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Producer, guitar player, composer and maker of noise.

Hooks Today

Posted on | July 27, 2007 | 6 Comments

keyboard_playing.jpegHooks are these small patterns of music that gets stuck in the listener’s head. It’s always been the trademark of good songwriters to write hooks that become memes, spreading like a mind virus, resulting in more people purchasing the songs, of course.

Recently, the whole notion of hooks have changed with contemporary electronic music. It’s no longer a matter of writing an interesting small piece of melody, a guitar riff, or a three part chord that sticks. It’s becoming a matter of finding an interesting/odd loop that is the hook. As an example, a lot of Acid music is really trying to figure out interesting hooks in forms of acid loops.

That’s fine. My problem is that such hooks don’t stick as well into the mind compared with melodies. I myself have a hard time remembering odd non-musical hooks. Maybe it’s just me, but I think it’s a bigger problem.

Some classical composers, such as Claude Debussy, just ignored the whole notion of a memorable hook, and did their own thing. A lot of contemporary techno is also going along this road. Then again, most of the population would recognize any of Mozart’s most famous compositions, while fewer might recognize Debussy’s works — Clair De Lune being of course the big exception.

There are some interesting exceptions in the electronic world, Daft Punk and Chemical Brothers being those I think of (and of course Kraftwerk, Underworld, and the electronic music by New Order, of which Blue Monday is one of the biggest electronica memes ever). Hmm, what’s in common with these acts? Memorable hooks?


6 Responses to “Hooks Today”

  1. Doug
    July 28th, 2007 @ 6:42 PM

    I agree with you. Years ago, it was the hook that definitely/eventually caused the user to listen and buy the music became part of that slice of their life. Your example of Claude Debussy, lends itself well to many jazz artists, especially in the sub-genre of bebop and straight ahead, which for the most part, avoided the use of the hook (thus categorizing jazz as being “too complicated” to listen to with regards to the average music fan).

    For me, as a musician and fan of electronic music, I futher associate “electronic music hooks” not just to a melody, but the type of voicing used for the hook, modulation, oscillation, FX, etc.

    Good post.

  2. Motion
    July 31st, 2007 @ 2:29 PM

    what’s in common is that they’re artists not Dj’s..

  3. Daniel
    August 3rd, 2007 @ 11:06 AM

    I have to say, that I could not agree with you in 100% regarding Hooks Today, but it’s just my opinion, which could be wrong :)

  4. jay
    August 3rd, 2007 @ 1:42 PM

    I find now days, in hip-hop music, the hook is the only thing the artist is really focusing on. A great hook and then shite verses, its sad really. I think this is due to record labels pushing the marketability of the songs rather than good content. We need more songs like the Wu-tangs ‘Triumph’ which had no chorus at all, a classic

  5. Kent Sandvik
    August 3rd, 2007 @ 2:02 PM

    That’s interesting that there’s a genre where the hooks are overrated. I should listen to more hip hop and see what’s going on. It’s true, the basic drum patterns have stagnated with hip-hop, same drumming heard over and over again, but maybe that’s me showing my age.

  6. Kent Sandvik
    August 3rd, 2007 @ 2:02 PM

    Hey, let us know why you don’t think this is the case, always interested in hearing counter-arguments.

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