Create a Poignant Moment in Your Song with an Extended Measure

by Gary Ewer, from “The Essential Secrets of Songwriting” website. Read about Gary’s songwriting e-books here.


Eric ChurchIf you choose the typcial verse-chorus format for your song, it might suffer from the predictability that typcially comes with that form. One way to shake things up just a little is to try extending the length of one of the bars of your chorus. Eric Church does that in “Love Your Love the Most” just before he sings the song title, and it works really well.

In particular, this tip works best if your song title appears in your lyric at the end of your chorus. If your song is in 4/4 time, all I’m talking about is taking the bar just before you sing your song’s most important lyric, typically the song title. Extend the length of that bar for two beats, then sing your important line.

It’s a subtle way of demanding attention for the line, and sets it up beautifully. By creating a bit of “space” before the line is sung, it creates an air of profundity. It’s the same effect that good public speakers use when delivering a poignant line of poetry or relating a good story. They pause slightly before delivering that crucial line, and they’ve got everyone’s attention.

The nice thing about this effect is that it is understated. Another way of drawing attention to certain words in your lyric is to add vocal harmonies on words that carry lots of emotion. Also, you can grab a bit of attention for an important line by ensuring that the melody is shaped to demand some attention. Set emotion-filled words higher in pitch. And as always, make sure that the basic rhythmic pulse of your text happens naturally.


For more songwriting advice, check out Gary Ewer’s songwriting e-books. They’re available now, with “Chord Progression Formulas” being offered free with any purchase. Click here to read more.

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