False starts are an excellent way of placing a big neon signed punctuation mark in your song early on and giving your listeners an active incentive to keep on listening. Yes, false starts are jarring, they’re momentarily confusing, they’re hypnotizing, and they're magnificent.
“No No No” by the Yeah Yeah Yeahs is a prime example of a short, sweet yet enticing false start. In this particular example, the drums begin naked for a bar or so before stopping suddenly. From there, you hear a moment of talking before the drum intro winds up again and the music swiftly builds into the verse. What’s also great about this example is the fact that a simple musical pause is used to punctuate the transition from intro to verse—another incredibly effective means of adding extra personality and punch to your music.
How to use it: It's not compulsory to add background noise or talking to the end of your false start, but if your music leans to towards the hard rock or punk spectrum, adding a little talking or chanting can serve to add authenticity to your songs. That said, to add a false start to your songs that really punctuates your song early on, you should limit it to 16 bars maximum, and test run a selection of ideas or scenarios that lead into your song’s intro or verse before deciding on a winner.
Check out these ideas on how to start your songs.
Using some of these techniques may not come easy right off the bat, with a little practice, trial, error and persistence, you'll soon find that punctuating your songs is as natural as tuning an instrument or speaking a sentence.
After a short while, you'll be punctuating your music without even knowing it, adding new depth and life to each and every one of your arrangements, time after time, after time.