JPF Home Page

Dying art of the song intro

Posted By: John Voorpostel

Dying art of the song intro - 10/04/17 07:17 PM

http://www.bbc.com/news/entertainment-arts-41500692

Interesting article about song intros
Posted By: Gavin Sinclair

Re: Dying art of the song intro - 10/04/17 09:19 PM

Thanks for posting the link, John. It makes interesting reading. I always really enjoyed a good song intro and it wouldn't make me move onto the next song on Spotify. But my brain is probably wired differently from my kids'.

Recognizing the need to avoid boring people with long instrumental intros, I've started putting them at the end. The first time I was struck by the potential of the long outro was the epic fuzzy guitar solo on The Carpenters' "Goodbye to Love." It felt like the whole song had been flipped on its head in a really cool way.
Posted By: Brian Austin Whitney

Re: Dying art of the song intro - 10/05/17 06:33 PM

Impatience is a killer to most art forms. If someone writes a song, they want the singable chorus in 20 seconds. If it's a movie, they want something BIG or shocking or thrilling or terrifying to happen in the opening scene. TV show? Better have a big laugh, controversy or a tearful crisis a few minutes in (or less). People don't consume poems anymore unless they are listening to one with a Rap beat. Same with books, radio shows, news of all types and formats, and anything else competing for people's 3 second attention span.

I haven't read the article yet, but thanks for sharing it John!
Posted By: Martin Lide

Re: Dying art of the song intro - 10/07/17 12:48 AM

Originally Posted by Brian Austin Whitney
Impatience is a killer to most art forms. If someone writes a song, they want the singable chorus in 20 seconds. If it's a movie, they want something BIG or shocking or thrilling or terrifying to happen in the opening scene. TV show? Better have a big laugh, controversy or a tearful crisis a few minutes in (or less). People don't consume poems anymore unless they are listening to one with a Rap beat. Same with books, radio shows, news of all types and formats, and anything else competing for people's 3 second attention span.

I haven't read the article yet, but thanks for sharing it John!


All true. There is so much media competing for attention in this age that you have to do something attention-grabbing quickly to be noticed.

As for intros...my personal theory is that today's avid music fan wants to be part of the art. That is the lyrics and whatever message or sentiment is being delivered for them to memorize and sing along with. Long intros, which I like, just get in those folk's way.

Like anything else that I post....worth what you paid for it.
Posted By: Dave Rice

Re: Dying art of the song intro - 10/07/17 02:05 PM

Hi John and fellow JPF'rs:

Interesting thread. Sorry, insufficient time to watch the video but who said, "Get to the Chorus ASAP?" Brian (as always) pointed out the key ingredient for today's music consumer... IMPATIENCE! Then he further nailed things down with the sad fact we all suffer from INFORMATION OVERLOAD. We live in "The McDonald's Culture" and we want things to be immediate.

Intros are important and being able to grab the listener's ear within the first few seconds of a song just might keep them from moving on to something else. Then there is the argument about video as being part of the entire package. I don't listen to music that way. I want to listen to the melody and words and find the visual aspect to be a distraction. As Martin says, "My Opinion is worth what you paid for it!" (A wise man, indeed!) ----Dave
Posted By: Vicarn

Re: Dying art of the song intro - 10/07/17 02:13 PM

Long intros seem to be accepted more on a live performance where the audience have purposefully come to see the performer.
They are there for the whole trip.

Short intros are for busy shoppers who have other things to do.

Vic
Posted By: Barry David Butler

Re: Dying art of the song intro - 10/07/17 02:29 PM

The Attention span of the average dult is about five seconds. I may even be a good idea to start your song with the catchy chorus....
Posted By: maccharles

Re: Dying art of the song intro - 10/08/17 12:30 AM

[naughty word removed] attention span, do what feels correct.
Posted By: Brian Austin Whitney

Re: Dying art of the song intro - 10/12/17 01:42 AM

Originally Posted by maccharles
[naughty word removed] attention span, do what feels correct.


I agree Mac. Since the odds of making real money in music is so limited, nearly into lottery odds, you should always write to please yourself so at least when you're done you'll have that release and satisfaction. That is the lions share of reward music gives you anyway. Money isn't a reward for creating art, reaching and moving an audience is, whether it is 1 or a billion. I'd much rather write a song that moved the world and I got paid nothing for, than to make millions and no one remembered or cared. But if your music is no more than ordinary droll work product, a widget so to speak, then you best know how to make a widget that will sell. Art vs Commerce, two things with very different dynamics and measurements of success and value.
Posted By: Colin Ward

Re: Dying art of the song intro - 10/13/17 11:26 AM

I am sure what they are saying is true........but I like songs that have a signature, immediately recognizable instrumental hook. Many great songs from the classic rock days are instantly recognizable from the first chord or couple of notes. Take Clapton's Layla for instance. Or the first chord of A Hard Day's Night. You don't get that on a recording of someone rapping over a beat.
Posted By: John Voorpostel

Re: Dying art of the song intro - 10/13/17 02:56 PM

I agree. Sometimes it seems that artists are primarily remembered for their intros...Think Baker Street and Whiter Shade of Pale.
Posted By: RonnieDean

Re: Dying art of the song intro - 11/28/17 09:30 PM

Intros are just so so important. I can't stress that enough.
Followed by the rest of the song which better be spot on right?

