What Is An Interlude In Music? (+ How To Effectively Write One) Wednesday July 20 2022, 1:15 AM
Yona Marie
Singer, Songwriter, Producer.
What Is An Interlude In Music? (+ How To Effectively Write One)

What Is An Interlude In Music?

What really counts as a true interlude when it comes to music? Generally, an interlude is a moment where something occurs between two events in time.

When it comes to songs, an interlude can be a performance that comes between two songs or two distinct musical ideas. The interlude is usually vastly different compared to the songs it is in between, which creates a sense of interruption. 

One thing I've noticed about indie and underground artists and bands (including myself) is that it seems like we're hesitant or not considering interludes much at all! It's a great way to beef up your track list creatively without spending money on too many resources with full tracks.

It's also great for simply showing off some of your small and creative ideas that don't necessarily need to be a full song.

Interludes can be instrumental only, instrumentation along with vocals, or they could not have music at all. You can place a spoken word verse or a skit between two songs, which will still serve as a musical interlude.

A common trait among all interludes is that they are rather short, especially compared to the songs that they come in between. 

Album Interludes

Album interludes are a common thing you'll find on a popular artist or band's project release. In between tracks on the album, you may find small musical ideas or random conversations that give the lister a purposeful break from the flow of the music found in the fully fleshed-out songs. 

You may find interludes at the beginning of an album, which will make it more like an intro to what is coming in the form of a short performance.

You will more often find one or several interludes in the middle of an album that stands out from the rest of the tracks. Some artists like to put an interlude in the form of an album outro that sets the tone for how the overall idea should end for the album. 

Interludes Within A Song 

In some cases, you may find that a song has an interlude within it. This is not to be confused with a bridge, which often serves as a climax in a song and brings new musical ideas that stand out apart from the verses and the chorus.

When an interlude is in one song, you will likely hear two distinct musical ideas within the song that could be seen as two different songs but sharing the same track. Many artists elect to do this with album tracks that extend beyond the usual 3-4 minute song. 

Interludes In Plays Vs. In Music

In dramatic stage performances, interludes serve as the small sections that include spoken word or music between acts.

Some also like to interchange the terms interlude and intermission to signify the point in a production where people can take a 5-20 minute break to get food, stretch their legs, chat, or use the restroom. 

Wedding Interludes

For wedding music, interludes aren't just one performance but a series of songs played or performed while no one is speaking at the function and no current presentation is happening.

The interlude music serves more as background music for the guests to enjoy while they mingle during the happy hour, between events in the order of service, or during the reception downtime. 

Standout Interludes In Pop Culture 

There are so many great interludes out there that it's nearly impossible to highlight a couple of the best ones, but I'll try. Many performers don't even get fancy with the names of the performances and just call them "Interlude".

Some artists/bands like Kool Moe Dee and Jamie Cullum have even dropped albums under the name "Interlude" to signify where they were in their current musical journeys. 

Kendrick Lemar's "For Free" interlude found on his critically acclaimed album "To Pimp A Butterfly" is one of the first things to pop into my mind.

He takes a break from his hip hop/neo soul beats paired with his smooth and somewhat slow rap flows to introduce a spoken word poem backed by fast-paced jazz instrumentation beats that pair well with a sexual, political, and even biblical rant about what is owed to him. 

Another one of my favorite interlude examples is Radiohead's haunting "Fitter Happier" featured on the epic "OK Computer" project released in 1997.

This track gives off a sinister and dystopian vibe by having a text-to-speech robot reciting the lyrics while a solemn and distorted piano track plays in the background. 

Interlude Songwriting Tips 

Disrupt The Flow

One thing you can always try when creating your interlude is to make sure that people understand they're listening to one by disrupting the flow of your previous and next track.

You want your interlude(s) to stand out among the full song and grab the listener's attention by sounding like a whole new idea that almost doesn't fit. 

Tell A Story

Great interludes tell their own story or add to the overall message that is being given throughout the entire album.

You don't even need to have lyrics or singing in order to tell a story. Instrumentation and melodic lines found in the backing tracks can often do more than you think when constructed well! 

Keep It Short

Interludes can be as long as you want, but the most effective ones are much shorter than regular-length songs. Most of these tracks last for about one to two minutes, introducing a new idea briefly and often cutting the track short and abruptly.

Think Outside The Box

To make your interlude memorable, you want to go outside your normal songwriting habits. Experiment with different ideas for your melody, instrumentation, lyrics, and vocal delivery when trying to come up with your interlude. Don't be afraid of trying out unique vocal and beat effects to get your point across! 

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Yona Marie

As a session singer, writer, and producer that has worked with over 200 clients to provide high-quality jingles, singles, features, nursery rhymes, and DJ drops, she currently spends her time engulfed in creating and marketing new music and helpful resources for creators. Her most recent creative collaborations include work with PBS Sound Field, Tribe of Noise, and the National Black Chamber of Commerce. Check out Yona’s latest music releases on her Spotify, her Youtube and share the music if you like it!

If you are ever in need of singer, songwriter or song producer services for your music project or brand, see what Yona Marie can offer you on her song services page. As an Amazon Associate, Yona Marie earns from qualifying purchases. Amazon and other affiliate products are recommended to genuinely help readers and keep this site up and running as well.

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