Songwriting Tips: 7 Types of Songs
Today we’re going to talk about seven types of songs you can write and how they’re different. Our goal will be to help you write faster and simplify the songwriting process for your albums. This approach will also keep you from making bad decisions for the type of song that you’re making by pointing out what each type of song is ideally trying to accomplish.
#1. The Album Intro
This type of song is usually pretty short, one or two minutes or so. The objective of this type of song is to give a preview of the rest of the album. For that reason you can use parts that come later in the album including some chord progressions, riffs or melodies. The Album Intro helps to set the general mood and the general concept of the album. Use this to introduce the listener into the “world” of your album.
#2. The Image Song
When you’re a new artist, nobody really knows who you are yet, You need to show them what it is that you’re all about, so the idea with this type of song is to give a general overview of who you are as an artist, what your message is, what your style is, etc. It is usually a great idea to accompany this kind of song with a music video so that people can get a visual to help them understand your artist image and connect with you.
#3. The Single
The main objective of this type of song is to capture the audience’s attention and act as a pillar for your overall identity as an artist. For that reason singles are usually radio-friendly, as they will be used heavily in promoting you as an artist. They can also serve as a way to keep your audience engaged in between album releases by releasing them independently or as a preview song from the next album.
It’s very important that you have singles as an artist in any genre. Even bands that are a little bit more out there such as The Mars Volta or Tool have what many people would consider “radio singles”. This is because it helps to capture people’s interest and are meant to be digestible, catchy and very memorable. They have singable lines and melodies and are usually between three to four minutes long.
Even if you’re not trying to be on the radio, you should try to make your song as radio friendly as possible because singles are a way for people to understand your music in a small digestible package. Therefore consider having at least two or three of these in your album as well as in between albums.
#4. Album Interlude
Interludes are usually pretty short and are meant to give a break to the audience from listening to the album, especially if your music is very heavy or the concept is very complex. It gives your audience some time to process the album when listening to all of it in one sitting. Remember that, most likely, throughout the rest of your album you have put your audience through a journey. Interludes serve as a section of the album where you let your audience’s ears rest.
There are usually only a few instruments in album interludes and they can be very ambient. Believe it or not, interludes help listeners stay hooked and listening to the full album because they keep the audience from becoming overwhelmed or saturated by the other songs. I’d say two minutes is a good length to shoot for here.
#5. The Slow Intimate Song
This is the kind of song that people will play on a rainy day or late at night 😉
This kind of song slows down your album and helps it sound more dynamic. This is especially useful during live sets to keep the show from staying on one energy level the whole time, which could get a bit boring. You can also strip down the instruments to just a few and sing a bit softer. This type of song is more about taste than hype.
#6. The Anthem Song
This is the kind of song that is meant to be played in a specific time or place. For example, a song that’s for a club, or a song to listen to in the car while you’re driving, or a holiday song (No Pants Day song anyone???). The idea here is that you’re pairing a place or occasion with a song, essentially serving as a sort of soundtrack.
This type of song has been made by many, many artists in all kinds of genres, so think about making a song that is meant to be heard in a particular setting or moment.
#7. The Flex Song
Whether you’re a singer or a guitarist or a drummer, here you can go crazy on your instrument. As a note, if you audience are not musicians, they will be less likely to want to hear eight songs where you’re just playing really complicated things. So try to be musical in your decisions. If you start writing all your music just to show off then it stops being about the music, and it starts being about showing off. By being musical I mean make songwriting choices that evoke emotion and reach your audience and not just show off really complicated things to do on your instrument. That being said, it’s perfectly okay to have a few songs where you can show people how far you can go in terms of skill.
Now that you know a few different types of songs and what they’re used for it’s going to make it a lot easier for you to write by knowing the purpose the song aims to serve for the album.
You can always mix and match these (for example a single can be your anthem song; your interlude can be the same as an intro but slightly different, etc). If you just want to write for the sake of writing that’s also an option but sometimes it helps to know what the song you’re trying to write will be used for. This is just another approach you can take. Have fun with it, try it out, and see if it works for you.