rhythmic differentiation

Make song sections sound differnt with rhythm


  • You want a section of your song to sound different rhythmically  
  • You need multiple ways to create the distinction


Rhythm is fundamental, it moves us in subconscious ways and has a huge influence on how we perceive and respond to music. The following are the 5 most impactful ways to make change between song sections with rhythm.

Five ways to make change with Rhythm  

1. Straight/syncopated

Does your melody predominantly fall on or off the beat. Using syncopated off beat patterns in your main melody or chords transforms the feel of the song. Straight notes sound connected and grounded but less exciting. Just enough syncopation makes us want to move with the music. Too much syncopation leaves us lost. Mix and match these between sections to create change.

2. Longer shorter notes

Try out using shorter notes in the verse and longer notes in the chorus. Note what it does to the feel of the section. Notice the difference it makes to the amount of words in the section.

3. Melody placement: before on or after downbeat

You can start your melody in three different places: 

  1. On the first or down beat: this feels very stable and connected but can also feel overly simple and boring for the audience
  2. After the down beat of the bar: This ads some drama, the moment of silence builds a little tension in the listener which is released when the melody starts on beat two or three
  3. Before the first beat: this is sometimes called a pickup line or upbeat. The melody or lyric starts before the bar of music leading us into the line.

Use a mixture of these in your song sections. See what difference they make to the composition.

4. Change the length of phrases

Try halving the length of your phrases in the chorus compared to the verse. How about doubling the length of the phrase. Listen to the way that distinguishes the sections from one another. 

5. More or less rest space

Give the listener some rest space. You don’t have to have melody or lyrics all the time. Give the listener time. Change the density between sections and see what that does for my composition. 

Now what?

Now you have explored rhythmic differentiation take a look at making change using melody, harmony and lyrics.  

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