The best syllabic recontextualization that I know of is DJ Premier’s use of a Biz Markie vocal in “Nas Is Like” by Nas. When Biz raps the line, “I’m highly recognized as the king of disco-in’,” he pronounces “recognized” as “recogNAAAHZed” with a loud and nasal emphasis on the last syllable. In “Nas Is Like,” Nas ends the first verse, “And of course, N-A-S are the letters that spell…” Then Premier scratches in Biz seeming to say “NAAAS.”
Here’s an interesting one. In 1983, Haruomi Hosono, a member of the famed Yellow Magic Orchestra with Ryuichi Sakamoto, and a well-known synthesist throughout the 1980s, was asked by the directors at MUJI to create “background music” for their newly opened stores. So, muzak. This blissful, sometimes atonal, wabi-sabi music has been described as “a playful, yet uneasy dream-space of aural fog.” It was released in a short run of cassettes and never heard about again… until now!
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Alex is a multi-instrumentalist, composer and producer from Sydney, Australia. He founded the post-rock band sleepmakeswaves, with which he has toured Asia, America, Europe and Australia. In his spare time he writes music for short films, produces bands and subsists on altogether too much coffee. Alex is the instructor of the free Soundfly course, Live Clicks and Backing Tracks.
+ Learn more on Soundfly: Create more powerful, emotional experiences in your music by understanding harmonic theory. Our brand-new, mentor-driven course, Unlocking the Emotional Power of Chords, can help you get there quicker!
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All of our mentored online courses come with six weeks of 1-on-1 professional coaching and feedback on your work. It’s like having a personal trainer, but for music! Whether you’re interested in diving deep into a production-related topic like Modern and Advanced Mix Techniques, Songwriting for Producers, or Making Music in Logic Pro X, or just in working with a Soundfly Mentor directly to achieve a musical goal specific to you, we can help you get there!
Jamie Ehrenfeld is the founder of CORE Music NYC, an artist services agency incubating upcoming musicians and teams committed to community engagement. She has worked as a music educator with the featured programs at Eagle Academy for Young Men and City as School.
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So, now that you’re equipped with some of the tools and knowledge of the most common forms of song structure, keep in mind yet again that there are no rules to songwriting! There are only basic ideas and pieces of advice that you can borrow from as you sit down and create something that’s meaningful to you! It’s helpful to have these weapons in your arsenal. When it comes down to it, the best thing you can do as a new songwriter experimenting with song structure is to try and write with all kinds of structures and figure out what works best for you.
Make sure you at least understand and consider maintaining and registering publishing ownership when you let others use your beat. Otherwise, you run the risk of making the beat to a song but never getting properly paid for it. Consider further that it is very easy to distribute your music as a standalone product. People like instrumentals, too. Spotify recognizes when listeners like your music and will help you find your listener base, algorithmically if not personally.
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