Thursday, December 3, 2009

Simple Chorus - In This Lake With You

One of the keys to constructing an impressive and memorable song is a simple chorus.

There are a great many ways to approach song construction for an improvised song - and very few rules at all. You don't have to rhyme, you don't need a chorus or a bridge, strictly speaking you don't even have to sing. But most of the time, you're creating something that will resonate with the audience and meet their expectations of what a song should be.

Popular songs are generally verse-chorus based, with a well defined structure for both. Those songs have the luxury of growing on you after a few listens. The trick with an improvised song is to get that catchy hook right away, that riff that the audience thinks they've heard before somewhere.

The key for me is to find a memorable chorus - a simple memorable chorus. I've seen lots of improvised songs with complex choruses that continue the story; sometimes they work, sometimes not. But an improvised song with a simple chorus works pretty much every time.

What does it take to put a simple chorus together? One way is to just use the title of the song - nothing else, just the title. Some relevant examples of improvised songs that previously appeared on Musical Hotspot are Soap Gets In Your Eyes and Don't Call Me Jack, Mon.

It's really easy to take that structure, and shake it up a teeny tiny bit with some simple rhyming. Repeat the title or a phrase on the first, second and fourth lines of a chorus, and rhyme with it on the third line. This AABA form is easy to master, and it results in really catchy choruses.

In This Lake With You

The example this week is from a rehearsal of One Bride for Seven Brothers. This is one of those alternate-reality stories, not the story the audience saw on the night. In this version, Nancy Buttons (Amy Currie) is an adventurer, an Amelia Earhart type, who is looking for a scientific solution to her town's long drought. She travels to the brothers' town, where it has rained non-stop for years, in the hope she can discover the source of the rain. Golly (Tristan Ham), the youngest brother, has been collecting rainwater and making a lake of his own. After realising Nancy shares his love of water, he and Nancy take a trip to the lake, where they start to fall in love.

In the song In This Lake With You, Amy sets up a great (simple!) chorus:
I'm in this lake with you
I'm in this lake with you
My dreams have all come true
For I'm in this lake with you

It's simple to pick up, simple enough that Amy and Tristan can trade chorus duties on the first chorus. That makes for a really effective duet.

Photo by freefotouk

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