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Your Songs Stand Out
Lyrical & Musical Contrast
Danny Arena & Sara Light, All rights reserved.
the most obvious but easily overlooked songwriting devices is the
use of contrast. Most successful songs incorporate this technique
and once you are familiar with the various ways in which you can achieve
contrast, you can begin to incorporate it into your own writing. Contrast
is making each section of your song stand out and sound different
from the other sections in your song. There are several ways you can
do this both musically and lyrically.
Creating MUSICAL Contrast: Musically, contrast can
be achieved several ways:
MELODICALLY - Try to make the melody higher in the
chorus than the verse. It's a good practice to try to write your chorus
in your highest comfortable range, giving you room to make the verse
RHYTHMICALLY - If the predominant rhythm for the
verse melody is quarter notes, try making the chorus rhythm eighth
notes. Even if you're solely a lyricist, you can build rhythmic contrast
into your lyrics. A good example of a song that incorporates rhythmic
contrast between two sections is the old standard, "Somewhere
Over The Rainbow."
HARMONICALLY - Try and change the chord progression
between sections. An easy way to achieve this is simply by consciously
choosing a different chord to start each section. For example, if
your verse begins on a G chord, try starting your chorus on a C chord.
LYRICAL Contrast: Lyrically, contrast can be achieved
PATTERN - Change the pattern or placement of the rhymes between
verse and chorus. Let's say, for example, your verse has an A-B-A-B
-The sky above is blue
B -The ground below is green
A - When I look at you
B - It's the prettiest sight I've ever seen
try using an A-A-B-B pattern in the chorus. Remember, however, that
whatever pattern you set up in the verse should remain consistent
for all the verses. The same goes for your chorus.
SOUNDS - Vary the primary vowel sounds of the rhymes throughout
your song. For example, if you use a long "e" rhyme sound
in your first two lines (be/see), use a different rhyme sound in your
next two lines (light/night).
- Change the rhythm of the words between sections. If your verses
have long lines with lots of syllables, you might try using short
lines without a lot of syllables in your chorus. This will automatically
create contrast when the lyrics are set to music.
EMPHASIS - If you are primarily talking about "I"
and "me" in the verses, try emphasizing "you"
in the chorus. You don't have to make use of every type of contrast
in each song, but try to incorporate at least one type of musical
contrast and one type of lyrical contrast. The trick is to keep the
song interesting and contrast is a time proven technique for achieving
to see you on the charts!
Arena & Sara Light are professional songwriters living in Nashville,
TN. They teach songwriting courses and several artists have recorded
their songs. Sara is the writer of the John Michael Montgomery hit
single, "Home To You." They have just completed co-producing
a tape series called "The Songwriters Survival Kit." For
more information visit their website at www.craftofsongwriting.com