Once your song is written and you’re ready to record it, you’ll hopefully still find opportunities to to make it even better. Most of the time, rehearsing your song with bandmates gives you that opportunity.
For most good songs in the pop genres, getting a hook working properly is vital. “Hooks and Riffs: How They Grab Attention, Make Songs Memorable, and Build Your Fan Base” shows you how hooks have made the world’s top songs successful.
There’s a video online of The Beatles rehearsing “Hey Jude” in the studio, in preparation for recording. It’s very revealing, because it gives us a glimpse into that part of their process after a song is actually written.
The music in the recording is in F# major, so that leads me to believe that it’s been slightly sped up — I’ve never seen any reference to “Hey Jude” ever being done in that key, and we don’t ever see Paul’s fingers at the piano to confirm key. I assume they’re rehearsing in F major, unless someone can correct me on that point.
But in any case, there are several observations to be made in watching this rehearsal:
- They used humour… lots of it. As you likely know, humour was a big part of everything individual members of The Beatles did. Humour keeps things light, and allows ideas that you think might be a bit wacky to come forth.
- Their rehearsal time was, shall we say, unstructured. They’d start and stop spontaneously, even start suddenly improvising on a completely different tune.
- They’d throw in ideas even if they knew those ideas wouldn’t make it to the final version. Some bits were rehearsed slowly, some quicker, sung in different styles, using different voices.
- They used the rehearsal to come up with ideas to arrange the song. At times, they’d drop the vocal out entirely to try various instrumental ideas.
The lessons you can learn from watching this video are particularly relevant today because songwriters are often in the position (for better or worse) of producing their own recordings. The line between songwriting and producing is blurry now. It’s important to find the best possible way to present your song once you think you’ve got it written.
Even if your song is meant for you as a solo singer, turning the recorder on, letting it run, and then just trying out your ideas gives you the chance eventually to listen to those ideas to see which ones you might keep and which ones you might toss.
And the great thing about this kind of rehearsing is that you don’t have to keep anything you don’t want. But it does allow you to toss anything you want into the mix and see where it leads.
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