Rapid Fire Composition YKTTW Discussion

Rapid Fire Composition
The musical equivalent of RapidFireComedy
(permanent link) added: 2011-11-09 05:23:55 sponsor: Folamh3 (last reply: 2014-07-15 03:19:37)

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Most songs and tunes are based around a very limited range of musical themes. In a typical pop song, you might have an instrumental riff, a catchy vocal melody in the chorus and an instrumental solo, all of which are based upon one or two chord progressions. Even in songs with more sophisticated, lush arrangements featuring dense arrays of instruments and harmonies, one frequently finds that they are still based upon conventional pop structures and chord progressions. And songs which consist of little more than a single musical idea, with minor variations and developments, repeated over and over again for three or four minutes are by no means uncommon.

But some songwriters try to avert this by having dozens of different musical ideas in the course of a single song. Just as in Rapid-Fire Comedy, when the writers throw ten or twenty jokes at the audience in hopes that some of them will stick, songwriters here endeavour to throw as many musical ideas and themes at the listener as they can, in hopes that the listener will enjoy at least some of them.

When done well, this trope can be extremely effective in creating an atmosphere of disjointed, chaotic confusion and aggression (little wonder this trope is popular amongst the more experimental extreme metal genres). When done poorly, it can result in music that seems directionless & meandering and which sounds functionally indistinguishable from changing the stations on a radio at random.

Obviously, the point at which a song stops being a conventional song and becomes an example of this trope is very difficult to identify and may depend upon one's personal experience with a given musical genre.

Note that, despite what the title might suggest, this title does not simply refer to any music that is fast, nor does it necessarily only include examples of this trope in high-tempo songs. It is entirely possible to find examples of mid-paced or slow songs which employ a vast array of musical ideas.

Essentially the inverse of Three Chords and the Truth. Common in Progressive Rock. Compare Epic Rocking, Genre Roulette and Neoclassical Punk Zydeco Rockabilly, with which this frequently overlaps. See also Mohs Scale of Rock and Metal Hardness (this trope becomes increasingly common the higher up the scale one goes). See also True Art Is Incomprehensible.


  • The Dillinger Escape Plan are one of the most extreme examples of this trope.
  • The Number 12 Looks Like You.
  • Mr. Bungle.
  • The Fiery Furnaces and Cardiacs are definitely both examples of this. An example of the former and the latter.
  • The song "Fingertips" by They Might Be Giants is literally a couple of dozen snippets that a other bands would turn into complete songs, but instead they're stitched together into something rather bizarre.
  • Deathspell Omega have many songs like this.
  • Design the Skyline employ this in some songs.
  • Many Attack Attack! songs make use of this.
  • "The Most Unwanted Song" does this intentionally - survey participants said they hated songs with jarring changes in mood and tone, so the composers, naturally, had several. That along with the entire song being made of random things people didn't like.
  • Some Converge songs sound like this.
  • "Bring The Pain" by Mindless Self Indulgence goes through many variations and styles.
  • Mashup-artist Girl Talk is like this. Rather than just mashing up two or three songs into one, a single track by him might have dozens of songs blended together in a shifting, pounding mix. Each track could almost be divided into five or six "sub-tracks" that blend seamlessly into the next.
  • Songs by Belgian rock band Tom├án are like this. Very dynamic, long songs that change style three or four times without repetition, making it feel like you've gone on some kind of journey.

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