“Sometimes a song will be great for spare parts. You have to be willing to give up a few songs to get that one great song sometimes. For me, I hope it’s always about quality and not quantity”.
This quote applies directly to my ongoing songwriting process. About two years ago, I sat down with a bunch of old tapes and got 100+ song ideas down to less than 10 finished songs. On the one hand, I was disappointed at the low number of actual songs. On the other hand, all these new “composite” songs are stronger with multiple hooks.
3 Hooks Theory
Since that time, I try to fit about 3 hooks in every song, usually one for each important song section: verse, chorus and bridge. More than that and the song become unfocused, like some kind of progressive rock song. Less than that and I have the feeling that the song is not as good as it could be.
I view each hook as an independent song idea with the potential of forming a complete song. Then, once in a while, I go through all my available song ideas and try to see if they could be combined into complete songs. Most time it doesn’t work, but when it does it’s really cool. Also, I find it easier to finish a song that already has 2 solid hooks.
One thing I noticed however is that instrumental spare parts have very limited usefulness. For me, they are generally the result of my guitar or piano noodlings and are hard to fit in any song. I try using them as intros, but they are often too long for that. I also tried using them as bridges, but I much rather have a singing bridge than a solo or instrumental break.
One Big Puzzle
Songwriting is like multi-dimensional puzzles where you have to fit melodies and chords with lyrics that are emotional yet make sense. Sometime, you can find that you already have the missing pieces lying around somewhere. Other times, you have to design a custom piece to finish the puzzle.