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avoiding second verse boredom
Old 4th February 2009
  #1
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andychamp's Avatar
 
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🎧 15 years
avoiding second verse boredom

Supposing everything else before went right, that's the usual scenario:
-intro: grabs your attention, builds some tension, maybe lets you see a bit of the chorus to come.
- 1st verse: sets the mood, pulls you in a bit more, makes you really yearn for that chorus
- chorus: total harmonic and rythmic explosion. This is everything you expected, and more: makes you wanna dance and sing along.

And then there's the dreaded 2nd verse. (And then the 2nd chorus, and then the 3rd verse, and then...)

You can't stay on the same energy level as on the chorus, or you'll have nowhere left to go to, come the 2nd chorus, and you can't just go back to where you were in the 1st verse, because that'd be boring.
Kind of a "Damned if you do it, damned if you dont" situation

I'm aware that there's a lot more involved that just the mix, namely a great arrangement.

So: how do you keep the listener's attention throughout the whole song, from a mixing perspective? There's gotta be more than just pushing faders up and up all the time.
Old 4th February 2009
  #2
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psycho_monkey's Avatar
 
🎧 15 years
introducing a new part (or conversely, dropping something out) would be the obvious answer.
Old 4th February 2009 | Show parent
  #3
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dropblacksky's Avatar
 
🎧 10 years
I like to hold back on the first chorus a bit... give them the idea, but not the full harmonic explosion. The chorus needs somewhere to go as well.

Sometimes it can be cool to strip down the second (more likely the 3rd) verse and make it some sort of breakdown... just bass and drums for example.
Old 4th February 2009 | Show parent
  #4
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Blast9's Avatar
 
🎧 15 years
Different melody

Different vocal texture (e.g. whisper then scream)

Just drums and vox

Different singer
Old 4th February 2009 | Show parent
  #5
csl
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Does it always have to follow a pop structure? Try a different arrangement for the second verse, developing from the first so each iteration of verse/chorus adds something new to the mix.

Personally, I wish pop music experimented more with structure rather than giving me 3 or 4 identical choruses throughout a song -- if I want to hear it more than once, then I'll play the track again.
Old 4th February 2009
  #6
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china jam's Avatar
 
🎧 10 years
Quote:
Originally Posted by andychamp ➑️
So: how do you keep the listener's attention throughout the whole song, from a mixing perspective? There's gotta be more than just pushing faders up and up all the time.
If you have good lyrics, this shouldn't be a problem.
Old 4th February 2009 | Show parent
  #7
Gear Nut
 
🎧 10 years
Quote:
Originally Posted by china jam ➑️
If you have good lyrics, this shouldn't be a problem.
Yea, I agree.

Also, I think Keith Richards once said "don't make the verses too interesting or they'll take a lot away from the choruses" ...

Thirdly, you can always go back to a verse 2 which is more powerful than verse 1 but less powerful than chorus 1. Just the drumming and maybe an added textural element can do the trick very often. The remaining choruses just get additional stuff like extra vocals, ad libs, extra guitars, etc. etc. etc.

It's not rocket science, really ...
Old 4th February 2009 | Show parent
  #8
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lakeshorephatty's Avatar
 
🎧 15 years
Something about taste in production is that an idea, no matter how great, only needs to happen once.

The listener comes back because they like an idea you had in a song, it may have only been 10 seconds long, so to hear it more, they listen to the song 4 times, then they're HOOKED.

What's my point? A great idea if overused in any song doesn't bring a listener back, no matter how great it is.

I tend to build songs one idea at a time, let each chorus introduce something. The final chorus may have everything the song has to offer, or it may come down a bit from the focal point of the song, which might be prior to that last chorus.

Often a popular song structure happens as follows.

Introduce basic structure in first verse or lead in.

First verse has the core elements, but not a lot of dressing

First chorus decent but fairly subdued, not many of the final ideas.. If you have 10 layers to the chorus, you're maybe hitting 3 of them this time.

Second verse you may pull back to something simple but introduce a new element. or you may want to build a new element onto the first verse structure, or you may want to change up the style completely of every element, thats in the arrangement stage though.

Second chorus could be the hugest one, or the last one depending on the song, in the arrangement i often like to extend this one somehow or have a small instrumental section but more if not all elements have come in now, some of them may have started in the 2nd verse and continued through, others may pop in in the chorus.

Often the song strips right down after this to a build section for a final chorus, which doesn't have to be the most insane one.

Pop songs are silly though and i choose not to often follow this structure.

The world needs varied song structures and taste, a lot of which seems to be lacking in todays music.

