Looking to write a song but not sure where to start? Our Songwriting Sprint series is a wonderful place to begin!
In this series, Dennis (Hooktheory’s audio engineer) showcases his experience writing a hook in a short time period. In the process, he also highlights how you can use Hookpad to craft your own songs.
Dennis writes in many different genres within Hookpad. Today, his genre of choice is folk metal.
Follow along with the YouTube video and this blog post to learn:
- How to start making your own music in Hookpad
- How to build a chord progression
- How to write a catchy melody
- How to use instruments to elevate your music
Considerations For Your Song
To start writing your own hook, there are a few factors to consider. You can always change your mind about these things, but making some early decisions can give you a nice starting point.
Factors to consider for your hook:
- Chord progression
In Dennis’ case, he makes these decisions relatively quickly.
Choosing a Key
For the song’s key, he chooses A minor. This is a popular key among folk songs.
If you’re writing in a specific genre and are curious about popular keys, try searching for your favorite songs in our TheoryTab database. You may find trends you have never noticed, and you can even browse songs by genre.
Choosing a Chord Progression
Dennis then quickly adds a chord progression: 1-6-7-1. He mentions that this is a popular chord sequence in folk metal songs.
You can always use our chord and melody database as a guide if you’re unfamiliar with popular chord progressions in your genre.
Alternatively, the “Progressions” palette in Hookpad displays popular chord progressions in your key in an instant. This is another great way to preview chord progressions that are commonly used, according to our database of over 40,000 songs.
To build out the chord progression more, Dennis repeats the chord progression: 1-6-7-1-1-6-7-1. He then modifies the 4th chord (i) to v, to make the chord progression journey a bit more interesting.
Hookpad’s Magic Chord
Dennis is clearly a talented musician and has an intuitive understanding of where he wants his chord progression to go, but even if you aren’t as experienced, Hookpad can help!
Hookpad’s Magic Chord makes chord suggestions based on our database and can quickly give you ideas about where to take your song if you’re stuck.
If you select the 4th chord in the progression and press “Magic,” Hookpad will indeed suggest the v chord as a replacement.
Magic Chord is especially useful when you’re feeling stuck or know that you want to change up your chord progression but aren’t exactly sure where to go.
Choosing a Tempo
It’s simple to adjust a composition’s tempo in Hookpad.
Dennis sets the BPM for his hook to 180 to capture the lively energy of metal music.
From the get-go, Dennis is already making music that gets people moving.
Instrument Selection When Making Music
Every songwriter and producer works differently.
Some people build out full chord progressions and melodies at a computer, with a piano, or on a guitar. Then, they open up software like Hookpad or a DAW and experiment with instruments.
Choosing instruments in Hookpad
In Hookpad, it’s easy to experiment with chords and melodies and work with instruments at the same time.
This approach works well for Dennis, who opts for writing a chord progression, setting instruments, and then adding melody on top.
In the video, Dennis demonstrates how easy it is to layer instruments with Hookpad’s Bands tool.
In Hookpad, you can customize instruments for a song’s:
For this hook, Dennis is very intentional about adding both folk and metal instruments to create a perfect folk metal blend. Some of the highlights of this piece include:
- Flute Legato (Lead 1)
- Electric Lead Guitar Legato (Lead 1)
- Rock Bass Folk (Bass)
- Tuba Folk Short (Bass)
- Accordion Offbeat (Harmony)
- Power Strings and Classical Mixed (Harmony)
- Guitar Rock Offbeat (Harmony)
- Folk Metal Default (Drums)
Mixing instruments in Hookpad
After you’ve added instruments, you’ll want to adjust each of their volumes and octaves to create the ideal blend.
Mixing in Hookpad is easy. Simply adjust the volume and octave buttons to the right of each sound in the Bands browser.
Adding a Melody to Your Hook
Writing a melody is another crucial part of the process of songwriting.
Dennis chooses to write a slower melody, beginning with half notes, to create contrast with the fast-moving instruments he’s added.
Dennis is able to hum an idea and build it out in Hookpad. But if you’re just starting out, you can play around with different sounds and adjust as you go.
A helpful tip is to use Hookpad’s “Guides” feature. This allows you to see which notes are contained in the underlying chords so that you can write a melody with a nice balance of stable and unstable notes.
Some highlights of Dennis’ melody:
- Slower notes contrast with the fast-moving band instruments
- There is a variety of note durations to add complexity to the melody
- The initial melody over the first 4 chords is repeated, and then the notes in the latter half are adjusted (up and down the scale) to create more variation.
A straightforward yet potent melody, like the one Dennis crafts, can bring life to your chords and establish a straightforward narrative in your song.
Fine-Tune Your Song
Polishing your song is an art. Dennis ensures that the instrument levels fall into place cohesively, blending his combination of sounds harmoniously.
He introduces variations in the drum patterns for added dynamism and designs a captivating climax to keep listeners interested.
Dennis’ attention to detail is apparent in his persistent edits and adjustments. Through these edits, he crafts a top-notch folk metal hook.
Explore More Ways to Make Music
Dennis’s journey offers valuable insights for all, highlighting how to leverage Hookpad to craft amazing music.
This video overview on making music is only the beginning. There is plenty more to dive into, and Hooktheory is filled with quality resources to guide you on your adventure.
Free Hooktheory resources to check out:
Feel free to continue where Dennis left off by opening his hook in Hookpad. Keep exploring and making great music!