All of the producers are aware of the fact that music evaluation is not an easy task. For example, in sports, the evaluation of one’s results is very simple, as all you have to do is to compare it with the results of others. It is the same thing with a product; there are objective pieces of information about its cost, quality, expiration date, production costs, etc, so you can simply calculate which product has a higher value. However, when it comes to music analysis, the whole process of evaluation is a little different.
The problem is that there is not a particular music test that you can provide in order to evaluate a piece of music, as song analysis (and music analysis in general) is much more complicated than that. Music is a very specific form of art, as it is the only one that doesn’t require the sight in order to be experienced completely. However, that doesn’t diminish its complexity. Three main elements of music are harmony, melody, and rhythm, and each one has its own rules, parameters, and theoretical background. Of course, in the modern days, there are others important aspects as well. In the text that follows, some of these aspects will be elaborated in order to give you an idea what elements of a song should be considered when it comes to music evaluation.
Of course, before you start a song evaluation, it is important that you define what you expect from the song. The thing is that a song usually has its purpose; for example, it should be a motivational song or a song to dance with. In this case, a loud, powerful song with fast tempo can be considered as the appropriate one (for example, heavy rock tunes or dance music). However, if you change the purpose of a song into relaxing and stress releasing one than the mentioned attributes instantly become unwanted. For this type of tune, you will expect slow tempo, ambient, and dreamy sound, etc…
Another thing that should be mentioned is that music is a form of art that is highly subjective. For example, some people enjoy metal music and others prefer Jazz; these genres are completely different, but it cannot be stated that one genre is in any way superior to the other one. It goes even further - there are genres such as harsh noise that some people consider as interesting but for the majority of people, these sounds don’t have to do anything with the music. Besides this, music usually evokes emotional reactions so it is hard to separate feelings from the objective song evaluation. However, it should be mentioned that there are some aspects of music that could be examined and analyzed.
In today’s music, the use of technology has become so widespread that the auto tunes and similar improvement methods are considered as the understood component of the mixing process. This is why some artists are putting the sign on the cover of their albums in order to emphasize that their vocals haven’t been transformed. Besides the technical aspect of singing (harmony, staying in tune, etc…) there are also other domains such as the uniqueness and authenticity of the voice. Vocals are a very important element in the process of song evaluation, having in mind that vocals are the most recognizable element of every song.
Of course, every singer has lyrics that he sings. It seems that in modern popular music lyrics are usually not considered as the particularly important element of a song. They are all similar and pretty much about the same topics such as clubs, party, expensive things, etc… The song “My humps” of The Black Eyed Peas can serve as the great example; these are the lyric: “What you gonna do with all that junk? All that junk inside your trunk? I’m a get, get, get, get, you drunk, get you love drunk off my hump. My hump, my hump, my hump, my hump, my hump, my hump, my hump, my hump, my lovely little lumps (Check it out)”. When you compare these lyrics to Leonard Cohen’s or Bob Dylan’s, it is clear that this segment can have huge variations in quality. The high-quality lyrics are more poetic and are usually about important and more sophisticated domains of human’s experience, such as love, freedom, friendship, etc…
Besides vocal and lyric, the instrumental aspect of a song should also be evaluated. This is a domain that is known as the texture of a song and it is defined as the way that “melodic, rhythmic, and harmonic materials are combined in a composition”. Of course, you should remember that it is not crucial how many instruments there are, how many parts a song has or how many times it changes its key, but rather how all of these aspects are connected and combined.
There are a few expressions that are commonly used in music when it comes to dynamic. The term piano represents the soft and quiet parts and forte is used to indicate the louder parts. However, the basis of this aspect is the optimal change. The thing is that if a certain stimulus is constant, the people won’t find it as a very interesting one. On the other hand, if there are too many changes listeners might find it confusing and too complex so they will probably avoid it. Having this in mind, it is obvious that a song should have fluctuations in a dynamic that are not too often and drastic. The most of the songs have a quiet verse and louder chorus as this is an effective way to make a song interesting. Some of the best examples of the proper use of dynamic can be found in popular songs such as Smells Like Teen Spirit or Just.
Variety of sounds
This is a song aspect that has been almost totally neglected in modern music. The majority of popular songs have only a drum machine, a bass line and a keyboard or some similar instrument that is used to make a chorus richer (for example Blurred Lines). Unfortunately, this is why all the songs sound pretty much the same. However, in the past, pop songs had a more variety of sounds. In Beatle’s song A day in the life, an orchestra of 40 musicians was included. In this song, you can hear the violins, violas, cello, double bass, harp, clarinets, an oboe, French horns, trumpets, trombones, etc… If a song has more instruments it will ensure the variety and the richness of sounds (of course, if these are used in a right way), and thus it will be a more interesting and amusing to one’s ear.
If a song is authentic, it means that the emotions that are involved are honest and that the whole idea of a song is truthful. This is a concept known as larpurlartism, which can be translated as “art for art’s sake”. Besides that, it indicates the level of artist’s involvement in the song. Although there are no parameters that could measure this aspect of a song, you can rely on your intuition in order to estimate it. People usually describe it as that “something” that you can hear in one’s voice or hear in the music. If an artist is honest and is actually experiencing the emotions while playing or singing, you will probably hear that in his performance.
The songs that have some unique and original aspect are particularly valued because of their contribution to the evolution of music. Of course, these elements are sometimes considered as a problematic deviation from the norms, simply because applying new ideas can often be risky, as no one can know for sure how the audience will react. In order to determine if a certain song is innovative, you can ask yourself: Is there something new and something unique in this song? One thing that you should remember is that, just because a certain song is new and original, it doesn’t necessary means that it is a good one.
Besides the actual song components, it is also important that a song has a good sound quality. Today’s sound engineers have different music tools and music production software that they can use in order to ensure a high-quality sound of a song. Of course, this is also important because some elements of a song can be discrete and sometimes it is almost impossible
In today’s music business, it is crucial to recognize a good and perspective song. Of course, this is often not an easy thing to do, as there are numerous variables that should be taken into account. However, in the text above, you could get familiar with some elements and domains that have been shown as valid parameters of a quality of a particular song. If you consider all of these elements of a song, it is almost certain that you will provide an excellent song evaluation.