The driver seems to be FEAR.. "if that first chorus doesn't hit 100% i won't get a listener out of this song"... if you go for the superficial listeners you won't get lifelong fans.

Regards,

Russell
Old 4th February 2009 | Show parent
  #9
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china jam's Avatar
 
🎧 10 years
I should also mention that, if you're 2nd verse lyrics pale in comparison to the 1st then a good trick is to use the 1st verse in the 2nd and the 2nd in the 1st (). As long as it makes sense of course.

It makes sense to have stronger lyrics in the verse after the 1st chorus.
Old 4th February 2009 | Show parent
  #10
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🎧 10 years
A common technique is to take the 1st half of the second verse, lo fi the vox, lo fi the drums or make the drums roomy and kill off some of the arrangements and/or add other instruments
Old 4th February 2009 | Show parent
  #11
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china jam's Avatar
 
🎧 10 years
Quote:
Originally Posted by soundsundergroun ➑️
A common technique is to take the 1st half of the second verse, lo fi the vox, lo fi the drums or make the drums roomy and kill off some of the arrangements and/or add other instruments
USA
Old 4th February 2009 | Show parent
  #12
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Colonel Blues's Avatar
 
🎧 10 years
Do not give the complete story in the first verse... As someone said above and compare, we aren't supposed to be "commercial", but... teasing is the secret in many domains, uh ? seduction, love, games, etc... don't you think so ?
Old 4th February 2009 | Show parent
  #13
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Newcleardaze's Avatar
 
🎧 10 years
Quote:
Originally Posted by china jam ➑️
If you have good lyrics, this shouldn't be a problem.


The song should be telling a story or relaying something of importance that takes the idea to the next level. I find this usually leads to fun changes in the chorus the 2nd and third time around. I've also found that for the 2nd chorus, double its length from the first (which should be kept intentionally short) and give more story... something that leads into a bridge or a breakdown, if you're trying to follow the pop structure.
Old 4th February 2009 | Show parent
  #14
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Nu-tra's Avatar
My writing is all over the map! I have written tunes with the chorus at the end of the song. I just wrote a tune the has a bridge right after the 2nd chorus. It weird new wave/ punk type stuff though
Old 4th February 2009 | Show parent
  #15
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Infernal Device's Avatar
 
🎧 15 years
Quote:
Originally Posted by bigramp ➑️
all the songs kurt cobain wrote are as linear as ****. no breaks. no fx. no non-sense.

and they work

that's just raw talent and honesty. not overthought and dumb strategy. there's no "tricks". that's THINKING music, not MAKING it. it's like dancing about architecture, to quote someones signature here
Hell yes. Not just Nirvana, listen to all the great records of every era. Just artistic people doing what they do.

Great post bigramp.
Old 4th February 2009 | Show parent
  #16
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goldenlotus's Avatar
 
🎧 10 years
Quote:
Originally Posted by china jam ➑️
I should also mention that, if you're 2nd verse lyrics pale in comparison to the 1st then a good trick is to use the 1st verse in the 2nd and the 2nd in the 1st (). As long as it makes sense of course.

It makes sense to have stronger lyrics in the verse after the 1st chorus.
Nope. The opening verse is much more important in making an impression on the listener. I always place the strongest lyrics right up front. YMMV
Old 4th February 2009 | Show parent
  #17
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china jam's Avatar
 
🎧 10 years
Quote:
Originally Posted by goldenlotus ➑️
Nope. The opening verse is much more important in making an impression on the listener. I always place the strongest lyrics right up front. YMMV
There's no NOPE about it..

Nearly all of my favourite songs are slow burners.

I wasn't suggesting opening the song with a weak verse. A good song has balance.
Old 4th February 2009
  #18
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Heartfelt's Avatar
 
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Quote:
Originally Posted by andychamp ➑️
So: how do you keep the listener's attention throughout the whole song, from a mixing perspective? There's gotta be more than just pushing faders up and up all the time.
First, I can't ever see a third verse working. Great second verses are even better when they are shorter than the first.

But from a mixing perspective, DYNAMICS are EVERYthing.
Old 4th February 2009 | Show parent
  #19
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skiltrip's Avatar
 
🎧 10 years
I always feel if you're trying too hard to achieve some goal in composition, it's probably starting to suck. Put it down and come back to it.

Unless of course that's how you write, and I'm sure some do.

For me, the song writes itself. When I'm too conscious of my writing or the process itself, it ends up sucking a lot of the time.

