WRITING THE BIG CHORUS
Friday, April 8th, 2011
(Image by David Russell Talbot)
(The following is an excerpt from
Writing The Big Chorus: Delayed Gratification and The Power of One, 2nd. Edition)
One of our expectations when listening to a popular song is the Big Chorus. We've been conditioned to wait for it and we expect to get it. We sing along in the car at the top of our lungs, while others in traffic make fun of us. In modern society, where every second seems to count for more and more, a personal investment of time and emotion (even for 3½ minutes) can be rewarded by a big "payoff" delivered by the Big Chorus. Obviously, there are many examples of popular hit songs whose choruses would not be considered "Big" and some don't even have choruses. As far as commercial music is concerned though, Big Chorus songs really "knock 'em out of the park!" They are the kinds of songs that make publisher's mouth's water, and PRO's beat a path to your door. They also have the potential to invoke what is known, in songwriter circles, as the "mail box dance": a peculiar and uncontrollable bodily gyration which accompanies the receipt of a large monetary sum in the mail from performance royalties earned by the Big Chorus Song.
The over-arching principle of the Big Chorus song is the principle of
. Delayed Gratification is an important component of human psychology, and is
the ability to wait in order to obtain something we want.
We say "no" to that slice of cheesecake in anticipation of a more desirable future event- how good we'll look in that bathing- suit in six- weeks. We decline offers from friends to go out over the weekend so that we may study for an upcoming exam in the hope of earning a high mark. We don't simply think about future possibilities, we
future possibilities. And if our expectations are high enough, we are likely to wait for their fulfillment, as long as the promise of that fulfillment remains interesting, and doesn't take too long to get. This imaginative response provides the foundation for Delayed Gratification.
Looking good in a bathing suit and scoring high on an exam is one thing, but what sort of gratification are we expecting from a Big Chorus? Answer:
harmonic resolution and disclosure of meaning.
By it's very design, the Big Chorus song accomplishes this by
setting up expectations, denying them, and finally fulfilling them,
while keeping the listener interested during the whole process.
The Power of One is in delaying resolution to the 1 (one) chord
until the chorus, while setting up anticipation for it in the sections preceding it.
If the Intro., Verses, and Turn-Arounds have accomplished this, the listener is now ready for the
- the arrival of the Chorus. It is at this point that the songwriter must
fulfill and exceed expectations!
The root position 1 chord should hit the downbeat of the chorus like a meteorite!
Part 2 of: Writing the Big Chorus: Delayed Gratification and The Power of One, next week.
To order the new 2nd. edition
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"Hidden under the leaves"
Trust your Talent, Spend to your Genius
Write The Record
Writing The Big Chorus: Part Two
Writing The Big Chorus: Part One
Thoughts On Melody
The Sacred Space
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Paying to Co-Write
Squirrels With Mittens
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