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Music Studio Technology
Persona Digital Studio Arranging
Turning a Song into a Finished Recording
A hit song is usually developed as a group effort with different talents and skills merging in the final result. The songwriter creates the melody and lyrics; an arranger works out the structure and the accompaniment; musicians arrive to add their skills and inspirations. A singer must take possession of the song and deliver a sincere performance; a studio engineer assembles the recording, often one track at a time; a producer organizes the whole project and delivers the recording to a marketing system that arranges radio, TV and Internet attention. Not infrequently, a song passes through many singers, recordings, and marketing efforts before it reaches the right team with the right combination of talents to turn it into a hit.
The hook is the real magic of a hit song. Hooks are metaphysical creatures that defy definition. Some say the hook is a catchy riff or a distinct sound that occurs early in the introduction. Others realize that a properly constructed chorus is the best hook. The essence of a hook is that the audience likes it and wants to hear it again. Hooks are often an invention of the song arranger or a studio musician invited to fill in missing pieces as a song recording nears completion. The best bet is to have at least 2 hooks – one in the first 20 seconds and the second being a distinct chorus.
Instrumental arrangements of popular songs can follow a verse/chorus structure with modifications. A singer may repeat many verses with the same melody but different lyrics that complete a story, but in the instrumental version, too many repetitions without variation is boring, even annoying. One solution is to replace some verses with improvised instrumental solos. Another solution is to pass the melody of the verses from one instrument to another. A dialogue can be established between two instruments that resembles a duet between two singers, for example a soprano and tenor. The instrumental chorus is often louder and more exciting than the verse; but too loud or too long becomes annoying rather than exciting.