Friday, 3 February 2017

Under The Influence: Bob Dylan (again!)



We were driving through Colorado [and] we had the radio on and eight of the Top Ten songs were Beatles songs. In Colorado! 'I Want To Hold Your Hand,’ all those early ones.

They were doing things nobody was doing. Their chords were outrageous, and their harmonies made it all valid… But I kept it to myself that I really dug them. Everybody else thought they were for the teenyboppers, that they were gonna pass right away. But it was obvious to me that they had staying power. I knew they were pointing the direction where music had to go… in my head, The Beatles were it. In Colorado, I started thinking about it but it was so far out I couldn’t deal with it - eight in the Top Ten.

It seemed to me a definite line was being drawn. This was something that never happened before.

Bob Dylan

Quoted in In My Life: Encounters With The Beatles ed. by Robert Cording, Shelli Jankowski-Smith and E.J. Miller Laino (p 12)


More from Bob on the Beatles here and here

More from the Beatles on Bob here and here


Join the mailing list to get the free, exclusive, Beatles Songwriting Academy podcast!

Friday, 27 January 2017

The Silkie Sounds Of Lennon And McCartney

On 9th August 1965, 3 days after releasing You've Got Hide Your Love Away, The Beatles were back in the studio (IBC in London) re-recording it.

The Silkie were a folk group in the 'Peter, Paul And Mary' style, formed at Hull University with a wealth of Beatles connections. They were signed by Brian Epstein after a gig at the Cavern Club and managed by Alastair Taylor. This naturally paved the way for covering The Beatles but their session had the added bonus of being produced by John and featuring Paul on guitar and George on Tambourine. The record went to no.10 in the States.

Friday, 23 December 2016

BSA PODCAST EPISODE 6: Shownotes




OUT NOW: Episode 6 of the Beatles Songwriting Academy Podcast! The podcast is free to everyone who subscribes to the BSA mailing list and each episode will only be available for ONE MONTH. Sign up now to get the current episodeWhaddaya waiting for!


0:00 - Intro - 1969 Christmas Wishes From Paul

Christmas Links from Beatles 1969 Christmas Fan Club Record


2:02 - Who Wants To Be Carol? (1966 Lennon And McCartney Interview)

Interview background on Beatles Bible

A Hard Day's Night - Peggy Lee
All My Loving - Matt Monro
And I Love Him - Lena Horne
Wait - Frankie Laine


13:10 - Wishy Woo Merry Christmas (Yule Be Improvising)

From Beatles 1969 Christmas Fan Club Record


14:15 - Eleanor Rigby's Ghost (Aaron Krerowicz takes a Beatles Minute)

Beatles Minutes on Aaron Krerowicz
More on Madrigalism


17:14 - Five Ideas For More Interesting Intros (From Motown to school assemblies, Bon Jovi to the Beatles)

Put Your Song On A Diet! - Ticket 2
Building Up On The 5th - Ticket 65
Jazz Style Intro Verses - Ticket 53
AABA Structures - Ticket 26
Mutate Your Intros - Ticket 4
Combining Song Ideas: Two Become One - Ticket 55
Post by Shane Adams that includes the concept of a Swing Line
Wikipedia posts on Anacrusis, A CappellaRecitative and Musical Development
More on the '7 seconds to skip' concept can be found in Jay Franks' book Futurehit.DNA download the first chapter here


53:17 – Tomorrow Never Jingles (Christmas Mash-Up)

Jingle Bells by California Beatles tribute band The Fab Four from their album Hark!


54:56 – Bob And The Band In The Basement With Hank And Lennon Too! (Troubadour Timing or The Lennon Edit)

Bob Dylan, The Band And The Basement Tapes documentary on IMDB and Youtube
The Lennon Edit - Ticket 37
The Lennon Extension - Ticket 52


58:40 – That Dirty No Good Robbin'... (Who Stole Stewball?)

