When it comes to using repetition it’s both a gift and a curse, its very useful for allowing people to hear a chorus melody and be able to sing along when the second chorus comes around, but not so much if everything stays EXACTLY the same.
1. Sectional Change
This is why often times you’ll hear producers and songwriters add new instruments, more vocals, a break, and a number of other ways to make a section that’s practically exactly the same, sound new and interesting.
One of my favorite examples of a sectional change to make a chorus really interesting is in Chet Fakers “Talk Is Cheap”. If you listen to the tune we get to hear the main chorus twice before the end of the tune, each chorus is almost identical to the other with the second chorus having a bit more layering then the first. But at the very end of the tune we hear him take out all elements other then bass, drums, and vocals. And my god does it open the tune up to a whole new feel, it also helps that he adds a lot of vocal layers to make it feel really open and almost angelic. Take a listen and hear how impactful that last chorus is to end out the tune!
2. Timbre Change
One of the easiest ways I’ve found to create forward movement in a song is to change the current sounds as they move throughout the tune. Having a really thin light melodic pluck in the beginning of the song is great for setting up atmosphere and mood, but if you want something to be more dramatic and impactful it’s important to give that same pluck more body and width so that it fills up more of the frequency spectrum and also creates more drive and interest for the next section.
A great example of this would be having a clean non distorted 808 kick for the verses, and then if you want to make the chorus really hit. Toss on some distortion or saturation and hear how it lifts that section up and makes it feel like your song has more movement.
3. Instrument Change
Similar to the idea of timbre, you can have new instruments play the same melody or chords and it will create a new auditory experience for the listener.
For example, if you think of any alt rock song from the 90’s, the melody that the singer was singing will be played by the guitar player in the “guitar solo” section or bridge. A classic example of this would be Nirvana “Smells Like Teen Spirit” where the melody from the chorus is played by the guitar in the bridge. https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=hTWKbfoikeg
Next time you’re working on a tune and you have a synth, guitar, or voice playing a certain melody. Try to have the bass at one point play the melody along with the instrument that’s currently playing it, I find that the bass joining the melodic motion really creates a unique movement that joins everything together to focus on just that specific melody. This also makes coming back to the bass line even more impactful, and will really launch your song into the next section or part of the arrangement.
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