Intros are touchy animals. If you are a musician, or at least a wannabe like most of you so called “producers” (i.e. lame beat makers) are, you have probably butchered quite a few intros. If you think you have aced the topic of musical introduction, let me kindly shatter your inflated ego, dear n00bie. Here’s a couple of reasons why they suck like a steroid-fed vacuum cleaner.
Long intros are boring
If you are one of those people who love to write intros that go on for longer than about 30 seconds, I have bad news for you. They don’t only screw up the proportions of the song, but they also come off as something exceptionally tedious. Think about it. Even if your music is otherwise interesting (it usually isn’t), playing with the anticipation card for too long will surely make the remaining two listeners turn that crap off, too. It’s because you lead them on with the hope of some build. Then instead of that, you keep boring them with the same motif; probably the only one you could have come up with.
The unrelated intros
While it’s not such a terrible sin as the above one, it can still be pretty bad. When you have an intro that isn’t in any way related to the music that follows, it will make no musical sense. Or at least it will sound like two tunes following each other. Matching at least the tempo will help a lot. If you do want to play around with this aspect, you can do that by starting the intro slower and gradually take it up to speed, i.e. the tempo of the rest of the song. Motif wise, the trick is when you pick your intro, you need to include a motif in it you’re going to use later in the song, or alternatively you can include the intro motif later in the tune as well.
What? No intro at all?
It’s debatable again, because if you know what you’re doing, starting up with the verse right away can sound interesting. If you have a verse. That’s not usually the case with your everyday, intro-less beat. They simply suck on too many levels. One of them is that when the whole tune is lacking dynamics, structure and any other kind of development, not even having an intro will be sticking out like a sore thumb.
Are you married to the grid?
Because if you are, and your intro is just another piece of fully predictable musical trite, don’t believe for a minute that you’ll be able to perk up anyone’s interest. The DAW age brought us the era of total laziness. And also, the total refusal of anything that would come off as vaguely, rhythmically interesting. It’s because people who don’t create music in their minds rely too much on these guidelines. One of them is the grid. It results in everything coming up as an integer multiple of four, rhythmically. With the accent on 1 and 3 or 2 and 4, of course. If you would play around with the accent and make the intro ambiguously sound like one kind of pattern, just to finally reveal it as the opposite kind, it would sound much better. It used to be a pretty standard trick in pop music. “Painting by numbers” in music is not composition. It’s just an excuse to try to make yourself seem cool. And fail miserably.