Concept albums are more than albums with general themes but rather specific and purposefully made connections throughout the album’s lyrics. Concept albums typically contain multitrack songs created by a singular artist for a particular musical release, so releases such as greatest hits albums or themed compilations such as country music-themed collections of Christmas songs from various artists would generally not be considered to fit the definition. Many of these are based on stories, ideas, inventions, ideologies, and observations on human reactions, natural events, mental health, and more.
The idea of a concept album is not new. Artists and music producers have been doing it for years, and some of the most successful and critically acclaimed albums of all time are concept albums. Concept albums have been here for a while now. They started in the late sixties/early seventies and left behind like a lot of period stuff. Concepts draw people to themselves. They engage your listeners emotionally with your message, make it relatable, and make your writing feel like it has a direction and a purpose when you’re writing it.
Step by step guide for a concept album:
We’ll focus on what it takes to effectively create an album that will convey your message as an artist. As you approach making an album, there are some things to remember, such as creating an overall theme, placing your track effectively, and keeping the message across. Let us consider each of these in more detail.
Planning your concept or theme:
Whenever you first sit down to size up an album, you first have to answer the question: What am I trying to say with this album? To make a compelling album, you need to have a theme or central idea that permeates the entire album. Some great examples of this are Pink Floyd’s Walls, Metallica’s Black Album, Nirvana’s Nevermind, and countless others.
Depending on your skills, there are a few different ways you can plan for your story. Here are some examples of planning tools you can use to get your idea across.
- Storyboard: This involves creating images that represent scenes, events, and characters in your story to help you plan. It’s like writing a comic-book version of your account! If you come up with an excellent idea for a place, you can take it out and store it for future use. The same goes for any idea you come up with that you want in your story.
- Mind Map: A mind map is one where you place your primary concept in the middle of a blank sheet of paper, and from there, you branch out to different ideas for your idea. A good piece of software to help you organize your mind map is Bubbl.us, although I find that using the old “pen and paper” approach can often lead to more creativity.
- Journal: It’s the consistent writing every day that makes the difference. Because I only have to write a little bit every day, it is a goal! Then if I’m taking my time, I can look at it after a year of writing and see I come up with a thousand complex ideas! Every time you think of an idea, write it down. After a few weeks, you will start to develop a world.
Effective positioning of tracks:
The next big focus of your album should be to identify your most successful songs and rank them throughout the record. Think about it, if you had four hit singles and 12 tracks, would you front-load the hits at the beginning, leaving your listener wondering why the album suddenly stopped in the middle? Of course, you won’t! This is one of the critical roles of the producer in the music production process. The tempo of an album is essential for keeping the listener’s attention, which is why most of the best songs on an album consist of about three pieces from the intro, with 2 or 3 themes between each hit.
Create a universe:
Creating a paracosm (universe) for your story helps you decide what your account is about. If everything in your story is non-fiction, simply recognizing it and being aware of it is enough for this step, though I still recommend checking out some of the elements below to help you become aware.
Some of you will want to create a fictional universe (paracosms), so you’ll have to consider the many different characters and qualities in your world. Let’s take a look at some of the different elements that may be present in your fictional universe.
- hero(s) – good man
- adversary(s) – bad guy
- creature or monster
- world powers/government
Depending on how your story is, some of these things may or may not apply.
Maintain the message:
Another issue may be playing albums not establishing an identity across the project. The album suffers when covering multiple topics without focusing on the central message. If you are on the map with ideas and themes, it can be straightforward to lose your listener in the process. It would be great if you had a purpose for the music you are creating and an idea that drives your message so that listeners can relate to and connect with your music.
Once you have gathered the ideas for your concept album, it is time to start recording and producing your songs. With the help of the internet, you can easily find an online music producer to work with you on your project. Hiring a professional producer will help you navigate and ease the production process.