Name that tune and the "Intro"

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Name that tune and the "Intro"

I've been thinking about how to improve song "Intros," so that people (listeners) will be interested enough by the intro itself to continue listening to the rest of the song.

For any of us Old timers, who remember that old TV quiz program of the 1950s, "Name that tune," have you ever wondered why some songs are easy to remember by listening to a few notes or only a note or two?

Well, through personal observation... (you know... through Looking at it), I have come up with two conclusions that help explain the Human Memory "nitch" on this:
1) An Intro with an unforgettable hook.
2) I forgot the second one.... but don't worry... I still got my Human Memory "nitch,"
so it should come back to me by the end of the song.

Anyway this summer I am going to experiment with the "intro."

Any Suggestions?

Russ Dirol

Al Kooper was interviewed in recent years, where he could guess a popular song from just a few seconds of the intro.

I should be better at intros since I only listen to the first few seconds of most pop music these days before turning off the radio.

A good intro is something grabbing with a hook for sure.

The Beatles where great at intros and outros. A Hard Day's Night is a perfect example with it's chord smash, then the very melodic solo in the middle and the fade out end. Eight Days A Week is noteworthy for the perfect fade in and bookend finale, I Feel Fine for it's little feedback then cool riff, All I've Got To Do has that neato chord (same with Oh! Darling), Please Please Me with it's melody on harmonica, too many examples to list.

Like A Rolling Stone is one of those songs where it all just smashes at once, that drum hit and BAM the whole band is there and you know just what you've gotten yourself into. Bruce Springsteen does the same trick on Badlands, The Promised Land and the ever mighty Born To Run, I think a song like that you know it right away because the tone is there. You put on any Ramones album and bam! You're jamming right away. Smells Like Teen Spirit is a classic one for how loud the pick-up is! It hits that primitive sense of yes!

I love intros like The Clash's Lost In The Supermarket which outline the melody but put you into the mood. Japanese Breakfast's The Woman Who Loves You has an intro feel so amazing as well!

Then you have Patti Smith's Gloria which opens Horses with it's most gripping lyric. Even though it's a slow burn intro you feel compelled by it. Same with Sonic Youth's Teen Age Riot which opens the album slow but in a cool mood. Or their album Dirty which opens with an explosion of noise. The opening is pretty vital I think, gradually openings are fine if you have patience but there's nothing like a swift kick to the face like here we are!

It's odd but ya it is easy to tell a song right away but the intro. It's like the other part of the song along with the chorus that gets in your head sometimes.

[@BarryGoldman] what a great list of songs/intros. Teen Age Riot does everything wrong theoretically, at least according to the "rules" of the game today (yeah, "rules" Smile ) ; most memorable & successful popular songs have less than 12 seconds before the vocal comes in, in many it comes in right away. Hard Day's Night is simply brilliant in this way. But Teen Age Riot is just soooo good.

Teen Age Riot is too good! Oh man that song shattered my mind to bits, the song would not be as satisfying if it was cut down. The intro sets it up so well, with Kim panning speaker to speaker and then that destruction riff that just tears in. Similar deal with Dirty Boots which is also interesting for it's build to only like 30 seconds of a chorus and guitar meltdown. Then the last half is just pick up and cool down. I love how Sonic Youth structured their tunes.

Those rules are meant to be broken for sure. It's nice when a song kicks in like that if it's meant to, like the Beatles, but for something more expansive and longer a gradual intro works best.

Hotel California was also good for going against radio norms of it's time with it's about 50 second intro and the stop in the middle.

Got it...
If I haven't done it in 12 seconds, then it's time for a re-write. I'll add that to my list. Hey... I'm not afraid of a re-write.

I don't recall "any" pop song in the last Decade, that is actually memorable... you know like "ear-worm." But then like you I only listen to a few seconds, generally.

That's huge. It'll take me some time to absorb all of what you just said, But you have made my point to the fact that "Memorable" songs make the songwriter a chart breaker. All the songwriters you listed are Famous Chart busters NOW. It was not Just the Intro that made it possible, but all the other parts, and the performance as well. Which indicates in a nutshell, that a good intro with out a good song is just $%^_!

Russ Dirol

One Beatles trick I loved was the unaccompanied vocal pickup, a few beats before the band comes in (It Won't Be Long, Can't Buy Me Love and many others).

@TheTau just to be clear, the 12 second "rule" is based on a study of songs on the radio over the last few years. The implication is that the vocals should come in within that amount of time. If you want to get on the radio, I guess. Smile

Wshwewwwww... @TomS - You came in at 10.5 seconds on our FAWM collab. It could still be a HUGE radio hit! Smile
We still need to write the rest of that album, btw. just saying.

I'm a rule-bound, inflexible, musical totalitarian. :O

cts's picture

I'm not very good at intros. I remember reading a critique of the late Linda Jones' approach to a song and the writer mentioned that she just "jumps right into song." I'm kinda that way, too.