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With Summer around the corner, expect to hear the lazy, hazy sounds of the season radiating from speakers at every public beach near you. Whether it’s an old favorite, like Seals and Crofts’ “Summer Breeze,” or one of the many selections from Mac DeMarco or Real Estate, the sound of a great summer jam is irresistible. But what exactly makes a summer jam, anyway?
Judging by some of the most iconic summer songs of all time, a great summer jam should do the following: make people move, inspire fun, and feel spontaneous. None of those are necessarily tangible musical elements, so this might seem a bit daunting when deciding to write your own summer song.
We’re here to tell you that you can make the chillest summer jam with your own Spire Studio. Let’s create something original using the Spire features by breaking down the elements of summer classics. Check out our final result in the Spire App by downloading the session here.
First, let’s tackle the instruments.
Besides being some of the biggest summer hits ever, what do songs like “Dancing in the Streets” and “Get Lucky” have in common? An airtight rhythm section. When composing your summer jam, it’s imperative that the rhythm section is completely locked in—it’s what gets people off their feet and grooving along.
Generally speaking, an upper tempo groove is preferable. Keep the drums minimal with emphasis on beats 2 and 4. Don’t be afraid to add a tambourine or a shaker for added rhythm, though there are lots of choices to choose from. Also, try to create movement in the bass by using arpeggios to create a bouncy feel.
Check out this rhythm section for inspiration.
Next you’ll want to add in some simple guitar tracks. If you’re planning on layering in a handful of composed parts, use your most consistent and grounded parts first.
Arpeggiating chords with ample reverb is a great place to start. Think of the guitar line in Don Henley’s “Boys of Summer.” It’s a driving part that fills up space while providing a strong melodic backbone.
Listen to these guitar parts on top of our rhythm section—they’re plugged into the Verb ‘65 amp simulation.
While we’re at it, let’s layer in some more guitar parts. Think about the cool, laid back guitar lines in the pre-chorus of Weezer’s “Island in the Sun.”
Adding some keyboard sounds is the best way to cap off your summer jam. You’ll want to find some sounds that are light, bubbly, and wet. The B-52’s classic dance hit “Rock Lobster” features a squirmy keyboard line that defines the group’s retro vibe.
Let’s add in our own keyboard sounds.
Now that we’ve compiled all of the ingredients, let’s make some sense of it all. When mixing your track, try to keep the rhythm section centered and as the focus. Try panning the guitars generously to either side in the Spire app’s Visual Mixer, and let the synths sit comfortably in the center/off-center.
When composing your summer jam, try to keep in mind that your goal is to make people move, inspire fun, and feel spontaneous. Building on a solid rhythm section and lush layers of guitars and synths will be the catalyst for the chillest summer hangs. Happy writing.