Created By: Sen on July 22, 2011 Last Edited By: Sen on September 14, 2011

Quiet Verse Loud Chorus

In a song, save the loud guitars for the chorus.

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Do We Have This? Alternate titles: Quiet Loud Quiet, The Pixies Dynamic.

One of the most widespread ways to structure a song, especially in rock music: create a contrast by having the verses be restrained and the chorus be much louder/harsher.

This sort of thing is pretty old, seen as far back as 1969 with Led Zeppelin's "What Is and What Should Never Be" and "Ramble On", but nowadays it tends to be stereotypically associated with Alternative Rock, mostly because of The Pixies and Nirvana. The Pixies were one of the first alt-rock bands to become famous for using the technique (to the point that a documentary about them was named loudQUIETloud). Nirvana were very influenced by the Pixies and used the formula for famous singles such as "Smells Like Teen Spirit", which led to Follow the Leader once Post-Grunge got rolling.

The effect of the technique is considerably blunted if the song also suffers from Record of Loudness War.

Not to be confused with Subdued Section, which is about when most of the instruments are dropped out to leave only the vocals and one or two instruments, although really extreme examples of the dynamic might overlap with that trope (PJ Harvey's "Rid of Me").


Straight examples
  • Too many Alternative Rock and Post-Grunge songs to list.
  • Led Zeppelin's "What Is and What Should Never Be" and "Ramble On", among others.
    • Even Zeppelin's albums tend to fit this idea, with quiet folksy songs sitting next to balls-out rockers.
  • The Pixies.
  • As stated above, Nirvana. Kurt Cobain's discovery of The Pixies played an important part, but Dave Grohl also explained that their use of the trope came from four months of jamming before the recording of Nevermind, where they would experiment with extreme dynamics.
  • "Tokkoro ga Dokkoi! Sexy Musume" from Devil Hunter Yohko.
  • Many Radiohead songs, mostly on Pablo Honey and The Bends. They started really moving away from that formula with OK Computer.
  • Basically every Linkin Park song.
  • Nine Inch Nails occasionally do this straight, like with a lot of the Pretty Hate Machine ("Head Like a Hole", although other tracks use loud synths instead, such as "Terrible Lie") and Broken. On the other hand, Trent Reznor sometimes dicks with the formula and puts the extreme dynamics where it's unexpected (how "Mr. Self Destruct" and "March of the Pigs" suddenly calm down to quiet, piano-driven bridges before resuming the Industrial Metal mayhem).
  • A few too many power ballads tend to use this formula, starting slowly with the verses only to unleash the powerchording and ramp up the dramatics in the chorus. For example, Def Leppard's "Love Bites".
  • Styx's "Renegade".
  • Emilie Autumn's "Opheliac".
  • Lampshaded by Radio Free Vestibule in "The Grunge Song".
This is the part of the song that's really quiet
we play very soft, it sounds like a ballad
and we go back to the quiet part again

  • Metallica's "The Unforgiven" was intentionally written as a reversal of this: Lars Ulrich noted that their previous ballad-type songs "Fade to Black", "Welcome Home (Sanitarium)" and "One" used the formula, so "The Unforgiven" was created with loud, distorted verses and a quieter, melodic chorus.
Community Feedback Replies: 15
  • July 22, 2011
    "Smells Like Teen Spirit" by Nirvana.
  • July 22, 2011
    Would the song "Tokkoro ga Dokkoi! Sexy Musume" from Devil Hunter Yohko count? It at least alternates between softer and louder parts and the louder parts seem to have more similar lyrics to each other so it's probably the chorus.
  • July 23, 2011
    Actually, that was what I was gonna ask. This is a pretty widespread thing, and I was afraid it'd fall prey to People Sit On Chairs. Should we list examples, or just aversions/variations? Like Metallica's "Unforgiven"?
  • July 24, 2011
    Okay, I've added some examples so far, but I'm very not sure about adding more in case this becomes People Sit On Chairs.
  • July 24, 2011
    • "Creep" by Radiohead. A lot of their songs, actually.

    Also, I don't think it is People Sit In Chairs becaue I remember once reading a whole article about how Radiohead and the like echoed some early 80s new wave acts with this formula. I think it is called soft-loud-soft. correction: loud-soft-loud
  • July 24, 2011
  • July 25, 2011
    Okay, I've added those examples. Thank you very much! Not too sure about the New Wave bands though.
  • July 25, 2011
    Note that this isn't just because artists tend to sing the verses solo, with their backup singers chiming in only during the chorus.
  • July 25, 2011
    Naaah, that'd be like Tina Turner wheeling in the kids choir for the chorus of "We Don't Need Another Hero".

    Oh, wait!
  • July 25, 2011
  • July 25, 2011
    No prob ^^^^ I am having trouble remembering the 80s band examples the article used in the Radiohead story. I can't even find the story again. Point was that it is a "thing" that rock critics write about.
  • July 25, 2011
    Isn't this Subdued Section?

    EDIT: There's a slight distinction, but I think they're related enough to mention in the description.
  • July 26, 2011
    Nah, I don't think there's a lot of overlap between the two.
  • July 29, 2011
    YKTTW Bump. I can't think of any more examples right now...
  • September 14, 2011
    How close is this to launchable?