Creating Contrast by Changing Your Compositional Process

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Whether you write folk songs, rock songs, jazz, jazz/rock fusion, progressive rock, or compose chamber music most musical forms make use of the idea of contrasting sections.

While the idea I’m going to talk about in this blog has to do with writing music the concept works in other forms of creativity (painting, dance, cooking, gardening, etc…) .

I’m going to focus on the most basic of musical forms – the 3 part “Song Form”. Way over 90% of all popular music uses this form or a variant. The concept does translate into more complicated forms as well. I’ve chosen this form as it demonstrates the idea in a simpler context.

First I’m going to give a quick description of Song Form.

Song form is recognizable in music we hear every day. It is everywhere. It is annotated as:


Where A is typically referred to as the “verse” and B is referred to the “chorus”.

A driving force that makes this form successful is the contrast between the A and the B sections. This contrast can take many forms. It will usually go to a different chord center, the arrangement will change, may include harmony vocals, or more dense orchestration.


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