Songs have told stories from the beginning of time; whole cultures passed down their traditions via melodies taught to generation after generation. But, sometimes, it pays to be a bit more straightforward when you’re a modern-day songwriter and trying to help people understand who you are and where you come from.
Keep writing those introspective songs, but also try incorporating these six ways of using storytelling outside of your lyrics to dig a little deeper.
One of the most essential mixing tips when working with low frequencies is to exercise the “less is more” approach. These days, low frequencies are more pronounced than ever in popular music, with hip-hop and EDM-inflected pop dominating the charts. But in order for the low frequencies you want to shine, you need to tame the ones you don’t want. The human ear can only hear so many frequencies, but luckily, digital audio workstations give us helpful tools like EQ spectrums so we can see where our audio is landing on the frequency scale.
A beefy 808 should be most pronounced below 200Hz — whereas a hi-hat really has no good reason to have frequencies in that below 200Hz area. No one is listening to a hi-hat for the low-end, just like no one is listening to an 808 for frequencies above 10,000Hz. When the two start to get in each other’s lanes, the mix can start to mud and feel cluttered. But it doesn’t have to be that way. A smart producer and/or mixer will know to tame unwanted low frequencies in instruments that don’t call for a pronounced low end, such as most hi-hats. So, let’s get into the weeds about when and why you should tame those unwanted low frequencies.
If you’re young and single, touring with a band can be one of the greatest experiences of your life. In addition to getting to play music all across the country and possibly the world, touring can be an experience filled with late night partying and endless possibilities for meeting new people. But if you’re a bit older and are married or in a committed relationship, weeks or months at a time spent away from home trying to promote new music on tour can be massively challenging for even the strongest couples.
If you’re in a serious relationship and plan on touring for long stretches at a time, you’ll have to go through a difficult balancing act between the needs of your music career and your obligations at home. Couples can still manage to thrive if one of its members tours regularly, but not without a lot of hard work and planning. Here’s a few tips to help.
If you’re a serious songwriter, you’re probably used to wrestling with the beasts of routine and boredom every so often. Even songwriters brimming with talent and promise have fruitless writing sessions sometimes. It’s all part of the process. But when a songwriter experiences weeks, months or even years of uninspired frustration with their work, it’s an entirely different story. If this sounds like you, I’ve got some practical guidance that can help break you out of your songwriting rut.
While seeing Phish perform a sold out show in Charlottesville, Virginia, a naked man ran onstage and interrupted the performance until security could catch him. It was very strange and unsettling, and for a moment, frightening. But what happened later in the show was absolutely incredible. During the band’s encore, they performed a fan-favorite song, “Run Like An Antelope.” The lyrics are simple: “You’ve gotta run like an antelope, out of control.” The crowd always sings along loudly and gleefully. But on this particular night, Phish took advantage of that weird scare earlier in their set and changed the lyrics to, “You’ve gotta run like a naked guy, out of control.” Now, this might sound weird on the surface, but for everyone in the audience, it was magic! Everyone sang along, screaming at the top of their lungs, laughing. The show became known as “the naked guy” show. It created a special moment for the concert goers.
So, what’s the story here? During live performances, there are going to be mistakes, slip-ups, gear malfunctions, and everything your nightmares can possibly imagine. Sometimes these mistakes are as simple as landing on the wrong note for half a second; other times, it means taking a 15-minute break out of your set to address a complex gear issue. When these panic moments appear, have a plan ready to control and own the issue, and even turn it into a special moment with the audience like Phish did that night in Charlottesville.
This is the second half of a special Reverb Nation Guide To Music Theory. In Part 1, I taught you how to build and understand intervals and basic chords. If you haven’t gone through Part 1 one of this guide, stop reading this and check that out first. To understand everything in this article, you’ll need to have a basic knowledge of everything I talked about in that first guide.
In this article, I’ll introduce you to scales, Roman numeral analysis, and the circle of 5ths. Having a solid grasp on music theory’s basic concepts can be a huge help to you no matter what your unique experience and background in music is, and by the end of this guide you should have more than enough information to be able to wrap your head around the ideas that govern music. Let’s jump back in.
You know when you’re mindlessly browsing your inbox and you come across something that really jumps out at you? For me, one of those things is the newsletter from Music Launch Hub and Music Launch Summit founder Steve Palfreyman, a musicprenuer (read: musician/entrepreneur) who’s always doling out real life scenarios and advice from the perspective of both a musician and an industry entrepreneur. He offers lots of free tools, workshops, and support and here’s the key — doesn’t try to sell me anything. Because of all of this, I tend to feel a bond with his message and his mission, and naturally gravitate towards keeping up with him via his Facebook group and emails. This is an example of email marketing done right.
Then there’s those other mailing lists that I initially subscribed to because they promised me free goods or a discount, or because I was genuinely interested in what they had to say, but I now find myself rapidly deleting and unsubscribing from because they’re either a) boring b) they’re trying to sell me something or c) both. This is an example of poor email marketing.
Here’s the thing though. As an emerging musician, I’m willing to bet that you already know having a mailing list is key when it comes to connecting with fans and fostering that sense of community. With social media algorithms being what they are, your mailing list is the one place that you can be sure your fans are seeing your updates every time. The tough part is continually putting out content that makes your fans want to stay around. So how do you do that?
Arguably the most prolific pop songwriting duo of the 20th century, John Lennon and Paul McCartney crafted some of the best known and most beloved tracks of all time as the major powerhouses behind the Beatles. Although each would go onto have successful solo careers — McCartney with Wings in the ‘70s and largely by himself thereafter and Lennon, along with wife Yoko Ono, helming politically charged outfits during his tragically short post-Beatles career — many insist they were never as good apart as they were together.
When boiled down to the basic status of “co-writers,” however, Lennon and McCartney aren’t so different from you and your writing partners. They dealt with many similar issues that, hopefully, won’t crop up too often in your own career, including copyright disputes, claims over who wrote what, and the public deifying one half over the other. It’s indisputable, however, that their combined power created a musical benchmark few other have risen to.
Although there are many, many lessons to learn from Lennon and McCartney’s songwriting partnership, here are three key takeaways that will get you and your present and future co-writers on the right track to crafting musical masterpieces.