Adding variations. Even the best hooks get old if you loop them for 3 minutes. A song may only have 2 parts (verse, chorus) but there are always variations. Lyrics change, instruments come and go, rhythms get subdivided.
When I was into mixing audio one author pointed out the common difference between an armature mix and a good one: Variations. This is even more true at the production level.
It hasn’t been easy for me. It’s easy to change things. Not so easy for those changes to make the song better. Could I add mad cow bell? Yes. Would it be a change? For sure. Song better? Doubt it. Ideas diluted? Probably.
Simple instrumentation? I’ve been thinking of keeping the instrumentation very simple and varying the performance. This song has 3 instruments. Voice, drums, piano. What if those were the only tracks? Just changing the piano rhythm can really change the feel. Ditto for the drums. Could I make that fly? Keep it interesting with 3 parts?
‘Cause the truth is the other things I’ve tried (bass, electric guitar, acoustic guitar) haven’t done it for me. So I’m going to leave them in and return later. Stepping away for a few days or weeks gives me perspective.
Orchestrating? I listen to this and say… Does it need new rhythms? Does it need more complicated chords? More melodies? I don’t think so. If that’s true, should I just support what’s already there? A C chord on the acoustic guitar on top of the C chord on the piano? Have the bass follow the root notes of the chords? Double the voice?
When I was in rock bands that type of thing was looked down on. “Dude, he’s just following the root notes!” But sometimes that’s what works best. Can you imagine Van Halen with a virtuoso bassist stepping on Eddies guitar work?
So that’s another idea I’m thinking about. Complimenting what’s already there with layers. Doubled vocals are all over the place. Multiple mics are combined all the time to get drum sounds. Adding a root note bass sure can make a song sound big.
Why risk diluting the strong ideas with weaker ones? Just for novelty? No thanks.
I was listening to a Keith Richards interview. He talks about the importance of taste. It’s a great point. Taste, or good judgement, should be making the final call. Not theory, or technology, or something you read about your favorite band. Every song is it’s own unique context with its own unique solutions.
Done… for now. Next up a poppy rock song.