Name a piece of music. Chances are that you can sing, hum, or identify its “hook.”
A hook is an incredibly important part of any recording. And if you’re not highlighting it in your production, you’re missing out.
There are a lot of misconceptions about what a hook actually is, so let’s figure out how we can define a hook. Then we can figure out how to develop it and use it to our advantage in a production.
A hook does not have to be a lyric.
Songwriters often get caught up in the lyrics. (It is their job, after all.) But a common misconception about a hook is that it must be a lyric. This simply isn’t true.
A hook can be a synth line, a vocal riff, a beat, or even a rhythm. It is anything that is easily identifiable after a single listen through the track. It’s the part of the recording that “sticks with you.”
A hook does not need to happen over and over.
Most people that don’t like pop music criticize it for being too repetitive. Although a hook can be repeated throughout the entire song (not recommended :), it doesn’t have to be extremely repetitive. Even classical music has a hook. (Think Beethoven’s fifth).
Even though it doesn’t need to happen a million times in three minutes, it can. Just be sure you’re being appropriate for the genre. An extremely general rule of thumb: the pop-ier it is, the more you can repeat the hook.
Now that we’ve dispelled some of the nastier rumors about hooks, let’s figure out how we can develop them in our productions.
The first step is arranging your production in a way that can accent the hook. Don’t bury the hook behind a wall of sound. Make sure that it is the easiest thing to focus on in the recording. This can be done by choosing an instrument that will cut through the rest.
Be sure that you don’t compete with the hook too much. For example, if the hook is a guitar line after the chorus, don’t put a guitar solo over top of it. Don’t have the bass going crazy underneath it.
The next step is to make sure the mix cooperates with the hook. It’s important to have a balanced mix overall, but don’t be afraid to bring out the hook when it comes up.
Also, make sure that the hook is a great quality and recording. Spend time getting it right when recording it so that your mix is easier.