"Themes and Motifs can help make a hook sound “Bigger!" (Part 1)
By George Landress (Los Angeles, US)
What is a Theme? What is a Motif? You don’t know this but you’re playing them all the time! Themes are melodies, Motifs are licks. These techniques can be used to enhance a songs arrangement.
Let’s take an example. You have a great song. You have a strong hook. You have a fantastic singer. You begin to rehearse the new song with the band, but something’s missing? The song does not sound complete. What’s wrong here?
Analyze the arrangement carefully. Create melodies AND licks for each section of your song. Alternate the instruments. The guitar can play a Theme or rhythmic Motif during the verses, while the keyboard/synth plays a bigger Theme or Motif to accompany the chorus/hook. Do not write more than one or two Motifs at one time. This can “clutter” up the song and get in the way of the singer.
Do you find it difficult to write or come up with Theme’s and Motif’s for your song? It’s easier than you think. Try this. During your band rehearsal, start playing the verse of your song. Continue to repeat or “Loop” this part of the song while your guitar player or keyboard player experiments with different ideas. Keep jamming to explore all the possibilities. How do you know you have found something good? Look around to your band mates. If they are smiling, this is a clue that you’re on the right track! Once you have a cool Theme or Motif for the verses, do the same thing with the choruses.
Ok, What have you accomplished? These techniques are called “Tricks” or “Devices”. Every song arrangement should have at least one “Trick” or “Device” (depending on the style of the song). These simple additions to your band performances contribute to the “Unique Sound” of your band and music. Parts of your song will pop out and add a new level of excitement to your songs.
Apply these ideas and principles. The more you can focus on each part of your song, the more detail will stand out when you play it! Above all, have fun, and keep writing. You will only get better in your craft. I will be writing more about this subject in the future so keep your eyes open.
I will also keep looking out for you!
All the best,
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