More on Stewball and Merry Xmas (War Is Over)
More on the Beatles uncredited co-writers


1:01:27 – Trouble With These Glasses (George And Ringo On Songwriting)

Interviews with George (1965) and Ringo (1964) from On Air – Live at the BBC Volume 2


1:04:53 – Getting Under My Fingernails (Deconstructing My Own Song For Beatles Clues)

Descending Line Starting From The b7th - Ticket 31
Recycle Your 'O's Ticket 4
The Lennon Edit - Ticket 37
More on 10 Ways The Beatles Have Radically Changed My Songwriting
Buy Fingernails on BandcampiTunesAmazon UKAmazon USSpotifyCD BabySoundcloud and Google Play.


1:18:12 - Outro (250 Good People)

Buy my music
Follow me on Spotify

Closing theme - 'Piggies' performed by The Black Heartthrobs available here
Idents by Poddingham Paul courtesy of LeftLion



Sign Up To Receive Future Episodes

Submit A Question


About Beatles Songwriting Academy

Monday, 14 November 2016

Ticket To Write Playlist: #3 Create Instrumental Hooks


For a full discussion of this songwriting tip go here

1954 Hoochie Coochie Man - Muddy Waters (0:00)
1955 Mannish Boy - Muddy Waters (0:18**)
1959 Money (That’s What I Want) - Barrett Strong (0:00)

1963 Love Me Do - The Beatles (0:00)
1963 Please Please Me – The Beatles (0:12 and 0:19)
1963 Twist And Shout - The Beatles (0:00)
1963 Money (That’s What I Want) - The Beatles (0:00)
1964 A Hard Day’s Night - The Beatles (1:19)
1964 And I Love Her - The Beatles (0:00)
1964 I Feel Fine - The Beatles (0:06)
1964 Words Of Love - The Beatles (0:00)
1964 O, Pretty Woman - Roy Orbison (0:02)
1964 My Girl – The Temptations (0:05)
1965 Ticket To Ride - The Beatles (0:00)
1965 Help! - The Beatles (0:01)
1965 Day Tripper - The Beatles (0:00)
1965 In My Life - The Beatles (0:00 and 1:28)
1965 Michelle - The Beatles (1:25)
1965 (I Can't Get No) Satisfaction - The Rolling Stones (0:00)
1966 Got To Get You Into My Life - The Beatles (0:11 and 1:05)
1966 Paperback Writer - The Beatles (0:06)
1966 And Your Bird Can Sing - The Beatles (0:51)
1966 Eleanor Rigby - The Beatles (0:04, 0:31, 1:08 and 1:21)
1966 For No One - The Beatles (0:49)
1966 I'm A Believer - The Monkees (0:00, 0:28, 0:46 and 1:37)
1966 Good Vibrations - The Beach Boys (0:25)
1966 Hold On, I'm Comin' - Sam And Dave (0:00)
1966 Get Ready - The Temptations (0:00)
1966 Gimme Some Lovin' - The Spencer Davis Group (0:00 and 0:14***)
1967 Strawberry Fields Forever - The Beatles (0:00 and 1:18)
1967 Penny Lane - The Beatles (1:09)
1967 Lady Madonna - The Beatles (0:00)
1967 Hey Bulldog - The Beatles (0:00)
1967 Sunshine Of Your Love - Cream (0:00)
1967 Purple Haze - Jimi Hendrix (0:05)
1968 Helter Skelter - The Beatles (0:42 and 0:45)
1968 While My Guitar Gently Weeps - The Beatles (0:00)
1968 Hey Jude - The Beatles (0:51)
1968 Yer Blues - The Beatles (0:24)
1968 Birthday - The Beatles (0:02)
1968 Piggies - The Beatles (0:00 and 1:06)
1968 Martha My Dear - The Beatles (0:30, 0:57 and 1:16)
1968 Long, Long, Long - The Beatles (0:16)
1968 Voodoo Chile (Slight Return) - Jimi Hendrix (0:10)
1969 Don’t Let Me Down - The Beatles (0:00)
1969 Get Back - The Beatles (0:43*)
1969 Two Of Us - The Beatles (0:09*)
1969 Let It Be - The Beatles (1:41*)
1969 Something - The Beatles (0:01)
1969 Octopus’s Garden - The Beatles (0:00)
1969 Here Comes The Sun - The Beatles (0:23)
1969 Come Together - The Beatles (0:00)
1969 I Want You Back – The Jackson 5 (0:01)
1969 Communication Breakdown - Led Zeppelin (0:00)
1969 Heartbreaker - Led Zeppelin (0:00)
1969 Whole Lotta Love - Led Zeppelin (0:00)

