Singer-Songwriter - Recording Studio

When It Comes to Song Intros, Consider Going Minimalist

Song intros can play a very important role in the success of a song. Here’s a short list of what they typically can do for you:

  1. They might introduce the mood of the music, and that’s an important part of enticing a listener to keep listening.
  2. They usually (but not always) indicate the key of the song (or at least the verse).
  3. They often indicate the style, genre and tempo of the song.
  4. They usually give an indication of the basic instrumentation the listener can expect from the song.

But despite how important all those things are, there are ways in which an intro can just kind of mess things up. If an intro goes on for too long, or if it doesn’t amount to much more than just a strumming guitar, you run the risk of boring listeners, and then you lose them to someone else’s song.

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For me, when it comes to song intros, I find myself in the “less is more” camp. If I ever hear a song intro that I think isn’t working for the song that it’s attached to, it’s usually the case that the intro is:

  1. too long, and/or…
  2. too uninteresting, and/or
  3. just plain unimportant to the song.

If you’ve been trying to get your song intro to work, and all the ideas you come up with are just falling flat, try this: start the song with no intro at all. You may find that the no-intro approach is the best one.

There are many songs that have been very successful with no intro:

When a song has no intro, you rely on the verse to impart whatever mood, tempo, genre and performance style you find to be important.

And starting right away with the verse has a way of getting to the core of the song — the chorus — even quicker. In that way, a song without an intro can actually achieve what an intro is supposed to achieve: grabbing interest and enticing a listener to keep listening.

Gary EwerWritten by Gary Ewer. Follow Gary on Twitter.

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Posted in songwriting.

One Comment

  1. What are some examples of songs with intros that don’t work? I would offer that “Baker Street” by Gary Rafferty is one that fits because it works too well! IMHO, the rest of the song is a bit of a let down after the iconic sax intro.

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