Sometimes the best stuff I come out with is when I'm setting up the mics and strumming about checking levels and placement and I kinda get lost in what I'm doing. And regarding structure, often there is only one verse in the beginning, no 2nd verse at all, but something completely different. Often times no bridge... which can originally come about out of laziness but then work incredibly in the final result. Again, I'm only partially aware of how and why and what I'm writing. It's good to let go and not worry about what you're 'supposed' to be doing, or how you're supposed to be doing it.
Old 4th February 2009 | Show parent
  #20
Gear Addict
 
🎧 10 years
Quote:
Originally Posted by csl ➑️
Does it always have to follow a pop structure? Try a different arrangement for the second verse, developing from the first so each iteration of verse/chorus adds something new to the mix.

Personally, I wish pop music experimented more with structure rather than giving me 3 or 4 identical choruses throughout a song -- if I want to hear it more than once, then I'll play the track again.

Exactly. Please save the stock arrangements. A great part has so much more power if it only happens once.

C
Old 4th February 2009 | Show parent
  #21
Gear Addict
 
🎧 10 years
Quote:
Originally Posted by skiltrip ➑️
I always feel if you're trying too hard to achieve some goal in composition, it's probably starting to suck. Put it down and come back to it.

Unless of course that's how you write, and I'm sure some do.

For me, the song writes itself. When I'm too conscious of my writing or the process itself, it ends up sucking a lot of the time.

Sometimes the best stuff I come out with is when I'm setting up the mics and strumming about checking levels and placement and I kinda get lost in what I'm doing. And regarding structure, often there is only one verse in the beginning, no 2nd verse at all, but something completely different. Often times no bridge... which can originally come about out of laziness but then work incredibly in the final result. Again, I'm only partially aware of how and why and what I'm writing. It's good to let go and not worry about what you're 'supposed' to be doing, or how you're supposed to be doing it.
+1

C
Old 4th February 2009 | Show parent
  #22
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WestBerliner's Avatar
 
🎧 10 years
Quote:
Originally Posted by skiltrip ➑️
I always feel if you're trying too hard to achieve some goal in composition, it's probably starting to suck. Put it down and come back to it.

Unless of course that's how you write, and I'm sure some do.

For me, the song writes itself. When I'm too conscious of my writing or the process itself, it ends up sucking a lot of the time.

Sometimes the best stuff I come out with is when I'm setting up the mics and strumming about checking levels and placement and I kinda get lost in what I'm doing. And regarding structure, often there is only one verse in the beginning, no 2nd verse at all, but something completely different. Often times no bridge... which can originally come about out of laziness but then work incredibly in the final result. Again, I'm only partially aware of how and why and what I'm writing. It's good to let go and not worry about what you're 'supposed' to be doing, or how you're supposed to be doing it.
I agree 100% with this. come back to it, even if you have to let it sit for a few weeks. experiment with structure, ear candy is always nice. I also find that if i'm thinking too much about writing the song, it just simply doesn't happen, or i come out disappointed. go with what you feel
Old 4th February 2009 | Show parent
  #23
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andychamp's Avatar
 
1 Review written
🎧 15 years
Quote:
Originally Posted by skiltrip ➑️
I always feel if you're trying too hard to achieve some goal in composition, it's probably starting to suck. Put it down and come back to it.

Unless of course that's how you write, and I'm sure some do.

For me, the song writes itself. When I'm too conscious of my writing or the process itself, it ends up sucking a lot of the time.

Sometimes the best stuff I come out with is when I'm setting up the mics and strumming about checking levels and placement and I kinda get lost in what I'm doing. And regarding structure, often there is only one verse in the beginning, no 2nd verse at all, but something completely different. Often times no bridge... which can originally come about out of laziness but then work incredibly in the final result. Again, I'm only partially aware of how and why and what I'm writing. It's good to let go and not worry about what you're 'supposed' to be doing, or how you're supposed to be doing it.
I basically agree with you, at least in regards to my own "compositions". That's why some of my stuff is just 42 seconds long and totally unstructured. (And quickly recorded, too) But I like listening to it, because it makes a point and makes me want to hear it again.

But my original question relates more to mixing someone else's stuff, when changing the given structure isn't an option.
Old 4th February 2009 | Show parent
  #24
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Jules's Avatar
Quote:
Originally Posted by psycho_monkey ➑️
introducing a new part....
Introduce percussive '16s" elements ie shakers, congas, bongos, tambourine, grace note shuffling on the snare or simple accoustic guitar strumming or keyboard arpeggios etc.

Introduce a previously unheard counterpoint melody "riff" / filigree - that works with, in reaction to and around the lead vocal.