1970 Layla - Derek And The Dominos (0:00)
1970 Immigrant Song - Led Zeppelin (0:01)
1970 Black Sabbath - Black Sabbath (0:37)
1970 War Pigs - Black Sabbath (0:51)
1970 Paranoid - Black Sabbath (0:00)
1970 All Right Now - Free (0:00)
1970 Iron Man - Black Sabbath (0:27 and 1:13)
1971 Sweet Leaf - Black Sabbath (0:03)
1971 Children Of The Grave - Black Sabbath (0:13 and 2:08)
1971 Black Dog - Led Zeppelin (0:12)
1972 Superstition - Stevie Wonder (0:00 and 0:09)
1972 Smoke On The Water – Deep Purple (0:00)
1972 Supernaut - Black Sabbath (0:03)
1973 Sabbath Bloody Sabbath - Black Sabbath (0:00)
1973 A National Acrobat - Black Sabbath (0:00)
1973 Papa Was A Rollin' Stone – The Temptations (0:00)
1973 The Ocean - Led Zeppelin (0:08)
1973 Doo Doo Doo Doo Doo (Heartbreaker) - The Rolling Stones (1:10)
1975 Walk This Way - Aerosmith (0:00 and 0:03)
1975 Jive Talkin' - Bee Gees (1:17)
1975 It's A Long Way To The Top (If You Wanna Rock 'N' Roll) – AC/DC (0:00)
1975 Kashmir - Led Zeppelin (0:00)
1975 Symptom Of The Universe - Black Sabbath (0:00)
1976 Dirty Deeds Done Dirt Cheap – AC/DC (0:00)
1976 Nobody’s Fault But Mine - Led Zeppelin (0:00)
1976 Don't Fear the Reaper - Blue Öyster Cult (0:00)
1976 Wonderful Tonight - Eric Clapton (0:01)
1976 Sir Duke – Stevie Wonder (0:00 and 1:04)
1976 The Ripper - Judas Priest (0:45 and 1:32)
1977 We Will Rock You - Queen (0:00)
1977 Whole Lotta Rosie – AC/DC (0:00)
1977 Hell Ain't A Bad Place To Be – AC/DC (0:34)
1978 Baker Street - Gerry Rafferty (0:23)
1978 Riff Raff – AC/DC (0:45)
1978 Ain’t Talkin’ ’Bout Love - Van Halen (0:00)
1979 Highway To Hell – AC/DC (0:00)
1979 Girls Got Rhythm – AC/DC (0:00)
1979 Beating Around The Bush – AC/DC (0:07)
1979 Parisienne Walkways - Gary Moore (0:03)
1979 My Sharona - The Knack (0:00 and 0:07)
1979 Good Times - Chic (0:01)

