short songs anyone?

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so robert earle keen is working in shorter forms now-- anyone else try this consistently? i have to work to keep mine within 3-5 minutes, myself, but i am intrigued by this.

My songs tend to be rather long (3-4 minutes, sometimes more, although occasionally less), and I'd like this 50/90 to keep them generally shorter. In an event like 50/90, I'm thinking that shorter songs can both up my output and encourage listens (someone seeing a two-minute song may be more inclined to invest that time than start a four-minute song).

Accordingly, I've been giving some serious thought to trying to keep many of my songs under 2 minutes, much like Mr. Keen is doing. Because my songs tend to be lyric heavy, I'm either going to have to cut back on the verbosity, or sing really fast!

Of course, I'm also going to allow myself the freedom to go longer when I want, because heck, in the end, I'm doing this for me. Smile

It is certainly an art to keep your songs short yet memorable. Like the 30-second challenge over at FAWM (which became one of my fave tracks)

Sometimes a song is better when it's short and sweet, but I will admit that I personally find that is it is often harder to make a short song feel like a "full meal".

But a lot of people, including me, could occasionally benefit from cutting songs a little bit more to the bone, and leave the listener wanting for more, as opposed to being overwhelmed and bored.

It depends on the song, but I've been writing shorter songs of late. Less ballads, more rock.. or post punk types of things. Also, jingles, podcast intro and outro songs and other themed songs will naturally be shorter. I guess the point is, can you say it succinctly and still feel complete?

Most songs, probably over 75 %, last too long for my liking and I'm usually thinking, "Quit aleady, that's enough!!"
However, to each his own. It's a personal preference I suppose

I rather like this idea. I will sometimes write shorter songs when doing a punk-pop style, but otherwise not so much. Might be interesting to try this out in other styles.

@tsunamidaily - Nice article! There's a link in it to a great bluegrass song, too.
I love the 30-second song challenges that have popped up in 50/90 and FAWM the last couple years. Many of my songs aren't much longer than what Keen talks about - I feel anything over 3 and a half minutes qualifies as a long song for me, and I've done a bunch in the minute and a half to 2 minute range. When I perform them I might make them longer with a guitar or harmonica solo.

I feel like a song is done when its done. The trick I am still learning is knowing when a song I write is done

There is a certain amount of work to do posting even a 30 second song. Recording, editing, MP3-metadata, uploadin the demo to Dropbox, making the links work, doing the song page etc. All this for a 30 second song? I am too lazy for that.

But doing three one-minute bits and make a medley of them, that might interest me. It would still be one three minute song, but without the need to make it a "meaningful whole". I could put in any half finished and half-baked idea. Smile

I've wanted to do a bunch of one minute songs. It's hard to do a one minute song. A 45 second song is easier than a one minute song. And have them stand up as a complete song. Be real songs. But probably not this year.

I usually try to hit right around 2:30. It feels DONE. Jingles don't feel like full songs. I have multiple takes on a chorus idea, tho, to find the best one.

most stuff I do for film/tv is 2 mins, songs usually 2.30 to 3 mins. I'd feel constrained by a 1min song. That's intriguing.... lol

Agreed, @Hummingbird. Which is the challenge.

I always try to keep my songs short and to the point. I figure if a song stays interesting the whole time, it's a good song...I'd rather have somebody want to hear more than want the song to stop!

Gee, I find it hard to write anything longer than two minutes.

I don't actually think about time in my songs unless it's a traditional ballad with no chorus and it goes on for 5 + minutes... because then I know that no one will sit and listen to the whole story. I've written rounds, and plan to do so again this year. They can last under a minute or for 5 minutes, depending on how you arrange them, but the actual song is short.

Not a song, an instrumental but I've created some very short instrumentals (piano pieces) with the idea to compare Major and Minor keys for my students who are currently taking their exams and for anyone who is trying to identify whether the music is in Major or in Minor. During the exam the music sounds for around 30 seconds or less so my pieces were created with this timing in mind. It was fun to compose and I feel now I'd like to carry on creating short pieces Smile

Yeah, Fuzzy, Most of my lyrics will sing in 2 to 2 1/2 minutes wthout any embellishment Smile

I wrote 29? I think it was, sub-1 minute songs last 5090. It was great fun and I may do it again, but it kind of lacked nourishment, like popcorn

I typically aim for 3 minutes. When a song feels complete at 2:30 I will let those go too. Anything under that seems incomplete to me. Although the idea that 2 minute songs are somehow becoming popular is intriguing I'm not sure I believe it! If I hit 4 minutes I start looking for ways to shorten it.

One thing I see very short songs as good for is to use as placeholders for a more fully fleshed out song later on. Especially if you are going for 50 songs during 50/90 this might be a good way to get those bits and pieces into play.

Some of my favorite artists over the years (The Beatles, Jethro Tull, etc.) have used tiny songs to fill in the space between longer songs. I think that is a very cool use of these too!

A lot of four-minute songs are really two-minute songs sung twice, and I find myself liking it first time through, and then less and less as it wears on.

Good point, JC. A lot of those "tiny songs" of Tull are among my favorites, @johnstaples

Last year i did a 30 second song that has become a live favourite and i would like to do more really short songs to throw in the mix for live.