A few years ago, I took a music for film composition weekend-class at UdM; one of the most important things I learnt was the importance of dynamics created by instrument ranges.
Today, I worked on ‘Chameleon’ again, but focused on building more dynamics in the song (between chorus, pre-chorus, verse). During music arrangements, there are moments where you want to fill-in the frequencies, and other moment where you want to leave some empty space. You might have heard the phrase ‘letting it breathe a little’… It means, letting the ear take a break from the music by introducing fewer frequencies, silence and/or quiet(er) moments.
This switch is referred to as ‘dynamics’, and it’s one important aspect to consider if you want music to evoke a variety of emotions throughout a piece. I find that throughout a song if you have the same sound, same instruments ranges, same volume & frequencies, then the song seems one-dimensional and the listeners ear will get ‘used to it’ after a few listens and will not pay closer attention.
On the other hand, having good dynamics in a song will help the ear take a break from the all the frequencies, and then keeping the ear ‘curious’ for change and new elements. You can create a build-up to a chorus to create anticipation, or you can create a drop (suspense)… or quiet moments followed by explosive beginnings to create the effect of surprise.
While creating dynamics it’s important to think of frequencies (different notes, ranger of instruments), rather than only volume. In the picture of this article, you can see that I have notes ranging from the bass (C1) all the way to high synth notes (C7), this is the chorus of the song (of course these are midi notes, so not taking the vocals into account—I will probably try to play the vocal in midi to see what range it falls in).
In other parts of the song, I create a drop in frequencies, for example: keeping bass and voice only OR drum and piano alone, and drop all the other instruments. This creates a nice space for the ear to rest, then I can build up again gently, subsequently adding instruments, OR punch in with a strong debut for the next part (both creating different emotions).