Building anticipation: Pre-chorus explained

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As a musician, one of the most exciting and rewarding aspects of songwriting is building anticipation within the listener. A well-crafted pre-chorus is one of the most effective ways to achieve this, creating a sense of momentum and tension that propels the listener towards the release of the chorus.

So, what exactly is a pre-chorus? Essentially, it's a bridge between the verse and the chorus that serves to build momentum and anticipation for the upcoming chorus. Pre-choruses typically feature a different melody or chord progression to the verse and chorus, providing a point of contrast that heightens the sense of anticipation.

One of the most important elements of a successful pre-chorus is lyrical content. The pre-chorus should provide a hint of what's to come in the chorus, while also leaving the listener wanting more. This can be achieved through the use of clever, evocative lyrics that hint at the emotional climax of the song.

Musically, pre-choruses can take many forms. Some pre-choruses feature a simple, repeated chord progression that builds in intensity as the pre-chorus progresses, while others use intricate chord progressions and melody lines to create a sense of complexity and tension.

Regardless of the musical approach, the most effective pre-choruses are those that manage to capture the essence of the song and provide a sense of anticipation that drives the listener towards the chorus.

Now it's time to break down some examples of pre-choruses that achieve this sense of anticipation and tension in different ways.

In Katy Perry's hit song "Roar," the pre-chorus features a simple, repeated chord progression that builds in intensity as the pre-chorus progresses. The lyrics, "I got the eye of the tiger, a fighter, dancing through the fire / Cause I am a champion and you're gonna hear me roar," provide a hint of the emotional climax to come in the chorus and leave the listener wanting more.

On the other hand, in Taylor Swift's "Blank Space," the pre-chorus uses a complex chord progression and melody line to create a sense of complexity and tension. The lyrics, "So it's gonna be forever / Or it's gonna go down in flames," provide a sense of the high stakes involved in the relationship described in the song.

In Ariana Grande's "Thank U, Next," the pre-chorus adds a layer of complexity to the song's already intricate chord progression and melody. The lyrics, "One taught me love, one taught me patience, and one taught me pain / Now, I'm so amazing," provide a sense of resolution to the song's exploration of past relationships, while also leaving the listener wanting more.

Ultimately, the pre-chorus is an essential element of any successful song, serving to build anticipation and momentum towards the emotional release of the chorus. Whether through simple chord progressions, intricate melodies, or evocative lyrics, a well-crafted pre-chorus can make the difference between a good song and a great one.