Applying Contrasts in Songwriting

Applying Contrasts in Songwriting

The Tunedly Team

Change is a phenomenon that affects humans in a very strong way. In the general sense, a lot of humans are always afraid to undergo anything that requires change being carried out. The safety of a routine and the avoidance of uncertainty are key to why undergoing a change is very difficult for most humans. If it is going well, why change it right? This is basically what change does to people, it throws them off their comfort zone and keeps them a bit disorganized. Most people are unwilling to accept a change because of the drastic switch in pivot and balance that comes with it.

In the same sense, a change in the general already accepted way of carrying out life activities is most definitely a process that our minds are quickly attracted to. We are programmed to point out a difference or change from an entity or a procedure that we are already familiar with, no matter how little, and ignore everything that remains static and unchanged. A man who always has full hair will definitely get more attention than normal when he decides to go bald. Our senses are quick to pick up alterations from the normal, which makes it easier to be able to identify looming danger, appreciate nature better, and in general recognize pleasure points.

Because we are programmed to notice changes as quickly as they come and can be used to give happy experiences to people generally, music composition has always been done with changes being taken into consideration to give listeners an enjoyable and thrilling experience. Different elements of music are both written in the composition of a song and executed in its performance to make the music expressive, interesting, and exciting. This is because the minute a song becomes less interesting to the listener, it stops being played.

Contrast is what defines these kinds of good changes that we notice in music that keep it interesting to us and the targeted listener. It has been an important part of musical composition for centuries. Conceiving contrast in music as far back as in classical compositions of Mozart, Beethoven and Hayden usually meant writing a piece of music that used two dissimilarly sounding melodies, with the aim of combining them together harmoniously to either create new sounds or a conjoined melody line to ultimately create a beautiful attention-grabbing listening experience for the listener.

In modern-day music, contrast is still very much in use for composition and performance, both in recording and on stage. If anything, the use of contrast has become more strategic and smarter when in execution. Modern pop songs and songs of all genres have contrasting verse, chorus, and bridge melodies, flows, and rhythm. However, unlike older compositions, contrasts may not necessarily be used to create a new idea of two distinct melodies.

But nevertheless, it is absolutely correct to assume or blatantly say that contrast is an important part of song structure which when provided or taken into cognizance creates interest in the music for the listener. Eventually, contrasts provide momentum throughout the song, keeping your listener's feet glued to the listening gas.

Nowadays people’s attention spans are relatively getting shorter, and it is your duty to keep them glued enough to build a connection with your song and keep it on their playlists for the longest while. Creating contrasts in the song could be a way to make sure this happens and here are a few go-to tips on how you can create contrasts on your song for your listeners.

  1. Creating contrast in pitch. This could mean that as the song progresses from verse to chorus, the pitch keeps getting higher till it reaches the chorus. This is quite evident in a lot of songs out there, pretty sure there’s one running through your mind now. The reverse could also be the case, with the verse having a higher pitch than the chorus. However you choose to make this kind of contrast, it’s your creativity that honestly comes into play, so doing what sounds best in your ears while contrasting the pitch is advised.

  2. Creating contrast in rhythm. In this case, alternating between longer/slower notes or vocal rhythms and shorter/quicker notes in different sections of the song is a great way to create a contrasting effect between such sections. Generally, verses have a faster rhythm and the chorus have the slower ones.

  3. Choice of words. Chorus sections usually have or use more emotion-heightened words and phrases in their lyrics as opposed to the verses. Having this in mind while writing your songs, remember to keep the most emotional message of the song at the chorus, using the most heartfelt words in them.

  4. Melody, chord, and harmony differences. Each of these elements can be used to create contrast between sections of the song in simple ways. For instance, the chorus melody could be simpler, easily learnable, and very repeatable than the verse. Similarly, the chords for the chorus could also be less complicated and stronger in comparison to the verse chords' progression. And finally, vocal harmonies could be more evident in the chorus than in they are in the verse. The key is to understand that these tweaks can be made, so however the direction you choose to use, as long as it remains interesting for your listener, that is what is important.

  5. Difference In Arrangement. Contrast can also be made in the arrangement of the song’s composition. Varying things up can be by adding more instruments as the song section progresses or by having the instruments play different rhythms in different sections. Something common in these is when the song’s chorus has fuller instrumentation than the other parts of the song.

Creating contrasts in songs is very important and pertinent in modern-day music composition. It is the kind of change that people are attracted to and willing to accept. Giving your song the beauty it deserves by applying contrasts in the sections go a long way to help you give listeners a memorably resounding listening experience.

Thank you for reading this article here on Tunedly, your favorite online music recording studio, music publishing company, and masked music discovery platform.