How to sequence your album perfectly
Think recording your album is hard? Well you’ve got another thing coming.
Yep, that’s right… Perfectly!
This means that choosing songs, organising songs, deciding how many songs, will become the easiest part of your album making process. After all, that’s what makes it stand out, right?
Using several proven album making techniques, you can easily master the art of structuring your project to perfection, giving your fans the ultimate listening experience.
What is album sequencing?
Your sequencing is essentially the organising process of your album. Asking questions like:
- Which tracks should I start and end with?
- What emotions do I want to convey throughout the album?
- When and how do I want to convey those emotions?
You can begin answering all of these questions by recording a hell of a lot of tracks. I mean as much as 100+. Which, if you love making music, should be a walk in the park. The real challenge comes with picking the right 10–15 tracks out of there and putting them in the right order.
(Quick disclaimer: these tips generally apply to all genres of music, but if some of them don’t apply to your sound then just simply ignore them :)
These are like chapters, these three sections make it easier to fill in the blanks.
In my personal opinion, your intro needs to hook the listener. We have such a short attention span in this day and age that you really need to tell the listener that you have the potential to make a banger before they stop listening.
However, it completely depends on your audience’s listening habits. Jazz listeners would probably have more patience than your average Trap enthusiast.
Kanye’s 808s and Heartbreak starts with his signature epic 6 minute opener ‘Say you will’ that sets the scene for a heart wrenching pop album. I mean, it even has a heart rate sound as the beat.
Thundercat’s Drunkstarts with two tracks that gradually build up to a crazier, more outlandish jazz track that is Uh Uh. Although it’s not completely in your face right off the bat, it still draws the listener in to build tension for the better tracks to come.
Don’t start with the best song, but start with one that tells you what they’re listening to.
Related article: How to make an Epic concept album that’ll get everyone talking
Think of it as a transition from the start and the end. It’s a sort of checkpoint that says ‘thank you for getting this far, here’s a banger!’
Tame Impala and what they did on Currents is a great example of this. It has one banger at the beginning, one directly in the middle and one at the end, all adding up to make an awesome album.
Think of this section as a way of keeping the album’s momentum up. They’re already interested in what you have to offer, so it shouldn’t be difficult to impress them further.
I’m sure you’ve heard of the saying ‘leave the best till last’. You’ve heard of it for a reason
Don’t just shove some random track! It’s a cliché. The outro is just as important as the intro because it’s how we will remember the album.
If you can’t find a good closer track in your files, record a new one. It’s so easy to see when an artist has ignored the significance of the finale.
Surprise them. Leave them breathless. End with the same energy and passion as you did when you started. It pays off.
You could even end with a sneak preview of what’s yet to come. This was done to perfection on Fugazi’s Repeater. The final track is such an experimental ballad that really doesn’t match the album’s style at all.
However it’s a great way of testing the waters to see if this new sound bodes well with your listeners.
Related article: 5 unique ways to make an attention grabbing album
Don’t you love an album that flows so neatly together that it feels like a huge track in itself? I know I do.
DVSN’s A muse in her feelings has a closer that fades into the first track, making it perfect for a continuous loop.
It’s just so nice to hear tracks that crossfade into each other, however always make sure the ending of every track coincides with the beginning of each track in any way possible.
Picking your tracks
If you are releasing what you would like to be a coherent album, piece a track list together carefully at first, using your best judgement. Listen to it through once or twice and get some input/advice from either a friend or producer.
Make it as short as you possibly can, without making it an EP. Generally, you want it to include the best of the best with regards to your work.
It’s all too easy to get carried away and say that you have an hour worth of flawless tracks that even critics can’t poke holes through, but this is very rarely the case with small to medium sized artists.
Be strict with yourself, make it as crisp as possible because if critics get even a whiff of a filler track, their mission will be to destroy you.
Don’t overstay your welcome.
Related article: How to make amazing cover art that brings music to life
Thank you for reading!!