Four Hints For Writing an Effective Hook

Written by Gary Ewer, from “The Essential Secrets of Songwriting” website.

Fixing just one or two things can turn your songs into killer hits. Read more here.

Not every song has a hook that will jump out at you. But if you find your song is lacking something that draws the listener in, a good hook can be the missing element. A hook generally is any aspect of a song that keeps reverberating in the listener’s head long after the song is finished. But how do you write one that really suits your song? Here are four bits of advice.

  1. If you’ve written your song already, and want to add a hook, focus on basic rhythms and chord progressions that already exist in your song. It’s good if a hook has at least something to do with other components of your song. So find a part of the chord progression, and a distinctive part of a rhythm, and build your hook around that.
  2. The first point notwithstanding, there is no absolute requirement that your hook borrow from parts of your melody. In fact, a good hook will work as a partner for a melody even better if it offers something different from the melody to focus on.
  3. Even a good hook will get tiresome, so find a spot in your song where you allow the hook to disappear briefly. This can be during the bridge after the second chorus, during a “break” (a section of the song where rhythm and pulse is suspended briefly for effect), or at any other spot where you want.
  4. Don’t assume that melody, chords or rhythms are the only elements you can build a hook with. Sometimes a word in the lyric, shouted out in a certain way, can be a hook, or an instrumental shot, or perhaps even a silence, well-timed. Use your imagination.

All you need to do with a hook is to make it short, and make it interesting. Remember, if a hook is too long, it becomes hard to remember, and it’s not a hook if no one remembers it. Hooks need to be uncomplicated, and the attraction to it needs to be obvious and clear.

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