What is the songwriting component that separates a promising songwriter from an experienced professional? How much punch packs the chorus. Specifically, when you hit the chorus, does it affect the listener?
This is one of the main things I work on with the book in my SongTown Melody MasterClasses. Their choirs often appear unannounced and begin without the listener even knowing they are in the choir. This makes it very difficult to create any emotional impact for the listener. Even if you’ve written the most amazing lyrical song, the effect of that chorus will be affected if the melody doesn’t deliver the right notes at the right time.
There are many ways to signal to the listener that your course has begun.
Some of the more common methods include:
- Start the vocal melody at a higher range.
- Introduce a new twist to the chord in the chorus.
- Create more exciting vocal rhythms in your chorus.
Or you can take a “fix in the mix” approach…
- Bring the background sounds at the beginning of the chorus.
- Add the higher guitars in the chorus.
- Layer in the effect of the cold riser instrument leading up to the chorus.
I set a high every time I write a song, so I don’t rely on a mix to fix a song that’s missing somewhere. I want to write a song that will stand the test of time. A song that holds up whether it’s played on a single guitar in a café listening room or on the radio with a full production.
For me, the song is like your body and the production is the clothes you wear. You can dress your body in many styles and colors, but it’s still your body underneath.
Since this is a melody lab, let’s look at a great way you can get your listener into the chorus so they feel like they’ve hit a spot.
We’ve all seen a baseball pitcher do the boot. He stares at the hit, throws out some cue, backs up and flings the baseball forward. It is the movement of the wind that allows him to release the ball more quickly. It also creates one of the most stress-filled two seconds in sports. As the bowler’s end approaches, everyone is on the court as well anticipation What will happen. Will the hitter hit his home ground? Will he hit? Then swing!
Finishing your song should have the same effect. Strong winds add tension and throw the listener forward in the chorus with the force of a ball speed of 95 miles per hour.
So, let’s listen to two songs accompanied by breathtaking intervals.
Check out Dan & Shay’s song “Speechless.” This song contains simple verse, conversation, and introductory chorus. It gives off a romantic vibe, doesn’t it? Right before the chorus, there is a pause while the singer extends the word I More than two beats before you hit it right into the rhythm of the chorus. Go listen to it now. I mean it! You can only get the full effect if you hear and feel it.
You say you’ll go down in five
the smell of your perfume
float on the stairs
You do your hair like you do
I know I’m going to be a mess
The second I see you
You won’t be surprised
It happens every time
It’s always on a night like tonight
Thank God you can read my mind
Because when you look at me with those eyes
2 wind sound pulses: I……….
I stare at you, standing there in that dress
What you do to me is no secret
Because watching you is all I can do
And I can’t speak
You already know that you are my weakness
After all this time I feel nervous
Every time you enter the room
I can not Talk
This sound works on the word I It is the ending that pushes you into the chorus. Although it’s only two beats, it instantly pulls you into an emotional chorus. While picking up the simple eighth note will only provide a fraction of the emotional impact.
The wind has the same effect as an archer pulling the string back on the bow and shooting the arrow at the target.
tension and release. the wordspeachy It is the pessimistic malice of the chorus – and when we get there, we have no doubts.
Let’s look at another example of filtering. Check out “Better Now” by Post Malone. The song begins with the chorus, but (for full effect) listen to the song as you enter the second chorus.
Let’s start with the lyricist’s introductory course. Notice how the words You might think you are As a fatal filter…
And I’m Rollin, Rollin, Rollin, Rollin
With my brothers like Jonas, Jonas
Drinkin’ Henney and I try to forget
But I can’t get this shit out of my head
Windup line: You might think you…
Better now, better now
You’re just saying that because I’m not around, not around
You know I never meant to let you down, let you down
Did he give you anything, did he give you everything
You know I say I’m better now, better now
I’m just saying it because you’re not around, not around
You know I never meant to let you down, let you down
Did he give you anything, did he give you everything, oh wow
To summarize, the windup is the place immediately before the beginning of the chorus that builds tension and pushes the listener into the chorus. Does every song have a resolution? No. But it’s another powerful tool for your toolbox – one that you can drag into the right position to elevate your song’s impact on the listener.
I would like to give a shout-out to my friend Matt Kearney who first credited me to this technique about eight years ago. Matt is one of my all-time favorite artists and is a master at figuring out how long the filter process should be. It is a feeling. Too short, and not enough tension. Conversely, if you go too long, you will lose tension.
There is always a nice spot. A little experience will get you there.
I’ve included a video below showing several different filter lengths for a single song.
While listening to the music moving forward, try to notice those notes that pick up the melody before the chorus. Next, try a conclusion for your next or two songs.
write on! Clay