Repetition of melodic phrases gives you music that’s easy for a listener to remember.
“The Essential Secrets of Songwriting” 6-eBook Bundle comes with this FREE eBOOK: “From Amateur to Ace: Writing Songs Like a Pro”. 7 Songwriting eBooks for $37
Repetition happens in different ways, from the simplest: the basic drum beat – to something more complex: repeating melodic and rhythmic motifs. When writing song melodies, repetition usually happens by creating a short phrase, and then repeating it. There are lots of ways to do this. For example, in Jack Johnson’s “I Got You” from his “From Here to Now to You” album, the verse melody follows an AAAB form: the first phrase is then repeated two more times before a 4th phrase that differs.
In Mat Kearney’s “Where We Gonna Go From Here“, however, you get an example of a different repetition scheme that’s worth experimenting with: AABB.
Accomplishing this is simple:
- Create a short, 4-beat idea. (Kerney uses the tonic chord: “All of your ways and all your thunder…”)
- Repeat it with a different chord underneath. (Kearney switches to the dominant chord: “Got me in a haze running for cover…”)
- Create a new 4-beat idea over a new chord (Kearney uses the submediant (vi) chord: “Where we gonna go from here?”
- Repeat it with a different chord (Kearney switches to the subdominant (IV) chord: “Where we gonna go from here?”)
You’ll notice that the repeat of the second phrase – the 4th step above – features a variation on the melody, but it’s still essentially a repetition.
This AABB repetition scheme works best when the chords keep changing. When chords change, it tends to make the fact that it’s repeating a little less obvious, but you still get the main benefit of repetition: something that’s much easier to remember.
Written by Gary Ewer. Follow on Twitter.
“The Essential Secrets of Songwriting” 6-eBook Bundle looks at songwriting from every angle, and has been used by thousands of songwriters. How to use chords, write melodies, and craft winning lyrics. $
95.70 $37.00 (and you’ll receive a FREE copy of “From Amateur to Ace: Writing Songs Like a Pro.“)