How do I write a hook for the song I’ve already composed? Is that possible, or must the songwriting process start with the creation of a hook?
In a way, all songs have a hook if they’re memorable. A hook is that “thing” that keeps you focused on a song. But in general usage, the term “hook” refers to a rhythmic/melodic figure that repeats rather constantly throughout a song. Not all songs have that kind of hook, though, so as a first step try to determine if your song calls for it. If you think that what you’ve got written down is good but just lacks a little cohesion, a hook can do that for you. A hook will usually work as a good intro, and as glue between chorus and verse, as well as, of course, your chorus.
So how do you write a hook? Here are some tips:
- Part of the basic rhythms and chord progressions of your song should appear in a hook. Find one or two chords, and an energetic rhythm that serves as a strong component of your song, and repeat them over and over. Use it as an intro, between verses, and as part of the outro.
- There’s no part of your melody that must be in a hook. And in fact, my opinion is that the best hooks use a different melodic construction from your verse or chorus, to add some variety to your song.
- Allow a hook to disappear briefly in a song. For example, you may want to abandon it during the bridge, developing a stand-alone hook that appears only in that part of the piece. That way, when you come back to the song’s basic hook it will feel fresh.
- Experiment with catchy aspects of a song other than rhythm and chords. For example, let an instrumental effect be the hook (like the repetitive guitar effect from Gerry Rafferty’s “Baker Street”.
And how do you know you’ve written a good one? You’ll know that your hook works if you find yourself humming it long after the song is finished.
-Gary Ewer, from “The Essential Secrets of Songwriting” website
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