I was scrolling thru'You-Tube the other night listening to some of the old classics(it really is a wonderful music site).It is really amazing when you look at the time length of most of these great old songs,they were well under 3mins.The Beatles in particular,total masters at writing,not only in time length,but getting to the hook quickly,if not starting with the hook..These old songs are a master class in how to write songs....Terry.
Interesting topic....length of song all depends on genre, era and message.... In the seventies songs got much longer with the rock groups and virtuoso musicians... some intros ALONE lasted a few mintes LOL. Some songs even lasted a whole 12" LP or more. In the eighties songs got shorter again but still 4 - 5 mins was average. 90s was a mixture of shorter songs with some still at 4-5 mins average....Now we are going back to shorter songs with a few exceptions. All that said pop songs have always been generally around three min mark or less.
But hey a song can be as long as you want it to be....as long as it is not boring.....hell I know guitarits that do solos that are longer than the average song length.
Terry, I hear you. I started a similar thread awhile ago and came to the same conclusion: learn to write a few under three minutes and learn the true meaning of economy. I too was amazed that even most of the later Beatles stuff was UNDER three minutes.
Like Big Jim, I enjoy songs of any length...but I know I'd rather hear a five minute song by someone who already knows how to write a 2 1/2 minute song than by someone who just can't trim the fat.
Yea its the econonmy of words that do the trick..especially with the Beatles...as little words as possible,but with maximum impact, an art in itself...it is only when you haven't heard these old classics for a while,they seemed to have been longer in your musical memory,but when you look at the actual time length on You-Tube,it really is quite surprising how short they actually are...of course some great songs do deserve the 6-7 mins.."Hotel California" "Bohemian Rhapsody" etc..but they are more of the "storytelling" as opposed to pure pop....Terry..
A song must 'get-the-job-done.' That's its function.
Songs that get it done in 3 minutes or less, even in 3:30, have to do a lot right.
Unless an introductory passage is really doing something interesting, it may not function to hook and sustain listener interest. That's why 10 to 14 seconds is generally adequate to get the job done. If your intro is terribly interesting, by all means, go as long as you want. Think about who finds it terribly interesting though. If it's you, and you're the only one you care about hooking and sustaining interest in, rock on as long as you want. If you want others to be hooked, think about it and see if you can determine how long is good to serve that function for them.
But, there's an old saying; "Don't bore us; get to the chorus."
The intro's function is just that, to introduce the first musical movement. In an instrumental piece, you should be able to discern the beginning, perhaps a middle, and an end of that musical movement. In a lyric, that musical movement embodies Verse 1.
Verse one should get the job done, serving the function of doing the exposition of the storyline. It may get you to the chorus, possibly all the way to THE hook, the title line.
It may be something to do with the human mind, attention span, but accomplishing the function of getting to that chorus and THE hook within about 1 minute seems to satisfy my desire to keep listening.
In a song with a refrain-type chorus, where the chorus is a line that ends each verse, that structure enables the song to repeat that musical movement, with words further advancing the storyline, and again ending in THE hook-refrain.
Then I generally need something to break the repeat pattern, something that serves the function of refreshing my ear, something new, perhaps an instrumental interlude, or a Bridge. That variation from the melody or music of the verses enables a repeat of the verse melody for a 3rd verse, with words completing the story.
Some say every word must 'earn' its place. No word should just be there without a function. Each line should lead logically to the next, and no line should be there if it doesn't serve a function. No line should repeat a function that has already been accomplished.
How long is reasonable? You've got to decide. Study those short songs and see if you can analyze the functions and how they accomplish their task, and get the job done. I
There will always be another song to be written. Someone will write it. Why not you? www.garyeandrews.com