1980 Another One Bites The Dust - Queen (0:00)
1980 Hells Bells – AC/DC (0:19 and 1:18)
1980 You Shook Me All Night Long – AC/DC (0:00 and 0:16)
1980 Back In Black – AC/DC (0:00 and 2:49)
1980 Crazy Train - Ozzy Osbourne 0:17)
1980 Mr Crowley - Ozzy Osbourne (3:19)
1980 Heaven And Hell - Black Sabbath (0:00)
1980 Breaking The Law - Judas Priest (0:00)
1980 The Rage - Judas Priest (0:00)
1981 The Sign Of The Southern Cross - Black Sabbath (1:17)
1981 For Those About To Rock (We Salute You) - AC/DC (0:00 and 0:16)
1981 Under Pressure - Queen and David Bowie (0:00)
1981 Tainted Love - Soft Cell (0:03)
1981 In The Air Tonight - Phil Collins (3:40)
1981 Under Pressure - Queen And David Bowie (0:00)
1982 My Face Is On Fire - Felt (0:01)
1982 Run To The Hills - Iron Maiden (0:00 and 0:07)
1982 Hallowed Be Thy Name - Iron Maiden (0:00 and 0:59)
1982 Mickey - Toni Basil (0:00)
1983 The Trooper - Iron Maiden (0:00 and 0:12)
1983 Waiting For Darkness - Ozzy Osbourne (0:26)
1983 Blister In The Sun - Violent Femmes (0:00)
1983 Little Red Corvette - Prince (0:50)
1983 Holy Diver - Dio (1:13)
1983 Blue Monday - New Order (0:00 and 1:18 ****)
1984 I Want A New Drug - Huey Lewis And The News (0:01)
1984 Ghostbusters – Ray Parker Jr. (0:13, 0:21, 0:46 and 2:01)
1986 You Can Call Me Al - Paul Simon (0:00)
1986 The Final Countdown - Europe (0:13)

1991 Enter Sandman - Metallica (0:00)
1991 Smells Like Teen Spirit - Nirvana (0:00)
1991 Come As You Are – Nirvana (0:00)
1993 Loser - Beck (0:00)
1994 Whatever - Oasis (0:11)
1997 Bitter Sweet Symphony - The Verve (0:17)

2000 Go - The Apples In Stereo (0:01 and 0:10)
2000 The Real Slim Shady - Eminem (0:00)
2001 Plug In Baby - Muse (0:05)
2002 Lose Yourself - Eminem (0:31)
2002 Cleanin' Out My Closet - Eminem (0:06)
2002 Business - Eminem (0:08 and 0:18)
2003 Seven Nation Army - The White Stripes (0:00)

2014 Fancy - Iggy Azalea (0:00)
2016 Fingernails - Matt Blick (0:00)

Notes

*Original Let It Be album version
** Original single (with 2:58 run time and female BVs)
***US single (with piano and cowbell)
****2011 Total Version


  • In order to better understand the influence of ideas on and by the Beatles songs are laid out in chronological order.
  • Songs written or performed by the Beatles are in bold.
  • Songs covered by the Beatles, or to known to have had an influence on them, are in italics.
  • Songs written by Matt Blick can be found at www.mattblick.com/songs

Did I miss an example? Leave a comment below!

Thanks to Pete Murphy, Nancy Rost, Curtis Pea, Gary Horn, Ben Spencer, Bert Zoetemeyer, Luke Seagrave, Martin Quibell, Scott Lake, Patrick Bonier, Ben Bradley, Stephen Wort, Michael Rose, Jeff Charreaux, Rod Johnson and Jonathan Nelson for suggestions.

Further Reading

Ticket 2: Take out every unnecessary section, repeat or other element
Ticket 4: Create intros, outros and solos by mutating the main sections of the song
Ticket 9: Develop melodic or chordal fragments to create longer ideas or new sections
The Be-Atletudes
About Beatles Songwriting Academy

See the full list of songwriting tips here - Tickets To Write

Check out music by Matt Blick

Join the mailing list to get the free, exclusive, Beatles Songwriting Academy podcast!

Friday, 21 October 2016

The Night That Changed American Music: The Beatles On Ed Sullivan



We gathered round to hear the sound comin’ on the little screen
The grief had passed, the old men laughed, and all the girls screamed
’Cause four guys from England took us all by the hand
It was time to laugh, time to sing, time to join the band.

