From the point of view of songwriting, 'how the mood of your song can truly resonate with your listeners' is a difficult thing to really quantify. So, the best way to start, is with a little bit of history and look what types of mood there are and how the moods of music work. In the 1930's Kate Hevner identified eight mood responses of music in humans. They were as follows:
Hevner discovered that human emotions could change by listening to music. Of course, this is not really a big surprise. However, what Hevner's studies also showed was that music is powerful enough that if a person was in a 'merry' mood, their mood could be intentionally changed to 'sad', first by listening to humorous music, then serene, followed by dreamy music, and finally, sad music. This means that songwriting has the power to make people feel the way you want them to feel. However, as we know, there are thousands of songs written every day and few, if any, resonate with the people listening. So, what is the secret?
Here, we think, it may be interesting to look at some famous songs and ask ourselves why they are so popular and what they have in common. One of the best ways of matching the mood of your song to the emotions of your listeners is to have a hook, that catchy bit of the song that everyone loves.
An all too obvious example is Hey Jude; although, this might be too good an example as the entire song seems to be one long hook. The famous “na na na” ending, which lasts four minutes, is a great hook. However, as most conventional wisdom says that a hook should last between 8 and 12 bars “better, better, better” might be a better (no pun intended) example of a hook. A few other examples of great hooks are Michael Jackson's Billie Jean with the line, “Billie Jean, not my lover...”, and Beyoncé's Crazy in Love with the hook, “I'm looking so crazy right now”.
Of course a hook doesn't always have to be lyrical. Going back to The Beatles, the opening guitar line is an absolute classic and while we're on the subject of great guitar riffs, how about the openings to the songs Layla by Eric Clapton or Deep Purple's Smoke on the Water?
In the same vein, many of the songs that most resonate with listeners have particular sections of the song that everyone loves. These work differently to hooks because they tend to be longer and are usually the chorus, but not always. For real success, it is also important that these sections come in the middle or towards the end of the song as it is the wait that helps build up this sense of anticipation and it is this sense of anticipation that helps the song resonate even more.
Some examples of parts of songs that work brilliantly for building anticipation are:
Queen's Bohemian Rhapsody:
“So you think you can stone me and spit in my eye?
So you think you can love me and leave me to die?
Oh, baby, can't do this to me, baby,
Just gotta get out, just gotta get right outta here.”
Dexy's Midnight Runners Come on, Eileen
“Come on Eileen, too-loo-rye-aye
Come on Eileen, too-loo-rye-aye
Now you're full grown
Now you have shown
And Meatloaf's Paradise by the Dashboard Light
“I couldn't take it any longer
Lord I was crazed
And when the feeling came upon me
Like a tidal wave
I started swearing to my god
And on my mother's grave
That I would love you to the end of time
I swore I would love you to the end of time”
In summary, how the mood of your song can truly resonate with your listeners depends on getting the right mood music, having some great hooks, and being able to write a song that builds with anticipation.
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