David Lingabee Songs & Songwriting

How to Compose your Music – Part 12



Rhythm (its speed and timing) – it’s usually expressed by a drum sound that has a predictable recurring pattern that stirs movement and emotion within a person when they hear it. Variations of how much time between each beat and the overall speed gives it its personality and the unique effect it creates in people.

Here is more info on rhythm, speed and timing

Matching the emotion and message to the rhythm, speed and timing
Matching your emotion and message to a rhythm, speed, and timing, that expresses that emotion and message clearly, meaning the feel of the beat, how fast or slow it plays, and which beats get emphasized and which don’t, is a great foundation to begin building your song upon.

The speed of the rhythm, and its timing, instantly invites your listeners to feel a certain way so they respond back to you in their own way. It can be a slow invitation, or a little faster, or a very fast surge for you to move along with. It all depends on the mood you want to create with your song.

Different rhythms create different motions in people, and that motion is a vital ingredient for any song. People like to be inspired and feel physically and emotionally moved by rhythm.

Drum machines with pre-recorded rhythms, and individual drum sounds, or similar set ups, are a great help in choosing a rhythm, speed, and timing for your song. They can express the desired emotion and message you want your song to communicate. Those pre-recorded drum rhythms give you a convenient way to scan through many different pre-recorded sounds until you hear the one that expresses what you want for your song.

You’ll notice even when you compose just the melody you want for a song, it will have a rhythm to it in some way, so keep that in mind when doing the exercise below.

It seems easier to choose the above qualities in one co-ordinated action
You can intuitively pick a rhythm and its speed and timing in one co-ordinated action that perfectly expresses the emotion for how you want your song to sound and feel. Or, you can take your time to choose each part, one at a time, and then blend them all together into one complete drum rhythm just the way you want.

Composing the bass sound for your song
Now it will be very easy to record your bass track as you have the rhythm, its speed and timing structure already recorded to easily compose against.

Practical Exercise for Step 7) Part 12
Emphasis is on learning to intuitively choose a rhythm, speed. timing, and bass soundtrack, that expresses the emotion and message you want your song to communicate to your listeners. Ideally you have a drum machine to use if you are not a drummer.


1)  With the emotion and message in mind for the lyrics that you just did the exercise for in Step 7) Part 11, scan through the drum machine’s different rhythms until you find one that fits. A live drummer is always better if you have someone, or if you are a drummer.
2)  Now adjust the speed (tempo) of that rhythm, and note the timing signature of that rhythm at the beginning of your song so anyone can know the type of rhythm you have chosen.
3)  Now listen to that drum sequence 20 times over, and make sure each time that its rhythm, speed and timing matches and expresses the emotion and message in your lyrics and what you want for your song. Adjust or change that rhythm, speed, and timing as you see the need, so it expresses the emotion and message you want for your song.
4)  Now create and record your bass guitar soundtrack against the drum sequence you have chosen, improvising as needed, till you are satisfied you have completed that action.
5) Re-listen to your final drum sequence with bass soundtrack while assuming the viewpoint of one of your listeners, and ensure you are completely satisfied that the emotion and message that comes across is exactly how you intended it and you are certain now that your listeners will get what you intended. Adjust, change or refine as you see the need.
6)  It is acknowledged that some composers may choose to create the main melody first and then do the above. It really doesn’t matter as long as they realize the emotion and message are part of their song.
Composers are truly unique, and to be totally honest it is hard to lay down a composing sequence that will fit everyone exactly, and even could be considered somewhat arrogant to think otherwise.


End Result
 You now have the confidence that you can fit a rhythm, speed and timing to the emotion and message that your lyrics were written in, and add your bass soundtrack, and end up being certain that your audience will receive and understand the emotion and message you intended for your song.
If you can do the above first, and truly know your rhythm and bass communicates the emotion and message for your song, you will find adding main melodies, harmonies, voices and other instrumentation to it will be much easier to do, and your final song will have a much bigger emotional impact on your listeners.

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