Ready set go. Five ways to start off a song.

If your a song writer you probably write hundreds or maybe thousands of songs over your lifetime. To avoid the Nickelback controversy it’s a good idea to arm yourself with an arsenal of tools and ideas to help yourself from self repetition. A good place to start is the beginning. How do you start your songs? What’s the first thing the listener will hear? Here’s five different ways you can kick it off:

1. Solo vocal. The human voice is the most powerful instrument of all. If you have a strong opening line having it solo will focus the listener on your message. You can even start with the chorus. Example: Killing me Softly by Roberta Flack.

2. Record the count in. One. Two. Three. Four. Say it. Say it in German. Put some guitar feedback behind it. Click the drumsticks four times. Record four finger snaps. Record your voice staying, “Start the tape!”. Example: Showroom Dummies by Kraftwerk

3. 16 bars of beats. If your music is headed for the dance floor is a nice thing to help the DJ out. How? Give him at least 16 bars of steady drums to help him mix in your song. In fact, by doing so your increasing the chances of your song being played at all.

4. Fade in. This is an unusual way to start a song especially in modern times. Before hard disc recording you heard this more often as producers would ride faders up in a song that was already in progress. Do you remember my related post titled “Bring back the song fade out.“?

5. Full on. A lot of times I start my songs by adding in one or two instruments at a time. Sometimes thats a sign of the amateur. Many songs just start off with most of the instruments and even the vocal already going. Load up an old song you did and just chop the intro off. Maybe it works better that way?

What’s your favorite what to start a song?

photo credit: Jon_Marshall

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Oliver Chesler

"Hello my name is Oliver and I'm going to tell you a story." I have been recording music since 1989 under the name The Horrorist. I have released over 60 singles and 4 full length albums. To hear my music please go to:

2 thoughts on “Ready set go. Five ways to start off a song.”

  1. Fade-ins would indeed be an intriguing way of starting a song, very different from the other models. Maybe not for radio-play versions, but for an album one. It kind of like walking in through the door to a rehearsal studio and hear the band more and more as you go through doors. –Kent

  2. Instrument starts don’t always have to be amateurish. It can definitely be used to great effect, i.e. classic “Smells Like Teen Spirit” moments, etc.

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