Kim Lajoie's blog

Transition sections that are too long…

by Kim Lajoie on July 22, 2009

If you have a transitional state between two sections that have similar rhythm, pace, tonality, register, texture, etc; it doesn’t take much time to move between them. However, if you try to move between two very different sections, more time will be required (for the same rate of change). The time required to move from one […]

Beginning, middle, end

by Kim Lajoie on July 21, 2009

Normally when we compose a piece of music, we are working on it in a non-linear fashion. That means we can work a little on the start, then work on the end, then maybe add a new section in the middle, whatever. Also, our perception of the piece is non-linear – being so intimately involved […]

Sections of variable length

by Kim Lajoie on July 13, 2009

Often I’ve found that using sections of “metric” lengths (four bars, eight bars, sixteen bars) can often give a piece a very rigid, predictable pace. No matter how exciting or interesting the actual musical material is, sections of metric length can really weigh a piece down. This is because the listener knows (or can guess […]


by Kim Lajoie on June 25, 2009

Buildups often require particular attention when composing. A buildup section is one immediately leading up to a point of high energy.  Commonly this is the climax of the song – the most important part of the song. The buildup is critical because it has to lead up to the climax in a way that maximises […]

What makes structure work?

by Kim Lajoie on May 16, 2009

After experimenting with different approaches to structure, you will begin to vary standard structures and start to think about developing your own approaches to structure. You might start to wonder – what makes structure work? What separates an effective and satisfying structure from an ineffective one? Contour and proportion Contour and proportion are about the […]

Transitions between sections

by Kim Lajoie on May 14, 2009

All this talk of structure revolves around sections – necessarily so, because we’re talking about organising a large block of time, and the most common way of doing this is by subdividing into smaller sections. No matter how you organise your sections, you will still have a skeleton of a song that consists of several […]

Sonata form

by Kim Lajoie on May 12, 2009

Don’t be put off by the fancy name! Sonata form is not just for classical music! It’s actually useful for modern music too – especially if you want to do something a bit more adventurous than typical song form. Basically, sonata form consists of three sections: The start (called the exposition) The middle (called the […]

Transition form

by Kim Lajoie on May 11, 2009

Another interesting approach to structure is to think about transition. This is where the prominant feature of the track is the transition between two quite different sections. A good example of this is “The Sunshine Underground” by the Chemical Brothers, which starts out quite slow, relaxed and sparse. By the end, though, it is fast […]

Song form

by Kim Lajoie on May 9, 2009

One of the most popular structures is song form. Most popular songs follow a basic pattern: verse1-chorus-verse2-chorus-bridge-chorus-chorus This structure works well because there’s a fairly even balance between the familiar and the unfamiliar. Done well, there also a clear contour and direction to the song. The first verse and chorus are unfamiliar the first time […]

Overcoming “loopitis”

by Kim Lajoie on May 8, 2009

It seems that many computer music composers have a problem with developing songs[1]. There is a tendency to create elaborate multilayered loops of two or four or eight bars, but a resistence to being able to put together a whole song. At risk of oversimplification, this is caused by vertical thinking, where a section of music […]