I Saw It on T.V. by John Fogerty


CBS called it 'the Night That Changed America' as 73 million Americans tuned in to watch the Beatles perform on The Ed Sullivan Show. Among those impacted were children and young adults who would go on to define music throughout the rest of the 60s, 70s and 80s. From working musicians like David Crosby, gleaning tips on 'how to hold an electric guitar' to five year old Richie Sambora receiving his life's calling.

Session ace Will Lee who wound up working four nights a week in the same studio the Beatles appeared in as part of his 'day job' on Late Night With Letterman thought
maybe music is gonna be my life from now on
For Rick Nielsen (Cheap Trick) and Robert Cray it was the most potent guitar advert possible
[It] was the beginning. That got me to learn how to play the guitar. 
The girls were screaming at The Beatles, as an 11/12 year old kid, by the time I got the guitar, I wanted that, too.
Worship songwriter Mark Altrogge says
It was electrifying - like watching fireworks for the first time - I'd never seen or heard anything like them.
Eagles guitarist Joe Walsh
I took one look and it was, ‘F**k school. I memorized every Beatles song and went to Shea Stadium and screamed right along with all those chicks

What Greg Kihn calls “the single most important moment in Rock history” had a visceral effect
When it ended the sudden void sucked the air out of my parent’s living room
Chrissie Hynde (The Pretenders) says
I remember exactly where I was sitting. It was amazing. It was like the axis shifted ... It was kind of like an alien invasion.
For Joe Perry (Aerosmith) the experience was
... akin to a national holiday … I wasn’t prepared by how powerful and totally mesmerizing they were to watch. It changed me completely. I knew something was different in the world that night. Next day at school, the Beatles were all anybody could talk about.
Nancy Wilson (Heart) 'heard the call' to become musician
The lightning bolt came out of the heavens and struck Ann and me the first time we saw the Beatles on The Ed Sullivan Show. … it was a huge event, like the lunar landing: that was the moment Ann and I heard the call to become rock musicians … we didn’t want to marry them … we wanted to be them.
As did 14 year old Billy Joel
the single biggest moment that I can remember being galvanized into wanting to be a musician for life ... all of a sudden there’s this band, and they played their own instruments and they wrote their own songs, they looked like working class kids and I said, ‘That’s what I want to do. I want to be like those guys.’ That one performance changed my life. Up to that moment I'd never considered playing rock as a career. 
And Richie Sambora (Bon Jovi)
One of my earliest memories was sitting cross-legged on the floor … and watching The Beatles on The Ed Sullivan Show. I was five years old and I remember thinking, 'Wow! That's what I want to do.' I always knew I wanted to be a rock star, and The Beatles set that in motion. 
They were the most incredible thing I ever saw. I couldn't put it into any kind of historical context at the time … but I knew, even at that young age … that I was witnessing something truly life-changing. And not just for me, but for everybody as well.
For Tom Petty it represented escape
The minute I saw The Beatles on The Ed Sullivan Show – and it's true of thousands of guys - there was the way out. There was the way to do it. You get your friends and you're a self-contained unit. And you make the music. … I really saw in The Beatles that here's something I could do.
Bruce Springsteen says
It shifted the lay of the land ... Rock 'n' roll came to my house where there seemed to be no way out … and opened up a whole world of possibilities.
And for 13 year old Steven Van Zandt (The E Street Band) it was a glimmer of hope
February 9th, 1964, it all began for me. Suddenly, maybe there's hope for my life. Because I didn't fit in anywhere. And I was starting to get concerned! I didn't know that I could actually try and make a living out of doing this, make a career out of it.

This was the main event of my life. It was certainly the major event for many others, whether or not they knew it at the time. For me, it was no less dramatic than aliens landing on the planet.

