Music is a two-way street. How individual humans interact with music—and what genres they listen to—says a lot their about character. Conversely, you can gain a good idea of a person’s personality by peering at their favorite musical preferences. These biases and partialities reveal more about ourselves than we realize.
Nonetheless, what actually makes good music? What defines a song as a true bop instead of a flop? Let’s take a closer look at the essential elements of a good song. These core components pull everything together into a cohesive masterpiece.
Title and Lyrics
A song’s title and chorus are similar to that of a book title and its summary in terms of function. These core elements should speak to the entirety of the composition. The lyric line should ultimately summarize and provide a bigger picture of the comprehensive song meaning, which is why good songs contain carefully crafted details in both choruses and verses.
The language of a good song must be a duo of believability and relatability for the listener to understand its emotional theme. Sublime lyrics not only amaze listeners but devastate them with their framework of grandezza, anticipation, and humanity.
The melody is the so-called tune—aka the grouping of organized notes and pitches that form a song’s recognizable shape or pattern. A good melody has numerous characteristics, such as contour, phrase, and interval. Essentially, the melody has movement that catches on and on, with motion within both the notes and the rhythm.
This not-so-secret weapon requires variety in order to be sensational. Otherwise, it will remain static or monotonous. A good melody performed wonderfully by the main singer will feel like perfection to listeners. Even if the rest of the arrangement sounds great, a song lacking a memorable melody is second-rate.
Harmony and Chords
Harmony is a combination of musical signatures integral to the character of a well-constructed song. A good song contains such trademarks as riffs and chord progressions that vertically blend to support the main melody. Suitably harmonizing the melody helps to create unequivocal emotional subtext. You know it the moment you hear it.
Instrumentation and Percussion
Acapella is all good and well, but a standard song without layered instrumentation would fail to make a mark on the world. Instrumentation is undoubtedly one of the essential elements of a good song. Most popular songs contain a hodgepodge version of guitars, bass, keys, percussion, and vocals these days. Music production techniques and technologies are the mood makers of good songs. Sound integrity makes all the difference in the world. Without top-quality audio cabling and innovative production software, good songs wouldn’t be made or heard.
Not every smash hit on the charts contains similar composition structures, but each song crafted by a songwriter and producer uses that wiggle room to create one-of-a-kind magic. A good song is a good song for not only its unmarred internal elements but its perpetual external impact that lives on forever.