Introduce lead vocal harmonies or double tracking on key words or phrases, increase the rate that the harmonies or double tracking occura as the verse progresses to give the listener the feeling of 'getting more and more' as time passes.

Ask the drummer if they are playing the EXACT same pattern as the 1st verse. If so, consider introducing additional "custom" accents on the hihats, cymbals or toms in reaction to important vocal moments. To give a corny example, if the 2nd verse lyrics mentioned "photographs" you could have the drummer do a couple of open hihat accents to sound like a camera shutter just after the word 'photograph". Sometimes as a producer you just have to point out the spots to a drummer who might seem to be sleeping on the job and ask them to wake up a little, work with you to place accents here and there to keep listener interest high. (they dont have to be as corny as the example I gave.. heh)

If you have asked the drummer to chill out busy kick pedal work in the 1st verse you could get him to free up and add a few fancy kick hits to key spots in the 2nd verse.

You might skip the 'pre verse' instrumental on the 2nd verse and get straight down to lyric message business (and to the chorus quicker)

Custom make the drum sound to suit the 2nd verse (props to Mike Shipley for that idea)

OK that's my full paint by numbers 2nd verse production manual.

Old 4th February 2009 | Show parent
  #25
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ryst's Avatar
 
🎧 15 years
Check out "One Arm Scissor" from At The Drive In. All 3 verses have a different vibe. Might give you some ideas.
Old 4th February 2009 | Show parent
  #26
Here for the gear
 
🎧 10 years
Quote:
Originally Posted by andychamp ➑️
But my original question relates more to mixing someone else's stuff, when changing the given structure isn't an option.
never mind, didn't see that.
Old 4th February 2009 | Show parent
  #27
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nightchef's Avatar
 
🎧 15 years
One time-honored (and perhaps timeworn) trick is to bring in backup vocals on the second verse, often doing a call-and-response with the lead. It doesn't necessarily have to be vocals, either; you can use an instrumental part to create the same effect. This is really an arranging idea, though, more than a mix idea--unless there's a part like that already laid down for both verses 1 and 2--then you could try muting it for verse 1 (or vice versa).

Another trick is to leave the drums and/or bass out until the first chorus, so that when the 2nd verse comes in, it's the first time you've heard the verse with the full-on groove. As I recall, the Monkees' "Door Into Summer" has an interesting variation on this; they recorded a whole second drum kit, and brought it in on the second verse, panned opposite to the first one.
Old 4th February 2009 | Show parent
  #28
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7 Reviews written
🎧 10 years
Keep the bassline moving and the song will never get boring.
Old 4th February 2009 | Show parent
  #29
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Jules's Avatar
If you are mixing - try to emulate / achieve some of the suggestions above by

muting
delays (to get extra drum beats and vocal double tracking effects)
triggered gating (to get the 16th arpeggios)

Old 4th February 2009
  #30
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theblue1's Avatar
 
🎧 15 years
Quote:
Originally Posted by andychamp ➑️
Supposing everything else before went right, that's the usual scenario:
-intro: grabs your attention, builds some tension, maybe lets you see a bit of the chorus to come.
- 1st verse: sets the mood, pulls you in a bit more, makes you really yearn for that chorus
- chorus: total harmonic and rythmic explosion. This is everything you expected, and more: makes you wanna dance and sing along.

And then there's the dreaded 2nd verse. (And then the 2nd chorus, and then the 3rd verse, and then...)

You can't stay on the same energy level as on the chorus, or you'll have nowhere left to go to, come the 2nd chorus, and you can't just go back to where you were in the 1st verse, because that'd be boring.
Kind of a "Damned if you do it, damned if you dont" situation

I'm aware that there's a lot more involved that just the mix, namely a great arrangement.

So: how do you keep the listener's attention throughout the whole song, from a mixing perspective? There's gotta be more than just pushing faders up and up all the time.
I mix to the arrangement... but if the arrangement itself is missing dynamic flux and excitement, I start arranging 'in the mix' -- ie, working the dynamics, cutting instruments in and out.

Sometimes it makes sense to keep the energy level high in a second verse; sometimes I drop it way down. (And I'll use '2nd verse' here as the first verse after the first chorus, although I often will arrange one of my songs with the equivalent of two verses before the first chorus... all depends, of course.) If I drop way down for the second verse and there is a subsequent solo followed by another verse, I'll sometimes drop the first part of that verse down and then crank it up (by cutting instruments in and out, riding faders, etc) in the second part of the verse in order to ramp up to the final chorus/outro. Although, sometimes, I'll drop the whole final verse way down, all sensitive-like... and then into the chorus.

It really depends on the song and performances.
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