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Your next hit song could last just sixteen bars!

A post by David Mellor
Tuesday October 18, 2005
Forget the three-minute single - the new unit of musical currency lasts just sixteen bars! Can you write a hit tune in just sixteen bars? (And will it make your fortune?)
Your next hit song could last just sixteen bars!

Beethoven, in his day, wasn't satisfied until a new symphony lasted at least forty minutes to an hour. Of course, there was no television in those days - his audiences demanded a full evening's entertainment of two or more symphonies, with perhaps a concerto and a couple of crowd-pleasers thrown in!

But then the attention span of the human race dwindled and the three minute single was born. In fact, one label in the 1960's had a written policy that no record could last more than two minutes! One producer did apparently get a tape through that lasted two minutes and sixty-six seconds (think about it!), but that might just be a tall tale.

Singles now have a distinct structure - two minutes worth of song, thirty seconds or so of breakdown, then repeat chorus and fade to around the four minute mark. That seems to cover most cases.

But now, if you want to be a successful composer, in the modern sense rather than the Beethoven sense, you have to be able to make your mark in just sixteen bars.

Take a listen to this...

Now isn't that the most fantastic piece of music ever? Well, for a kids' game, but no disrespect due to that. Unfortunately, there is no credit for the composer. A shame, but I suppose that's par for the course these days.

And the main part of the music does indeed last just sixteen bars, repeated on a loop. Granted, it does get a bit irritating after a while, but perhaps not if you are a nine-year old kid involved in the game.

The structure here is clearly a two-bar introduction, a first eight-bar section, a second eight-bar section, and then it loops forever. Well. at least as long as you keep playing successfully (I had some trouble with that at first!).

The market for this kind of music can only be on the increase. Massive increase I would say, seeing the rate at which my kids regularly find new games to play on the Internet.

Don't underestimate how difficult it is to write simple music like this well. To achieve your first commission, you would need a demo of a quality as good as this.

If you could team up with a games programmer and sell the entire package, so much the better.

Just think, where all the Chuck Berrys, the Lieber and Stollers, the Lennon and McCartneys and the Diane Warrens of the world have conquered the three-minute single and used up virtually all of its potential, this is a playing field that is wide open!

Not only that, it is level too - anyone stands as good a chance at making a success as anyone else. I predict that we have only heard a fraction of what this musical form is capable of.

A post by David Mellor
Tuesday October 18, 2005 ARCHIVE
David Mellor has been creating music and recording in professional and home studios for more than 30 years. This website is all about learning how to improve and have more fun with music and recording. If you enjoy creating music and recording it, then you're definitely in the right place :-)
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