Have you ever listened to a song that was so boring you just couldn’t make it into the second verse? Building a sense of movement in songs is important to keeping listeners around. There are many parts of a song that you can use to your advantage when building tension and release. So let’s dive into the ways that you can build powerful emotional songs.
Adding More Texture
Usually, as the song progresses, you hear elements that are added. New elements should be introduced somewhere between every 4-8 bars in order to keep people’s attention. In a song, this can be a harmony, another instrument, or a change in what’s already being played to switch up the pace. Adding texture as you go along acts like ear candy for the listener, so they don’t get bored halfway through your song.
The melody is important in building powerful emotional songs. The melody isn’t just there to deliver your lyrics, but it’s there to add to it – becoming a part of the story itself. One way to build tension is to craft melodies that gradually rise in pitch, adding to tension that is eventually resolved through a descending melody. Try it out and see if you feel that sigh of relief once the tension is resolved!
Using Chord Theory
Tension-filled chords can be used to create climatic moments in songwriting as well. For example, the dominant seventh chord (V7) is a commonly used chord in order to create a pull towards your home chord or the tonic as it makes your listeners expect resolution. So after you use a V7 chord, you can either give them the resolution and return to your I chord, or you can keep them waiting.
The Anti-Drop was popularized by Charlie Puth in his song “Attention.” In this song, he builds up during the pre chorus, getting you amped up for a big drop at the chorus. But instead of getting a drop, he strips away everything but the bass, percussion, and his vocals. This creates a different kind of release that subverts expectation, and is great for pop and electronic music.
And there you have it! By using these techniques, you can create powerful emotional songs that will have your listeners at the edge of their seats. In a world where attention spans are fleeting, the art of building tension and release is an important technique to use in songwriting. So go on and create songs that will have your listeners hooked from beginning to end. Happy writing!