Steven also points to the instant effect it had
On the day before The Beatles played The Ed Sullivan Show, there wasn't a single rock and roll band in America. And February 10th, everyone had one.
Greg Kihn recalls
In a single weekend everything had changed. … Every kid in school went through the same metamorphosis. … Brylcreem lost a whole generation in a single hour. The direction of our lives shifted as radically as the direction of our hair. It was magic.
Tom Petty remembers
Within weeks, you could drive through literally any neighbourhood in Gainesville and you would hear the strains of garage bands playing ... I mean everywhere. And I'd say by a year from that time, Gainesville probably had 50 bands.
Gary Rossington (Lynyrd Skynyrd) simply states
Like everybody else in our generation [we] freaked out and wanted to start a rock ’n’ roll band.
Gene Simmons (Kiss) acknowledges the debt of many
There is no way I’d be doing what I do now if it wasn’t for the Beatles … It blew me away that these four boys [from] the middle of nowhere could make that music.

SOURCES

CBS News here and here
Greg Kihn 
Rock Cellar Magazine
Ultimate Classic Rock
Music Radar
Austin Chronicle 
Beatles Songwriting Academy 

Would you like to receive exclusive bonus Beatles Songwriting Tips? Join the mailing list right here!

Friday, 14 October 2016

Under The Influence: Gary Rossington (Lynyrd Skynyrd)


This incredible music [A Day In The Life] just overwhelmed us. When it came to the middle of the song, where the orchestra rises, it sounded like a plane taking off in the room. It just killed us. And when it ended with that incredible chord, we all sat there stunned.

For me [While My Guitar Gently Weeps] was the song of the century. This may sound naïve now, but the Beatles were like gods to me as a kid. Not literally, of course, but it was like they were more than human in some way. This was the point where they embraced heavy blues-based guitar, which made musicians realise you could write modern songs with cool chords that weren't necessarily blues-based and still stick some heavy guitar in them. There were no credits on this album, so I didn't even know it was Clapton for a few weeks, and Eric literally makes his guitar weep at the end. Every guitar player loves this song – because every guitar player has a tear-stained guitar.

Gary Rossington: 'The Hour Of Music That Rocks My World' Guitar World Magazine



Want to receive exclusive bonus Beatles Songwriting Tips? Join the mailing list right here!

Monday, 10 October 2016

Golden Ticket: Create Instrumental Hooks (Ticket 3)




The rhythm's in the guitars 
- Paul McCartney

Summary

Don't let the vocals be the only source of melody in your song. Share it around the instruments. Don't let every gap between singing be 'dead space'. Fill some with compelling instrumental melodies. Write a part that will make the listener break off from the vocal melody to 'sing' some other part (as Frank Sinatra literally did in his cover of Something (3:58 and 4:06).

Skippable Theory

One of the most common ways to introduce an instrumental hook is to build your song around a riff. (A riff, or ostinato, is a repeated musical figure). In rock and metal the riff is so central that it often displaces the vocal line as a the main element (think of how 'un-melodic' the chorus melodies of Smoke On The Water, (I Can't Get No) Satisfaction or Walk This Way are compared to their riffs.

A second way is to write a fill or lick (which usually occurs once per song, or once per section) in holes left by the vocal melody.

A hook is an intrinsic part of the song and usually the most popular part. Compare the original and unplugged versions of Layla. When Eric Clapton replaces the opening lead guitar melody with a few strummed chords the heart of the song is lost.

Beatles Application

The Beatles generally preferred chord progressions over riffs, but early covers like Twist And Shout (0:00), Money (That’s What I Want) (0:00) and Words Of Love (0:00) had strong, simple riffs that paved the way for classics like I Feel Fine (0:06), Hey Bulldog (0:00) and Paperback Writer (0:06). A riff doesn't automatically have to open the song – think of the choruses of Helter Skelter (0:42 and 0:45) and Get Back (0:43*), and simple riffs derived from underlying chords can be effective, as in the case of Ticket To Ride (0:00) and In My Life (0:00). A riff doesn't have to be played on guitar. The Beatles riffed on harmonica (Love Me Do) (0:00), piano (Lady Madonna) (0:00) and horns (Got To Get You Into My Life) (0:11 and 1:05).

