Silence as a Hook

I've said it before, I'll say it again: the strongest hooks are a musical booby-traps; rhythmic or melodic twists the listener did not see coming. As songwriters we wring our hands and gnash our teeth for hours trying to build memorable hooks out of thin air.

Next time, why not just let the air do the work for you?

As musicians and songwriters, we often fall in to the trap of thinking our job is to create sound. We become uncomfortable in silence, and the longer it lingers the more nervous we get. A mature musician understands that musical space is essential to creating emotion and groove. But what about putting silence center stage as the defining hook in a song?

I say, why the heck not?

When used correctly, dead air has a way of

                                                                        getting people's attention. It makes them listen harder, and fills them with anticipation. That is a pretty powerful arrow in any songwriter's quiver. Why not use it?

I used silence as a hook in my song "Quiet Company". Check it out on the My Songs > Country Songs page of this website. While writing this song I found that a brief period of "quiet" at the end of each chorus really amplified (can you amplify with nothing? In this case, I say yes!) the sentiment of the lyrics. It became even more emotionally powerful when I doubled the length of the silence at the close of the final chorus.

Do you know, or have you written any songs that use silence as hook? Shout 'em out...I would love to hear 'em!

*photo by AMagill


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