Art of Music #3- Build up / Break down

Music tells its story over time. Artists can send their listeners on a journey through build ups and break downs. Some songs start soft and slow and build in intensity throughout the composition. Others start with a bang and power thru until a middle section where they get soft and rebuild to the finale. There are even great songs without much in the way of building up or breaking down.

“Somewhere Over The Rainbow” by Israel Kamakawiwo’ole is a great example of a song without much change in the underlying structure of the composition. The ukulele keeps its rhythm in the background and Israel sings sweetly and powerfully over the top without the need for more instrumentation or changing the feel.

“Cold” by Winterbourne starts soft and pensive and later builds into something heavy. They keep layering on sounds and building it up. Its a really powerful way to take the listener along for a ride.

“Try Honesty” by Billy Talent has two different drum feels that go back and forth often. It gets your head bobbing then changes to feel twice as fast. It can be disconcerting or exciting, depending on your music preferences.

“Holy Wars… Punishment Due” by Megadeth has so many changes to the song from the intro to the verses, guitar solos, etc. Theres an intermission at about 2 minutes and they play some haunting middle eastern melodies. From there it is mostly a build to the masterfully heavy ending. I’m always hanging on until the final drum hit.

The varied approaches to creating relaxing or exciting song styles is a big part of how listeners “feel” music. I think that it is often overlooked in musical education. Something simple played with building intensity can be more effective than a technically challenging piece played too evenly. We are humans, not musical robots! Keep your ears open.