Why certain “eclectic” music is not popular

When I listen to what is dubbed “eclectic” music, there is a definite reason in my mind why it isn’t popular. And I don’t think that a society based on instant gratification is to blame. One of the key elements of good songwriting is captivating your audience through repetition. And repetition is one of the most difficult ingredients to add effectively to your song. Too much and you loose your listener. Repeat something someone doesn’t want to hear again, and you are finished. Just like adding salt to your soup, it is extremely difficult to find the right balance between too much and too little.

“Eclectic” music tends to rebel against repetition. They use a technique called “through composing,” which is what you will generally hear at coffee shops and empty bar gigs all over the country. It’s one of the biggest and most frequent mistakes an amateur songwriter makes. Basically, the writer will just free flow their ideas and meander the gamut both musically and lyrically, hoping to stumble upon something you find interesting. But even the poetic Bob Dylan repeats choruses and finds things that stick in your mind. The lack of repeating an idea doesn’t make it creative or interesting. It actually tells the listener: “there is nothing here important enough to have you hear it again.”

When I listen to radio stations playing “eclectic” songs, I find myself unable to listen for long. It’s a bit like grasping for straws. If there was something cool that passes by, waiting for that to come back may take awhile or may leave you stranded. Developing ideas and building up are great techniques to use in songs. They need to be done effectively. Sometimes the best songwriters will just repeat a certain chord sequence, or even one note that becomes interesting. There is nothing sell-out or populist about writing music people want to hear. Finding a phrase worthy of a repeat may be the most difficult part.


2 Responses to “Why certain “eclectic” music is not popular”

  1. Could you give an example of what you’re referring to when you talk about ‘eclectic music’? Are you talking about experimental electronica or singer-songwritering or…?

  2. I’ve never heard the term eclectic music before. I usually like what gets labeled alternative. My favorite station is Martha’s Vineyard Radio online… http://www.mvyradio.com/ … I never get tired of the variety of artists and styles they play.

    Interesting what you have to say about repetition. It drives me crazy at the end of a song when a final lyric is repeated dozens of times…. even if I like the rest of the song.

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s

%d bloggers like this: