Bob Dylan - 1962

Several Ways to Create High Points In Your Songs

With most songs, you become aware that there is a moment where the greatest musical excitement happens. Typically it’s somewhere during the chorus, if the song uses one. If it’s a verse-refrain song, that climactic moment typically happens right at (or near) the start of the refrain, like “The Times They Are A-Changin’.”

If your song melody is one long tune — one of the verse-only formats, like Amanda McBroom’s “The Rose” — the highest point of the melody will often be anywhere in the second half of the melody.

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As a songwriter, though, you need to know that it’s more than the shape of a melody that can help to create a climactic moment for your music. There are other possibilities, and most of them should work together to produce a satisfying high point.

Here are some other ideas for creating climactic moments in your songs:


Song lyrics typically move back and forth between observational, narrative style words, and emotionally descriptive words. It’s those emotional lyrics that do the most to create climactic moments, and since those are the kinds of words we usually find in song choruses, you can pair up an emotional line with a melodic high point to make an even more effective high point.


You’ll notice that in most songs, instrumentation builds between the verse and the chorus, and so the busiest sound will happen in the chorus. For songs that use a bridge, you may choose to place your song’s most exciting moment there.

Wherever your song’s most exciting moment is, you’ll probably want to create a similarly exciting moment in the instrumentation. So that’s where you’ll consider adding a background guitar solo that fits in between lines, or create a busier drum sound, or just a fuller sound in general.

Chord Choices

Often a chord progression works in the background, doing its job in a quiet sort of way. But once in a while, adding new chords that haven’t been heard before can add to the musical excitement. In Lennon & McCartney’s “Hey Jude”, you can consider the coda section (at the end) as a kind of climactic high point. And it’s where we get the prominent placement of the I-chord moving to bVII (F-Eb), which adds considerably to musical excitement.

There are any number of ways you can add a sense of excitement to songs, so as the songwriter you simply have to use your imagination. The Bee Gees used a faked “explosion” sound before the final chorus repeats in their hit song “Tragedy“(at 3’36”). And even a momentary silence or pause can work as a kind of high point, as we hear at the end of the bridge in Taylor Swift’s “You Belong With Me“.

And as I say, you’ll get the best effect, and create the most satisfying climactic moment in your song if you combine different ideas and have them all occur at the same moment.

Gary EwerWritten by Gary Ewer. Follow Gary on Twitter.

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