul Simon's "Train In The Distance," and the whirring up of "Hang Loose" would fade in nicely over Simon's fade out.  By the time the guitar hits on "Hang Loose," the flow of the station would be off in a different direction, without jarring the ear.

Compare that to the opening of "Why I Am" from the Dave Matthews Band:

Hear it on Youtube.

Listened to on its own, as a stand-alone single, the song commands the space and your attention.  But try to play this out of a fading out "Train In The Distance" or a song that comes in for a gentle, but clear, landing like Alison Krauss' "Paper Airplane" and its like when the smoke detector goes off for no reason.

So to review:  I don't play music, and couldn't exactly tell you how to actually do this, but if you are working on your new hit single, craft your intro and outro keeping in mind that playing well with others is what makes you stand out as an individual.

Hear "Train In The Distance" on Youtube.

Hear "Paper Airplane" on Youtube.

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