How NOT To Write Great Music – Part 2

Before I delve into How NOT To Write A Hit Song – Part 2, I wonder – did you notice that today’s photo above is as colorful as yesterday’s photo?  That was intentional.  I wish I could tell you that there’s a profound reason behind my selection of colors and shapes.  I can’t but I think the bright rainbow colors unite the sustained theme of how NOT to write a hit song.

Now, let’s describe more ways  –  specific music compositional ideas  –  to finish the hit song (great musical composition) I began to describe yesterday.

How NOT To Write A Hit Song  –  Part 2

Let’s repeat from yesterday:

1.  make it 7 minutes long

2.  use 5 different singers

3.  make sure that no singing is heard for the first 2 minutes of the song

4.  make sure the bass  guitar only plays 3 different pitches (for all 7 minutes)

5.  make sure that the entire bass guitar melody is 6 notes long

6.  make sure that this 6-note bass guitar melody is played once and then repeated 51 times

NOW, here are the final five (5) steps:

7.  make sure that there are no chords (and, therefore, no chord changes) in the entire song

8.  make sure that the principal solo instrument in the song is an instrument that is not a preferred one – it should be an instrument that the audience for this song does not especially like.

9.  make sure that this song has appeal to U. S. and international audiences

10.  make sure that the subject matter of the lyrics is about a person who has no redeeming qualities

11.  make sure that this is not a love song

To repeat and expand from yesterday’s post…

Do you think the above eleven (11) constructs/stipulations are good advice for a songwriter?  For a composer?  (What’s the difference between a songwriter and a composer?  This is a question to be explored in future posts.)

Could you write a a great piece of music following these eleven (11) points?

If you wrote a song that followed these exact eleven (11) stipulations, would you be infringing copyrightThat is a complex question and one that could lead to debate, certainty, uncertainty, anxiety, anger or confusion.  Of that, I am certain.  If you’d like, please start off that discussion below.  I promise I can add to whatever discussion begins.  🙂

Do you know of anyone who has set out to write a song/musical composition, in such a foolish manner as mentioned above?


From the above description, can you name the famous popular song that fits the eleven (11) points above?  I will post the answer next week, if you don’t post it first.  Please post away!


Have a great weekend and great weekend music – start with this song:

It’s Friday, Thank God it’s Friday.  Did you just get paid? 

5 Replies to “How NOT To Write Great Music – Part 2”

  1. I love this 2 part music quiz! I get so tired of those who push formula methods on to young singer/songwriters. There is so much more involved in composing a memorable piece of music.

    Thank you again for inspiring me and my students!!

    P.S. I still can’t figure out the song :/

  2. I’m having fun with this! I’m glad you like it.

    You make an excellent point – that the “standard formulas” might not be the best (and certainly not the only) way to write good and great music. Great music is often risk-taking.

    I promise that you’ll smile when you find out, that you already like or love the song, and that you’ll appreciate the brilliance, originality and daring of this song’s construction (or so I want to conjecture!).

  3. Zuke – Yes. It was a huge hit on AM radio. I don’t know of it being used in a soundtrack. (Something for me to investigate!)

    It was before the first resignation of a U. S. President. 🙂

    It was not a song by Dolly Parton, Bill Monroe or Miles Davis. 🙂

    If you guess it, DM me.

    E. Michael

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