Songs With Silence In Them - An Effective Songwriting Technique Thursday May 19 2022, 7:45 PM
Yona Marie
Singer, Songwriter, Producer.
Songs With Silence In Them - An Effective Songwriting Technique

Songs With Silence 

It may seem like the wrong thing to put into a song, but silence can add flavor, bring emotional depth, add comedy, or encourage further discussion from the fans that are listening to your music.

Most silences in songs are only brief since it wouldn't feel right to add a whole minute of silence in a song, and the person would assume that it has ended.

Some silences are fully quiet, while others still have soft instrumentation that lingers at that moment.

How would silence work well in one of your upcoming releases? I have an upcoming song that I think would fit well with a small silent section towards the end to allow the user to emotionally digest the message in the lyrics.

Check out some of my favorite usages of silence in some popular song releases below.

Related Post: 10 Fun Songwriting Exercises To Try

Bryson Tiller - Don't

So many people talk about the silence breaking toward the song's end, which makes it a great marketing tactic.

It's not so much about the emotional resonance of this song, but it's more about the fact that the silence doesn't seem to last for an even amount of 4 count bars.

Fans of the song like to relate to the fact that they can't ever seem to come back to the lyric "don't" at the right time, making it fun to play over and over to try to catch the phrase. 

Fugazi - Waiting Room

Silence perfectly matches this song's lyrical content, but it adds so much more than that to make it effective.

The energy in this song is high and effective, so you can picture a room of kids having fun dancing and hopping around a dance room, anticipating that moment for them to "wait".

This song plays around with the volume dynamics a lot, jumping from softer sections to loud and dramatic ones in an instant, making it fun to put on repeat.

J Dilla - Stop

J Dilla takes a very simplistic, extremely effective, and memorable approach, with a brief silence in the track right after the lyric "stop" is sung.

This is an example of an underrated songwriting technique called word painting, where the melody or music in a song directly follows what the lyric is suggesting.

For more details on this type of songwriting technique, see my blog post on word painting.

Led Zeppelin - Nobody's Fault But Mine

This song features several silent portions that help intensify the track's overall energy.

It helps to compliment the lyrical intensity of the story, which explains all the repercussions that the central character is dealing with as they realize they've brought it upon themselves.

At the silent or near-silent point, the singer takes a moment to realize that it's truly their own fault in a softer tone than the more intense sections of the song. 

Shudder To Think - Hit Liquor

Here's a track that is pure chaos that is hard not to love.

The dissonant chords, the weird melodies, the strange panning effects, the animated vocals, and the intense guitar riffs make it easy to overlook the great use of silence here in the middle of the song.

It only adds to the wonderfully strange vibe that Shudder To Think nailed here. Don't be afraid to get crazy and weird with your songwriting style; you never know what sort of weirdos will hear it, love it, and become your next biggest fans! 

Four Tops - Bernadette

Many songs feature the fake-out silence at the very end of the track, but this only stands out, particularly because of how the silence highlights the lyrical and emotional delivery from the singer.

The story behind the song details a young man who is seriously eager for a girl's affection and attention and highlights the high notes and intensity in the chorus each time it comes out, where the singer screams out Bernadette's name in a plea for her love.

The silence comes briefly, but after, he is still yelling her name, seemingly over and over, because of how much he wants her. 

Check out my post on 10 fun songwriting exercises to get your ideas flowing.

Tips For Adding Silence To Your Songs

Purposeful Placement

Consider where the silent section would have the most impact in your song.

It could be at a crucial moment in the lyrics, after an intense musical build-up, or as a reflective pause towards the end. Experiment with different placements to find the most emotionally impactful spot.

Duration and Timing

While silence is powerful, it's important to find the right balance. Avoid excessively long periods of silence that might confuse or disengage the listener.

Keep the silence brief yet long enough to create the desired effect. Experiment with different durations to find the sweet spot that complements your song.


Contrast and Dynamics

Use silence to create contrast and emphasize the dynamics of your music.

If your song has sections of high energy and intensity, a brief moment of silence can provide a dramatic contrast, allowing the listener to process and appreciate the preceding musical elements.

Emotional Resonance

Leverage silence to allow the listener to emotionally digest the message conveyed in your lyrics.

A well-placed silent section can create a space for reflection and introspection, allowing the listener to connect more deeply with the meaning and impact of your song.

Strategic Marketing

Just like in the example of Bryson Tiller's song, silence can be used as a marketing tactic. If the silence in your song has a distinctive and memorable element, it can create intrigue and curiosity among your fans.

They may find themselves playing the song repeatedly, trying to catch the phrase, or anticipating the return of the music, leading to increased engagement and buzz around your music.


Yona Marie

As a session singer, writer, and producer that has worked with over 300 clients to provide high-quality jingles, singles, and features, Yona spends her time creating and marketing new music and helpful resources for creators. Check out Yona’s latest releases on her Spotify, her Youtube and share if you like it!

If you are in need of singer, songwriter or song producer services, see what Yona Marie can offer you on her services page.

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