How To Write A Popular Song - online manual

A non-technical how-to-do it system for the aspiring song writer.

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It is usual when the harmony is carried in the left hand to write the fundamental bass notes of each measure in single notes and not as the octave. An exception to this may be made in the case of a passage marked "Forte," but here octaves should only be used either as half or quarter notes. Eighth or sixteenth notes in quick succession written in octave form for the left hand are too difficult of execution for use in "popular" waltz songs.
It must be borne in mind that in all waltz songs, and in fact in all other " popular " songs, the number of measures in the introduction or prelude, verse, and chorus or refrain, should invariably be either 4, 8,16, 32, or 64. Introductions of over eight measures, verses over thirty-two, or refrains or choruses over thirty-two measures in Waltz, sixteen in Home, Mother and Descriptive Songs, are not desirable in the great majority of instances. In March, Coon or Pro­duction songs the refrain or chorus can be and usually is thirty-two measures in length, while the verses are either sixteen or not over thirty-two measures.
Coon Songs.
The introduction or prelude should comprise four, eight or sixteen measures finishing on the dominant or inversion of the seventh chord. Except where a "vamp" follows the eight measure introduction, the latter should run straight into the verse melody. A "vamp" may be composed of two measures (occasionally four) which are so formed that they can be played over and over again until the singer is ready to commence the verse: Two examples of a "vamp" are given: One from May Irwin's famous song "Albany,"
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E-Book - An Annotated Compendium of Old Time American Songs by James Alverson III