Crescendo – Building Up Tension

How to make your hooks explode!

Sometimes, no matter how great your hook or chorus sounds, you just can’t seem to make it blast out of your speakers when you play it after your verse, climb or build-up. The obvious way of trying to solve this is by making the hook heavier (putting more bass and a stronger crash sound at the beginning). But you might be focusing your attention on the wrong thing: you are probably in need of more tension before the hook!

How do you create the perfect build-up before the hook?

After struggling with this myself, I discovered that the explosiveness of the hook depends, not only on the quality of the drum sounds you use, but also very largely on the amount of tension before the hook. One (very strong) way of increasing the tension is using a 'Crescendo' (translated as 'growing' in Italian).

What is meant by a crescendo in music theory is a build up from low volume to loud volume. In classical orchestras this effect is usually achieved by adding more and more instruments to play a part during a short amount of time or small part of a song.

For example, it can start with a single violin then a second later 2 more string players join in, a second later a percussionist join and shortly after you have 30 musical instruments playing the same note at the same time.  

You can achieve a similar tension building effect by reversing crash, gong or exhaling sounds.