Have you ever heard a song for the first time and been struck by a sense of familiarity? Perhaps it’s because the song reminds you of something else, but what if it’s the song reminding you of… itself! It might sound like an impossible trick, but this is something pop songwriters do all the time, using a songwriting technique called Melodic Preview.
Ninajirachi uses this technique in her productions frequently, so we asked her to explain a little bit more about it
Essentially you recycle parts of the hook – it’s rhythm, parts of it’s melody, or both – and subtly thread them throughout the song including at the beginning, so that by the time the chorus comes around, it sounds like something you’ve heard before.
While the technique might have been pioneered by pop writers, its obviously just as effective in dancefloor focussed electronic music as Nina demonstrates
In this track by X&G, you can hear the dolphin sounds drenched in reverb throughout the build up before they pull forward in the ‘hook’
Following techniques like this can also be a good way of imposing some order on your songwriting, limiting your chances to go too crazy with the arrangement – as Nina points out…
I like to use this technique because it’s very easy, effective and prevents me from convoluting my music with too many incompatible ideas.
Nina demonstrates the technique in her track Stoneteller. At 0:18 we hear a high frequency sound with a barely discernable melody. This sound previews the rhythm of the main hook in the song. At 0:20 we hear a high pitched vocal type sound singing a descending melody, this is a pitched up version of the main hook, disguised in healthy coating of reverb. By the time the main hook drops at 1:05 we are already well acquainted with both the rhythm and the melody of the hook, giving it that familiar feeling.
Its often said that limitation is the key to creativity – narrowing down your options forces you to make creative choices. This is a common thread across almost all fields of creativity, and as Nina shows us here, Songwriting is no different.
Try this technique out next time you’re writing a track and let us know how it goes on our social channels! If you’re interested in learning more songwriting and production techniques, check out our 6 Ways To Take Your Chorus Up A Notch blog for more techniques to help you create big moments in your tracks.