Developing Parts, Simplifying Ideas & Finding The Groove

Working parts for a tune can be one of the most fun and creative processes for a musician. It lets you write, refine, workshop and build songs and hopefully develop your skills for hearing how parts fit together within a tune.

 

So you’ve jammed on an idea and now you’re wanting to make it work throughout the whole song. Let’s start with Figure A as the line we’ve come up with - a mid tempo, straight funk rock groove with a Gm7 type of sound. For the purpose of this example we’ll assume the chord progression stays the same for the whole song - many hits and well known tunes have done so previously so why not for this example too? We could use Figure A as our groove for the verse, but instead let’s save it for the chorus/hook and utilise it as the biggest part of the tune.

 

So what do I play in the verse instead? Well, Figure B takes our idea from Figure A and drops some of the notes and syncopation, keeping the line more on the beat, yet still stating the harmony. This line hints at the full part, yet leaves space for the rest of the instruments. Plenty of songs utilise repetitive elements like this to draw the listener in and create a sense of familiarity - without having listened to the whole song you’ve got some idea of what’s happening and perhaps an idea of where it might be leading.

 

Now we have the verse, so how about a pre-chorus? Figure C builds on Figure B by further intimating the full line and adding some more movement it could also lock in with a developing drum groove with slightly open hats and some extra kick drum. The idea of these slowly building parts is to then climax with Figure A, resulting in a bigger sounding chorus.

 

Remember there’s no one way of doing this and of course there are no hard and fast rules for grooves, songwriting and the like. Furthermore, there will always be exceptions to the rule just as there an unlimited amount of possibilities for song forms. Try parts in different sections too - your first idea might actually be suited to the verse and you can then tweak and build on it for the chorus, or vice versa. The idea is then to not take the above examples completely literally, but apply the ideas to your own tunes.  Have fun, there’s lots of subtle ideas that can be added or taken from an existing part to create other sections, it doesn’t always have to be something completely new.

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