Yeah. :-)
Posted By: Michael LeBlanc

Re: Dying art of the song intro - 11/29/17 06:53 PM

i just love a cool riff at the beginning but i have patience when it comes to music.
Posted By: Fdemetrio

Re: Dying art of the song intro - 12/01/17 05:20 PM

I think todays listeners are not conscious of the fact they are sitting down to listen.

When I was a kid, id tell myself, Ok when i get home from school, "im going to listen to Quadrophenia from beggining to end" and Id expect a begining a middle and an end, and lots of good stuff in the middle. Kids today are perfectly fine hearing a song in the middle of it

I said it before and Ill say it again, music is not as important as it once was to your average joe. Musicians will always love it but Ill ask my nephew, so whats your favorite group?
"ahhh...uhmm, I mean, I dont know really, i just listen to whatever comes on" He likes music but dont have time for it, I tried to teach him guitar, he got one a few christmas ago, I think we had three lessons before it ended up under his bed. He does like banging on electronic drums though, but mainly hes interested in his Iphone and computer games
Posted By: Jody Whitesides

Re: Dying art of the song intro - 12/02/17 02:13 AM

Oddly enough, I once had a powerful A&R guy at a major label tell me, in front of a room full of other songwriters, to double the length of my pre-chorus. He even prefaced it by saying "I've never said this before., but whoever wrote this: You could double the length of your pre-chorus." As he scratched his head. Mind you, this lead me to a signing offer with a major label.

The next day with a different industry pro on a different song, she spoke up and said "I really want to hear what this intro would sound like if it were twice as long." Mind you, she wasn't overly sure, but really felt it started the song strongly. I ended up responding that if the object is to get people to listen over and over, does it make you want to start the song over and listen again? She said yes. Then retracted her request.

Names withheld to protect the innocent.

Reality is, it comes down to the power of the song and the quality of the recording. In some cases, every part of a song could have a strong hook. That's how Gaga did it.
Posted By: Brian Austin Whitney

Re: Dying art of the song intro - 12/04/17 05:01 PM

Originally Posted by Jody Whitesides
Reality is, it comes down to the power of the song and the quality of the recording. In some cases, every part of a song could have a strong hook. That's how Gaga did it.


This is an important concept few people talk about... a great song can make every part as catchy and desirable as the chorus... don't always save those elements just for the chorus.
Posted By: TC Perkins

Re: Dying art of the song intro - 12/06/17 07:32 AM

To me there are two approaches to songwriting and recording: to make art or to make money. These two are not mutually exclusive, but more and more it is about making money not art.

In my case, I just do my art. I am not gigging anymore, but even if I was I would not take out a great intro and go to the chorus in 10 seconds or less just because I thought it might get me signed. If the song calls for it, sure, then do it. My motto is just write what you hear, and don't worry about it. If you start sucuumbing to outside pressures in the search for money, or the ever illusive fame thing, you are just setting yourself up for disappointment. And in this modern age, good luck getting a song published by a known artist unless you actually sit down, co-write it with them, and give away a big chunk of the writer royalties. Mechanical royalties have gaping loopholes so people want that writing/publishing royalty.

As someone stated before, some of the best songs I love so much have great intros (Hotel California for instance). For every formulaic pop or country song that eek into the charts for a day, I can find old and new songs alike that are actually interesting, and some of these had record sales in the millions. Almost every one has a signature intro.

My 0.02
TC
Posted By: Pat Hardy

Re: Dying art of the song intro - 12/28/17 09:55 PM


The digital era and the instant gratification phenomenon is the culprit. I'd be happen to go back in time to the 60s, if I could. I can live without all these conveniences. It also affected photography ( I was a wedding photographer for 15 years ).
Originally Posted by Jody Whitesides
Oddly enough, I once had a powerful A&R guy at a major label tell me, in front of a room full of other songwriters, to double the length of my pre-chorus. He even prefaced it by saying "I've never said this before., but whoever wrote this: You could double the length of your pre-chorus." As he scratched his head. Mind you, this lead me to a signing offer with a major label.

The next day with a different industry pro on a different song, she spoke up and said "I really want to hear what this intro would sound like if it were twice as long." Mind you, she wasn't overly sure, but really felt it started the song strongly. I ended up responding that if the object is to get people to listen over and over, does it make you want to start the song over and listen again? She said yes. Then retracted her request.

Names withheld to protect the innocent.

Reality is, it comes down to the power of the song and the quality of the recording. In some cases, every part of a song could have a strong hook. That's how Gaga did it.


I really don't believe one should write a song with a preconcieved design, the song should dictate what it needs, not some systematical approad before a note is even conceived.

I don't buy this idea of a "hook" being a particular section of the song. the entire song is the hook, for it if isn't, it's not as good as it could be.
© 2018 Just Plain Folks Music Organization Message Boards