Learn how to improve your songwriting by creating stable and unstable parts in songs. Sometimes the whole tune is unstable but don’t let it happen by chance.
Another way to look at this concept of tension in music to look at whether what you are writing has the effect of making your tune feel stable or unstable. When it feels unstable it needs the tension released.
Again the trick is to build tension and then provide release and do it over and over again in predictable way for the listener. When there tension there’s an unstable feeling created. When the tension is released it feels stable. Not providing enough change also creates tension, i.e. boredom.
It’s like when listeners get back to the chorus and feel, – oh, there’s that part again. Predictability provides stability. It’s good to provide musical surprises but remember there is no place like home for your listener. Let them relax and put their feet up before you take them on next part of their journey.
That is unless you want them to feel tension and unstable. That can be you goal and there’s nothing wrong with that. It can be very effective. But it’s like eating; to have too much of anything doesn’t always feel good.
Music is like good nutrition. In the long run listeners need balanced intake of the musical experience you’re taking them on. Ever listened to a tune or a record and ended up thinking that everything feels too much the same? What did you do? Did you turn it off?
Knowing how to use tension and release will make you a much stronger songwriter. Try thinking about it whenever you listen to what you’ve written. Ask yourself questions about how all the parts of the tune are moving from stable to unstable and back again.
If you ask yourself questions when you reviewing your creation it will make you more aware of what you’re doing in your writing. Listen to your favorite tunes and see if you can spot the points where they are stable or unstable. I have a list of the questions to ask on my Great Songwriting website.
Sometimes you want to take tension to the listener’s edge to shake them up. That’s ok, just remember prolonged anything can feel like torture so usually you should make sure they get home safely to stable pleasant feelings.
Some tunes need to be totally stable but usually you should build stable and unstable parts into your music and song lyrics. Listeners usually don’t know why they love, hate or feel ho-hum about what you’ve written. Your job is t