A Lesson On The Concept Of An “Intro”

You arrived at this page because you’ll want to learn about the concept of an intro.

Experienced musicians can attest to it that at one point or the other, we all find ourselves in a situation where an intro is needed for a given song and we’re to create it.

Believe it or not, it’s one thing to play an already existing intro and another thing to create an intro.

Although there are so many dimensions to the process of creating an intro, we’ll be covering the  characteristic traits that should not be missing in an intro. At the end, you’ll have a clearer understanding of what an intro is.

Let’s get started by taking a look at the concept of the intro.

The Concept Of An Intro – Explained

The term intro simply means introduction. The introduction is the earliest section of a song that introduces the main song by establishing its melody, harmony, and other vital components of the song.

The introductory part of the song (aka – “the intro”) is the section that makes the first impression on the listener. Consequently, the intro must be memorable, catchy, and interesting enough to captivate the listener.

The reason for an intro is to prepare the audience for the song before it is presented. An intro that is properly delivered will increase the anticipation of the listener for other sections of the song.

However, in a bid to make an intro exciting, it is important to preserve certain elements of the song like the melody, rhythm, etc.

The modification of all the vital components of the song may be counter productive – hence, when an intro is played, the listener is lost because he/she is unable to recognize the song.

One of the characteristic features of an intro is shortness. An intro should be as short as possible (but not too short.) Consequently, an intro may be derived from the latter part of melody of a song.

For example, using the melody of the song Total Praise:
…an intro can be derived from the latter part of the melody:
Here’s an example of an intro for the song Total Praise:
…derived from the latter part of the melody.

Believe it or not, when the intro below:
…is played, what the audience hear is the section of the song that says:

I lift my hands in total praise to you

…and that’s the idea of having an introduction; a short, memorable, and catchy section of a song that is played to establish the melody, harmony, rhythm, and vital components of a song.

Most importantly, the goal of intro is to create anticipation and prepare the audience for the song ahead of time.

“Permit Me To Digress A Bit…” 

Imagine the situation below:

You asked for fired rice in a local restaurant and after waiting patiently for 10 to 15 minutes, the waitress returns with a tray and covered dishes.

After the food was set before you, you could perceive the aroma of fried rice and you’re probably salivating. Slowly and surely, you reach out for the cutlery, and then open the dish only to see something else – maybe spaghetti or macaroni.

Believe it or not, the intro is to the song what an aroma is to the dish. Giving your audience an intro that is not related to the song will make them feel exactly the same way you’ll feel if the aroma is not related to the dish.

As musicians, we must understand the concept of an intro and consider the melodic and harmonic elements of the song as while while creating an intro.

Final Words

The intro is one of the most sensitive section of a song because (to a large extent) it influences the attention of the audience.

Most importantly, it makes the first impression on the audience, which can either be a good or a poor impression (I really don’t want to say bad.)

Although there’s nothing wrong with starting a song WITHOUT an intro, suffice it to say that a song sounds better with an intro because it adds an extra dimension by preparing the listener for a musical experience.

In subsequent lessons, we’ll explore other import aspects of the concept of an intro.

See you then!


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Chuku Onyemachi

Hello, I'm Chuku Onyemachi (aka - "Dr. Pokey") - a musicologist, pianist, author, clinician and Nigerian. I started teaching musicians in my neighbourhood in April 2005. Today, I'm humbled to work as a music consultant with HearandPlay Music Group for musicians in Africa and beyond.