How to Harp on Listeners’ Emotions Using Longer Note Lengths

Have you ever noticed that the songs which appeal to you on an emotional level usually have parts that have longer notes? Maybe it’s the chorus or a recurring set of words throughout the song that are vocalized slower than the rest of the composition, but produces a harmonious tone that resonates with your emotional senses.

Have you ever noticed that the songs which appeal to you on an emotional level usually have parts that have longer notes? Maybe it’s the chorus or a recurring set of words throughout the song that are vocalized slower than the rest of the composition, but produces a harmonious tone that resonates with your emotional senses.

Common examples in popular music include ballads such as “Always Be My Baby” by Mariah Carey and “Shape of My Heart” by Backstreet Boys, as well as rap classics like “Not Afraid” by Eminem, who lengthens the notes in the chorus to really engage listeners (he actually does this in several of his songs).

You too can also become good at creating lyrics that are emotionally intense. Here are a few tips as to how you can do this.

Use Words That Naturally Evoke an Emotional Response

Certain words appeal to people’s emotions more readily than others and if used well in your songs, lengthening them will possibly hold the audience’s attention more than if they were performed quickly. Examples include ‘baby,’ ‘love,’ ‘beautiful,’ ‘lonely,’ ‘boy/man’ and ‘woman/girl(s),’ but there are many others.

Stress Lengthened Notes with Backing Harmonies

In addition to influencing listeners to pay attention to the words of the song, backing vocal harmonies also provide enhanced emotional connection. That’s one reason why some songs are classified as tearjerkers. Plus, the harmony of several voices adds to the listening pleasure of a song, even without instruments.

Lengthen Chorus/Hook Notes

As in the Eminem example provided earlier, lengthening the notes of the chorus or hook makes the words more memorable and helps to provide an emotional bond with the audience. However, it has to be subtle; go too dramatic and you risk losing the listener.

Vary the Bridge

The bridge of a song can be made more emotionally interesting by varying the notes. In Toni Braxton’s “Spanish Guitar,” the bridge is an exciting mix of Spanish speech and her singing in notes of varied lengths, which helps to heighten the emotional state of the audience.

Engaging your audience will help to make your songs more meaningful. Note lengthening is a technique that has been used in many genres throughout time and can help you accomplish this if done correctly.

The SongCat Team
About the Author
The SongCat Team

We believe in supporting artists of all levels of their musical journey, from the 40-year music business veteran, to the burgeoning songwriter who are looking to polish their craft. We also believe that creating professional, high quality, and expertly mixed recordings shouldn’t be limited to high budget record deals.

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