Power positions

Are there certain places in a song that are more powerful than others? If we could identify them, we could pay particular attention to them, to make sure our song delivers its message in the strongest possible way.

Once you find your song’s power positions, you can take steps to make both the lyric and the music at those spots even more effective.

There are power positions in most songs. In a funny song that’s where you would put the punch line. Obviously, in this case that would be at or near the end.

Sometimes in a song, a singer has a ‘money’ line, perhaps it has a dramatic pause, a high note or a long, sustained note or all three. A good singer knows this is an important line to get right as a performer. It’s like that for songwriters, too. Those ‘money’ lines are the power spots.

Listen to your song to find out where the power positions are and use them to best advantage.

One common mistake to avoid is a weak line (either lyrically or melodically weak) in a power spot. Of course we want all our lines to be strong and meaningful, but there will always be some lines that are more powerful than others. To use the joke analogy again, some lines set up the joke, others pay it off. The power position is where you pay it off, whether it’s a joke, a story or a concept.

Here are some typical power positions. The last line of each verse can be a power spot. Usually the entire chorus is more of a power position than a verse, not only because it gets repeated. So there’s another clue: sometimes a section that gets repeated is a power position.

Often the first and last lines of the chorus are power positions. You can use the beginning of your chorus to set up a powerful final line. The bridge can also be a power position. The location of the power positions depends on the song.

Power doesn’t always mean high volume. Sure, if your song builds to a climax, that would be a powerful (probably the most powerful) part of your song. But also, think of a whisper. When someone is speaking at normal volume and then they start whispering, the listener leans in and pays more attention. So a low volume spot in your song can also be a power position.

Listen to your song to find out where the power positions are and use them to best advantage.

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