Classical guitar - songwriting

A Short Excerpt from “Hooks and Riffs”

The eBook “Hooks and Riffs: How They Grab Attention, Make Songs Memorable, and Build Your Fan Base” is part of “The Essential Secrets of Songwriting 10-eBook Bundle.” In it, you’ll learn why the hook is such a crucial part of pop songwriting, and why so many songwriting successes comes down to the success of the hook.

You’ll also discover that there are several different kinds of hooks, and that many songs actually use two or more different types in a bid to grab the listeners’ attention. And you’ll learn how to create each type, to take your songwriting to a new and higher level of excellence.

Here’s a short excerpt from “Hooks and Riffs”:

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Summarizing the Five Standard Characteristics of Song Hooks

Let’s summarize what we notice about most good song hooks:

  1. They have an interesting rhythm.
  2. They are comprised of a short, catchy melody.
  3. They use simple chords.
  4. They sound fun to play and sing.
  5. They usually appear and disappear several times throughout the length of a song.

That last point is important. It prevents the audience from getting hook-overload. In “Sunshine Of Your Love”, the chorus abandons the hook and gives a few bars based on a new rhythm and a new melodic idea. That ensures that every time the hook reappears, it sounds fresh and interesting.

Is That a Hook… Or a Motif?

There is another musical structure that needs to be described at this point: the motif. In music, a motif 20 shares similarities with a hook, but there are some crucial differences.

Like a hook, a motif is a short musical idea that gets repeated throughout a song. But while a hook gets repeated more or less the same way so that we easily recognize it each time it happens, a motif often serves as a background idea that gets developed and then modified to suit whatever section of a song it appears in. Hooks and motifs can appear in the same song, and often do.

If you notice, for example, that a song seems to feature a certain rhythm (like the jaunty “dotted” rhythm at the beginning of “The Star-Spangled Banner”), you’re noticing a motif. If you notice that many phrases in a song start with upward leaps in the melody (like those upward leaps in the verse melody of “Somewhere Over the Rainbow”), you’re hearing how a motif can glue music together and strengthen the overall structure. Those examples aren’t hooks, because they aren’t catchy on their own. But they are great examples of how a short, musical idea can make everything in a song sound related to each other.

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If you’d like to read more about “Hooks and Riffs”, check out the description on the purchase page.


Gary EwerWritten by Gary Ewer. Follow Gary on Twitter.

“The Essential Secrets of Songwriting” 10-eBook BundleLyrics become all the more powerful when they’re properly paired with a good melody. That’s what Chapter 5 is all about in the eBook “The Essential Secrets of Songwriting.” Polish your songwriting technique with the 10-eBook Bundle. Comes with a Study Guide.

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