7 ways to lift the chorus

Ever wanted to make your choruses to stand out? I’m sure you did. The chorus that fails to offer more than the rest of the song is a common symptom of the clueless songwriter. It’s not that they necessarily fail to come up with good melodies and interesting arrangements. But even if the music itself is good, many people fail to realize that the dynamics don’t just miraculously emerge out of the tones of their music. They need to create it themselves. And pop music is all about the chorus. Once you learn what you can do about it to make it sound recognizably different, you’re golden. Then of course you can use these tricks in all kinds of other genres.

Transpose it

lift the chorus - make it stand out in your songHave you heard that your chorus melody’s supposed to go higher than your verses? It’s kind of a general knowledge now. It’s one of the simplest ways to make your chorus stand out. But sometimes it’s simply not enough for making the music more interesting. That’s when you reach for transposition. Play around with it; a perfect fourth usually does wonders.

Make it (more) wet

It’s not gutter time, so get out of it. What you need to make more wet is the sounds that are present during the chorus. Using reverbs and delays this way, you can give more space and thus, size to the sound of the music. Music tells a story with its sounds, too, after all. Going from dry and intimate to wet and spacious is an awesome way to embellish that.

Center your stuff

Yep. It’s another thing that always works: symmetry. Centering your elements, and also balancing them symmetrically around the center will give your choruses an ultimate beauty. It’s a psychological effect of comforting the mind, so it feels at home during those parts. In other words, it’ll be naturally attracted to the choruses more.

Double-time is your friend

Because you can lift your choruses rhythmically, too. The simplest way is to put them in double-time, but you can come up with other tempo changes, too. Just make sure that they are connected to the previous tempos in a way.

Make it louder

It’s one of the most obvious tricks, but it sure works perfectly fine. Just make sure you leave enough headroom for it to happen. Few things suck more than using up all the volume and dynamics in the verses, so you can’t increase them anymore in the choruses.

Distort it

Not necessarily the whole thing, but a couple elements. The lead vocals or the snare hits are worth a try. Give ’em some grit; a subtle amount can make all the difference.

Introduce more elements

It’s probably one of those “duh” inducing methods, too, but hey, what works works. Again, you need to be confident about your arrangement, and not use up all your little sounds before the choruses hit. Percussion stuff and smaller harmonic/melodic elements work the best. Use your imagination.

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