Song Structure, Flow, Composition, Etc.

I’ve always had a problem with composition. I find myself able to come up with a great idea as far as a 32 step sequence goes, or a “melody”, but I’m at a loss when it comes to transitioning into something else, bridging it into another part of the song, or creating tension within a single song.

Someone once told me my songs seem to “drag on while going nowhere”.

Reference -

I’ve listened to many artists and producers on this forum and I must admit, I get a little green when I do. Building tension and using an adequate composition formula seems to be something I just can’t get a grasp on.

Do any of you have formulas you follow for composition or structuring of a song? What would you consider “proper” composition as far as the flow and structure of a song is concerned?

it sometimes help to imagine a story.

you can introduce the tale by setting the mood (intro)
then introduce your main character(s) (introducing ‘what makes the track unique’)
your character goes someplace/does something (introduce whatever)
sudden plot development! tension! suspense! (bridge)
your character goes someplace/does something (you know the drill)
introducing opposing character (introduce second lead/bass/beat)
the ultimate clash of the titans (climax! everything comes together!)
da ind, credits start to roll (outro)

ofcourse this is but a shallow example, but I hope you get the idea…
this is basically how I try to set up most composition, although I often
end up making compromises with the actual ‘flow to the ears/mind’,
because in the end all that matters is: did you enjoy the ride?

One thing I do is layering

I start off with one pattern… I tend to build up layers of beat and melody… so that it all sounds good together then I’ll figure out a way to build up to that full pattern nicely… starting with one or two tracks, adding more on as I go… till the buildup leads to the more climactic pattern that I had in the first place… then, like bantai said, you can create an entirely different pattern using the same effect chains and instruments with different melodies and beats, and work the original master pattern towards the new one to create some progression.

I also like using dropouts, fake endings, etc… listen acts like Nine Inch Nails, System of a Down, Mike Patton’s projects (Fantomas, Mr Bungle, Tomahawk), and Mindless Self Indulgence for ideas… all masters at creating interesting song structure. Alternative rock in general is the area to look for highly structured music.

Is this your myspace page? If so, I’d say one of your big issues is mixing mastering. You need to spend some time figuring out how to make your mixes a bit more defined sounding. You have lots of good beatwork going on… with interesting melodica, however, everything sounds muffled like it’s playing through an old stereo speaker. You need to crispen up the high end, and boost/define the lows. Also, not sure what quality the songs are when you upload them to myspace, but always encode to really high bitrate mp3 before upping there.

… that all being said, keep it up dude… I really enjoy your sense of microrhythm ;)

Thanks for the advice all. I’ll try those approaches as well.


Yes that is my Myspace page and I agree with you 100%. Mixing and Mastering is something I’ve been working on for a long time and I think I finally have a decent combination of what works vs what doesn’t that I’ll be using for newer material. My main issue is exactly what you mentioned, that my songs sound muffled and lo-fi when that was never my intention. Myspace also wrecks bitrate, or they did when I uploaded those songs over a year ago, but only so much of the blame can be placed on that. I’ll admit mix/master has always been a weakness for me, but again, I’ve definitely learned a bit since making those songs… all of which are over a year old. Some 2.

And thanks. I appreciate the compliment and the honest critique. I’m putting my head down and attempting to grind something out this weekend based on all the half-finished ideas I’ve cooked up in the past few months using different approaches to composition and structuring. Hopefully I get a decent result…

I sometimes have the same problem with Renoise, in other programs you can watch the song develop without being confined to patterns.
Sometimes it helps to make the patterns longer so as to fit more variation into each one, and when each pattern finishes, just try to think of which note that key could modulate to next…for example, to take a basic blues chord sequence, a pattern in E, would go to a pattern in A, then to B, back to A, and repeat…that’s already 4 patterns completely different.
If you find that the next pattern seems completely out of key with the previous, i tend not to delete it and scream, but try and find a melody that holds notes within both of them, to help fill the gaps…Melodies can be used to create bridges between any keys.
Dynamics i find though, help define a piece.
Bring down sections by stripping them of elements, or simply making the notes more sticatto. Change the sounds of instruments slightly by adding a subtle phase/chorus/flange to them or dropping some of their frequencies.
Essentially, there is SO MUCH you can do…
Your tunes are good though, you just need to work on making the melodies work with your beats, they sound very separate.