The Beatles created some memorable instrumental fills from fragments of the vocal line (see ticket 4) but others were 'original' – like the breaks that end the choruses of Here Comes The Sun (0:23), and Let It Be (1:41*) and the chord-based fills that punctuate the verses in Please Please Me (0:12 and 0:19) and Yer Blues (0:24).

Counter melodies are another source of hooks, ranging from simple descending notes on piano in Hey Jude (0:51) and guitar in Help! (0:01) to the elegant string lines in Eleanor Rigby (0:04, 0:31, 1:08 and 1:21).

It's no surprise that a supremely melodic band produced so many 'hummable' solos; simple - And I Love Her (0:00), rhythmic - While My Guitar Gently Weeps (0:00), harmonically complex - Michelle (1:25) and technically challenging - And Your Bird Can Sing (0:51).

Lastly they highlighted the hooks with unusual instrumentation and recording techniques; mellotron and swarmandal - Strawberry Fields Forever (0:00 and 1:18), french horn - For No One (0:49), piccolo trumpet - Penny Lane (1:09), harpsichord – Piggies (0:00 and 1:06), sped-up piano - In My Life (1:28) and sped-up piano/guitar - A Hard Day’s Night (1:19).

Featured Song And Recommended Artists

In I'm A Believer by The Monkees there are two distinct hooks; on organ (0:28) and electric guitar (0:46). These are highlighted in three ways; by occurring where there are no vocals, by the instruments being kept low in the mix at all other times and by being put 'front and centre' – introduced together at the opening of the song (0:00). The electric piano solo (1:37) is another memorable hook, it's sound buried in the mix till that point.

All rock bands employ riffs but Led Zeppelin, AC/DC and Black Sabbath are masters of the art. And anything can be a hook, from drum fills (In The Air Tonight (3:40) - Phil Collins) and intros (Run To The Hills (0:00) – Iron Maiden) to bass lines (Another One Bites The Dust (0:00) and Under Pressure (0:00) by Queen), from keyboard lines (The Final Countdown (0:13) - Europe and Tainted Love (0:03) - Soft Cell) to horn parts (Sir Duke (0:00) – Stevie Wonder and Baker Street (0:23) - Gerry Rafferty). Unusual combinations work well like the sampled strings on Bitter Sweet Symphony (0:17) by The Verve and the electro theremin on The Beach Boys Good Vibrations (0:25).

Reader Application

  • If you are someone who primarily creates melodies by singing, try giving a melody line to an instrument instead of writing lyrics for it. Eric Clapton's lead guitar melody on Wonderful Tonight (0:57) could have become a 'chorus' e.g. “You look so good, You look so nice, You look so Won-der-ful To-night”... but thankfully it didn't! Don't automatically 'give' every melody you compose to the vocalist.
  • If you are an instrumentalist write some riffs! You may have to simplify your chord progressions or your vocal lines to make room, but it will be worth it.
  • Experiment with fills that are not just 'noodling' – melody is not exclusively the singers domain.
  • If you have some 'chops' on your instrument and are prone to overplaying when you write try humming a riff, or restrict yourself to playing guitar or keyboard with one finger.
  • Once you have a hook consider how to make it stand out. Having other instruments drop out is one way. An unusual instrument or sound is another possibility. Indeed trying out an unusual instrument can often inspire you to create a hook in the first place.


*timings are from the Let It Be album version

Further reading

Ticket 3: Create Instrumental Hooks
Gary Ewer: Exploring a Deeper Definition of a Song Hook

Join the mailing list to get the free, exclusive, Beatles Songwriting Academy podcast!