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In general, listeners should perceive a build in energy over the length of your song. That energy build is what keeps them interested, and keeps them listening. There can be a problem with song energy if you’re simply doing the same thing with verse 2 that you just did with verse 1. Replicating everything with just a change in lyrics may result in a lull in momentum. So here are five ideas for doing something different in verse 2, something that can cleverly build energy without being obvious about it.
- Use implied chords for Verse 1, and fuller chords for Verse 2. Implied chords usually means that the bass is playing the roots of chords, with a very sparse, or even non-existant, harmonization above it. It works really well as a verse 1 idea. Then in verse 2, add a chording instrument for something fuller.
- Add instruments to Verse 2. This goes hand-in-hand with the first point above. It works best if the instrumental addition is something subtle, something that just starts to fill in the empty sounds of verse 1.
- Use higher guitar/keyboard voicings, or a lower bass, in Verse 2. Usually, higher means more energetic, so moving one of your instruments upwards is usually a good idea. Keep in mind that a fuller, more energetic sound comes from a lower bass, so you may want to experiment with a higher bass for verse 1, and move it down an octave for verse 2.
- Add a rhythmic motif. You might think that a rhythmic hook works best if you introduce it more-or-less right away in your song, but try adding something new to the second verse. That new rhythmic idea can move front & centre for later parts of your song, such as during the bridge, or as a connector between the bridge and the final chorus repeats.
- Change key. This is a tricky one to get to work, but here’s one idea you might want to try: If your verses are comprised of two phrases that are basically repeats of each other, try a key change upward halfway through verse 2. With this sort of thing, moving up a semitone is an obvious choice, but try something like moving up a minor 3rd (from A major to C major, for example).
If your song has three or more verses, you may want to wait until the final verse to try modifications. Also, a 3rd verse can sometimes gain “implied energy” by suddenly quieting down, because it surprises listeners, and makes them anticipate the return to higher energy all the more.
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