Songwriting

BEAT TYPE & TEMPO

Beat type and tempo can drastically change the overall sound and feel of a track. It is particularly important therefore to bear in mind all the factors below when creating a beat.

Beats

TIME SIGNATURES:

The time signature of a song is particularly important when defining the overall feel of the track and establishing the way it flows from one part to the next. Typical time signatures include the most common 4/4 - indicating 4 quarter note beats in a bar. This is the most common time signature used in popular music. Other common time signatures include 3/4 (waltz) and 6/8 which has a slightly faster feel. 3/4 and 6/8 are common to folk music and tend to define what is typically a folkie feel to a track. Some bands/ artists chose to select odd or unnatural time signatures such as 7/8. these tempos can be good for creating music very much outside of the typical time signatures. This is common to metal music amongst other genres. It is good to experiment with a range of time signatures to develop a good understanding of what you like. It can also help to steer music in a different direction.

SPEED/BPM (BEATS PER MINUTE):

The speed of the song is important to define the rate a which the song progresses. Choosing the speed appropriately will help to define how the vocal might be written and performed on the track as a well as later instrumentation. It is good to experiment with a few different speeds until a particular speed is decided as being preferred for the nature of the chord sequence or progression of the song. The speed of a song may also change a different points in the song if decided. It is important to be open to changing the speed once more of the song has been written in order to find the preferred tempo based on what is actually happening in the song. Faster songs tend to have a more energetic feel whilst slower paced songs tend to have a more relaxed feel.

STRAIGHT/SWUNG:

Another aspect of defining the beat type/tempo is the nature of the placement of the beats and how they are played. Most typical popular music is fairly straight. This means that most of the beats fall directly on a beat in a bar. Reggae music however tends to have a much more groovy feel. meaning the beats can often be slightly before or after the beats of the bar (swung) by a desired variation. This is also the case more often than not in jazz and blues music.

in reggae beats often do not fall on the typical beat of the bar, compared to most mainstream music. Typically the bass drum would fall on the third beat of a bar (which would typically be a snare). This is another good way to define a interesting or unusual feel to a track in terms of beat type and tempo.

SYNCOPATION:

Syncopation is basically the offbeat application of beats when defining a beat type. by placing beats between beats of a bar you create a more syncopated feel. This is typical to funk and is quite common also to this displacement of beats within jazz music. it is also a common feature to popular music but tends to be used sparingly whilst still sticking to a fairly straight feel. It is not uncommon for beat types to incorporate elements of polyrhythm, which means to incorporate more than one rhythm type in a rhymes sequence. You might use 3 beats over a four beat sequence for example. It is another good technique to be aware of when experimenting with beat type and tempo.

HIGH DYNAMIC/LINEAR:

It is important when defining a beat to compliment the song itself, it is good to be aware of the intended dynamic within a song. Louder and quieter depending on the relevance of the section of the song. Dynamics within a song help to create different levels of impact to the listener. It is another good thing to bear in mind when defining beat type and tempo.

BUSY/SPARSE

The Beat type of song can significantly change the overall sound, feel and mood of a track. It is important therefore to experiment thoroughly to find something that works for all involved, don't be afraid to change it at a later date once more of the song is complete if necessary. it is good to experiment in order to create something potentially new and appealing, possibly not typical to most others application. This may help in assuring a greater popularity of the track to it listeners.