Production, Songwriting

Mind The Gap

The gap is full of danger, right? But it’s also full of excitement…

There’s something about a gap – in the pavement, as you’re stepping onto a train or an escalator, between buildings (unless you’re Spiderman) – that causes us some measure of anticipation, or excitement, or anxiety. It’s the spot where the momentum stops, where the regular becomes interrupted.

It can be really exciting to add a gap, or a “stop”, to a song arrangement. The song is chugging along, then suddenly all the players stop playing, and we have only the absence of the music for a moment, before they all begin playing again. It’s a dramatic moment.

Enough Already

But can we have too much of a good thing? Like I said, the gap is a sudden moment of drama, but if I do it again, and then again later, it loses some of that drama each time. What’s more, each gap is an interruption in the flow, in the momentum of the song, and too many interruptions will undeniably stunt the enjoyment of the song.

Chocolate cake is a good thing, but after four pieces, I wish I’d never started…

Push The Envelope

So do I keep it to only one stop? Not necessarily. If you want equal, or growing excitement with each stop, do what you can to increase the drama while keeping a watchful eye out for taking things too far.

  • Make your second stop longer than your first stop. This way, the re-start after the second stop is unexpected. You could even have a third, even longer, stop, but I suspect there’s no way you could add a fourth stop without it losing interest. (Challenge…)
  • Make your second stop more dramatic by making it bigger in every way – more buildup, and more energy on the restart.
  • Let one instrument or vocal continue through the stop, even if it’s to take a noisy breath. Give me something to focus on.
  • Have the song come back in with a key modulation after a stop

I love a good gap. And if you can put a few in a song without making me tired, I definitely want to hear it!

(Photo Credit: Alex Radelich,

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