Kim Lajoie's blog

Practice (and perform) your parts – don’t just sequence them

by Kim Lajoie on March 9, 2012

This post is a sequel to this post:¬†Automation and expression. It’s pretty easy to sequence. You’ve got a computer chock-full of samplers, romplers, synths, loops and other sound sources. You start every project with an empty timeline that’s as inviting as a swimming pool on a hot still day or an untouched carpet of autumn […]

Proportion and variety

by Kim Lajoie on October 17, 2011

It’s a funny word, but it’s critically important. Proportion in music best understood as the relationship between the amount of musical material in a song and the length of time that the song goes for. By ‘musical material’, I’m referring to the unique ideas – not counting repeats or slight variations. Another way of thinking […]

Don’t build a structure by just muting/unmuting parts

by Kim Lajoie on August 15, 2011

It’s pretty tempting. You’ve spent days developing your utterly brilliant eight-bar loop.It sounds full and thick. All your EQs and compressors are perfectly set. It almost makes you want to get up and dance. But it’s only sixteen seconds long. And you didn’t want to make a sixteen second song. You want to stretch it […]

How long should your song be?

by Kim Lajoie on March 7, 2011

This is a deceptively simple question. Will some of you will answer “3:30” without hesitation? Do you even have a standard length that you aim for? Nothing wrong with having a standard length, by the way. Some genres call for it. Hard to have a club hit that’s 2:30 (unless you have an extended version […]

Preproduction: Tightening structure

by Kim Lajoie on November 22, 2010

Another important aspect to consider in preproduction is the structure of the song. For vocal songs, this is often addressed when working on the lyrics. Sometimes this is enough, sometimes it isn’t. Approaching structure ¬†separately is often necessary when there is a strong instrumental component to the song. This includes vocal songs that have distinctive […]

Five ways to build energy

by Kim Lajoie on August 30, 2010

Buildups are important in many styles of music. Essentially, buildups are transition sections that gradually change from low energy to high energy. They’re often useful for creating anticipation leading into a high energy section. There are many ways of making this transition from low energy to high energy, although it’s easy to always resort to […]


by Kim Lajoie on July 19, 2010

Contour is the overall ‘shape’ of a song. While structure refers to the order and length of sections within the song, contour refers to how those sections relate, how they react to each other, and how they flow. Contour ¬†includes the rises and falls in energy level, the establishment and return to main themes, and […]

Development and momentum

by Kim Lajoie on July 12, 2010

Development and momentum are two concepts in composition and production. They make longer term structure effective. They are the difference between a collection of sections in a logical order and a complete unified song that tells a coherent story. Development A song having a sense of development means that the listener hears the song grow […]

Nested Structures

by Kim Lajoie on July 23, 2009

Nested structures are quite simple to understand, but can add new levels of order and structure to your music. If we start with two basic structures: Binary: A B Ternary: A B A Nested structures refers to the idea that each of the structure “elements” (A, B, whatever) can actually be (or have) a whole […]