Concept records have been around for a long time. They appeared in the late 1960s and early 1970s and were put aside as an expression of that historical period in music. But suddenly they became fashionable again. How do you get your musical band to get excited and write one?
Step 1. Listen to many of the existing concept records
"The Dark Side of the Moon" by Pink Floyd and "Tommy" by The Who are required albums to understand this genre. Maybe you should also listen to or watch one of the Broadway musicals. There they are always composing music about a story.
Step 2. Strive to become an overall good songwriter
If you write poetry or play a musical instrument, then you are halfway there.
Step 3. Try to identify your concept
What is important to you? Do you have a message that you would like to convey to change society? Or maybe you have a vision of the future (or the present or the past perhaps) that you want to transform into a story? Or do you just have a common wild story you want to tell?
Step 4. Once you have a story spinning in your head, try to divide it into several themes or moods that make up the different parts / scenes and WRITE THEM
This is very important. If you don't start writing SOMETHING now, you won't get anywhere. You don't need to have songs in your head for now; you just need some moods and themes.
Step 5. Try to decide which specific styles, chord sets, repeating sequences of notes or chords (technically called "leitmotifs"), or sound effects each theme represents
The musical version of "Jeff Wayne's War of the Worlds" illustrates this very well.
Step 6. Begin to write the lyrics and music around the structure that you have already started to build
- Your concept album may include a couple of songs that are not related to the story, as an exception, but do not overdo this. An example to illustrate this idea is the album "The Black Parade" by My Chemical Romance. This album, which tells the story of a man facing death from cancer, makes an exception and includes a song like "Teenagers" that describes the fears of adolescence.
- Maybe you could watch your favorite movies and make songs based on them. Some people even try to sync discs with movies. Just be careful not to directly copy the plot and characters from the movie.
- If you want to create a concept album based on a story, it is perhaps easier to start writing the lyrics first. This will make it much easier for you to match the music with the story told in the lyrics, instead of composing the music first without knowing how much to compose to tell each part of the story.
- Perhaps you can try creating a pyramid structure like "The Dark Side of the Moon" in which the beginning and the end sound similar but the middle is very contrasting.
- Björk looks at conceptual albums in which a very basic and general theme is explored. She describes "Vespertine" as her most introverted album and "Medulla" as the most outgoing of her albums.
- You may want to start with a selection of words that will run through the piece. Think of examples of general words, then look up their synonyms, and then find other related words. Explore if you can compose your story like this: write some words that you feel have different connotations and look for the connections between them.
- Kate Bush's "The Ninth Wave" explores the relationships between characters around a single event. Try experimenting with different voices that represent as many emotions and using a variety of instrumentals or you may want to stick to a small selection to give your work more cohesion.
- You may want to start writing a concept album and then get so distracted by the great songs you're writing that you forget the overriding concept halfway through, just like the Beatles did with "Sgt Pepper's Lonely Hearts Club Band."
- It is good to make sure that your concept album includes at least one or another song that, even taken from the total concept of the album, makes rational or musical sense.
- When you record, be sure to keep your master tracks with you. You never know what new technologies will appear that will allow you or the whole world to continue enjoying your creation.
- If you can't come up with a concept, maybe it's not your time to compose a concept album. Create a normal album then. Later, when you have more experience, you can try the idea of creating the concept album again.