Radiohead’s iconic song “Creep” repeats the same chord pattern (G Bmaj Cmaj Cmin) throughout the whole song. Yet the song doesn’t sound boring. How exactly did they make the song that exciting without from its progression?
First off let’s look at the verses: they have longest lines. Structurally this means more information and notes can fit in each line. However it also means there’s less room in each breath for pauses or held notes at the end of each verse.
“When you were here before
couldn’t look you in the eyes
your just like an angel
your skin makes me cry”
Then in the chorus Thom shortens the line lengths. This gives him the opportunity him to hold out some of the lines. However it also lessons the information that can be delivered. Here it’s the emphasis on “I’m a creep” that is essential to the song.
“I’m a creep (notice the vocal space) Bmaj
I’m a weirdo [hold note]
what the hell am I doing here?
I don’t belong here.” (notice the space)
And finally: during the bridge the lines are very short. However, this allows Thom Yorke
showoff his range and let his vocals ring.
running out again
she’s running out
she runs, runs, runs” (high note into the guitar solo section)
Even though the chord sequence is static, the way the song is dressed causes each section to be easily identifiable. So the range and metrical lines define each section of the song he utilizes. The verse has the lowest range, the chorus is his middle range, and the bridge pushes his iconic falsetto.
Today write a song that uses the same chords throughout. Play around with your range and your line length to create easily identifiable sections. Look for ways you can use your knowledge and songwriting to create meaningful compositions.
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