Songwriting Tip #1 – The Power of Simplicity
As songwriters, we try hard to distinguish ourselves and create memorable songs. Unfortunately, many songwriters often feel as if things need to be complicated in order to stand out – this is inaccurate. In this blog post, we’ll discuss the power of simplicity through studying Queen’s classic rock anthem “We Will Rock You”.
This blog post aims to summarise the first part of our video “How to Write a Killer Rock Anthem – 7 Secrets from Queen’s We Will Rock You’’. Click here to watch the video for more details, explanations and examples.
The Drum Groove
“We Will Rock You” begins with the drums playing a classic rock groove, predominantly using the kicks and snares. However, what differentiates this groove and really makes it stand out, is that the kicks and snares are being accented with foot stomps and claps.
Although all of this sounds extremely simple, it’s actually very difficult to execute it well because the reality of it is that simple is hard to do. The fewer elements there are, the harder those elements have to work to stand out. Otherwise, the simplicity of it could backfire and instead result in the song sounding boring. As Chopin eloquently says, “Simplicity is the final achievement”, and in the case of “We Will Rock You”, simplicity equals powerful.
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Why Does this Work?
The drum groove that is created feels tribal and primal. Even though it’s so simple and uncluttered, it still manages to drive the song forward from that very first beat because the general arrangement of the song is so sparse. When Freddie Mercury’s voice comes in, we’re hyperfocused on his delivery because of the very few elements that are in the mix in the first place.
This is where the power of simplicity really shines, as it allows us to draw the listener’s attention to a few specific elements and really make those elements land emotionally with the listener.
How Is this Achieved?
This powerful groove couldn’t have been achieved without layering the kicks and snares. There are a few ways we could go about this:
- Get other people to join in: You could record other people stomping their feet and clapping, and then use those recordings to layer with the kicks and snares. This creates a really cool natural variation to the layers.
- Record yourself: If you aren’t able to record other people, you could always record yourself stomping and clapping. This way, you’ll still be able to create a more natural feel, even without recording others.
- Using samples: You could also layer using different samples of people stomping and clapping. There are loads of free sample libraries online, and even Logic Pro X’s stock library has ample amounts of samples to work with. Through manipulating these audio files, you’ll be able to create lots of different layers and textures without needing to record anything live.
Conclusion: Songwriting Tip #1 – The Power of Simplicity
In conclusion, “We Will Rock You” teaches us that simplicity can be a potent tool in songwriting. By focusing on a few key elements, you can create a powerful impact and draw your audience’s attention to the core message of your song.
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