Get into the Groove: Base a song or musical idea on a groove or ostinato.

A groove or ostinato can be a rhythmic pattern, a bass line, a chord progression, or all those things put together.  Check out these detailed definitions on Wikipedia for more info on groove and ostinato.


How to Respond

Let rhythm and repetition be the driving force and inspiration for an original song or musical idea. Post your work below using SoundCloud or video. Don’t worry if your song is short, this is just an exercise!


Tips

  • Using an ostinato or groove without a break can create tension. How can you use tension to create a moment of “arrival” in your song?  How does that moment relate to your lyrics?
  • Is there a way to make your song go from “stable” to “unstable” by varying the groove?

  • What rhythmic elements can you incorporate to make a repeated chord progression sound different?
  • How can you use repetition in your melody to create a song structure?

  • If you get stuck, try tapping out a rhythm, then use that rhythm on one note to create a groove.

Examples


Collaborate

  • Try to figure out another songwriter’s ostinato by ear and try writing your own melody over it.

 Click here for more Songwriting Exchange activities.

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Tags: exchange, groove, ostinato, songs, songwriting

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Comment by Erica Lashley on June 5, 2014 at 9:40am

Thank so much, Deidre! and YES let's keep up this days of the week thing! Who's got Wednesday?

Comment by Deidre Rodman Struck on June 4, 2014 at 10:49pm

Sarah Boulton, I was drawn in right away to your song. The piano is very haunting. The song reminded me of "My Immortal" by Evanescence. Check it out below, how the song builds and builds. I think there is real potential for that kind of thing in your song--keep going with it!

Comment by Deidre Rodman Struck on June 4, 2014 at 10:40pm

Kaloni Baylor I like the line "today I just might win"--I've definitely had days in NYC where I felt like the score was NYC: 1, Deidre: 0. Could you post the whole set of lyrics?

Comment by Deidre Rodman Struck on June 4, 2014 at 10:37pm

Janet Noh, what a cool chord progression! Who are your influences? Have you seen or heard about the musical Title of Show?

Comment by Deidre Rodman Struck on June 4, 2014 at 10:36pm

Erica Lashley this is a super pretty song. I can hear the Iron and Wine influence. I like that songwriters, ALL of us, get to borrow ideas from each other. You took their idea but used it as a jumping off point and totally made it your own. Also, someone else wrote a Tuesday song, and here is Monday's, so my dream of a "week" MX catalog is coming true! This one is so easy on the ears. And I mean that in a good way.

Comment by Erica Lashley on June 4, 2014 at 9:24pm
Comment by Erica Lashley on June 4, 2014 at 9:24pm

I wrote this song based off of the descending bassline in the chorus - I realized afterward that a similar bassline is in an iron and wine song, but I tried to go somewhere different with this one. I couldn't come up with a title, but luckily soundcloud named it "audio recording on monday evening" for me (my monday evening blues from the what's in a title activity was inspired by soundcloud's choice of title for this song).

I know but I can't say the things I take are always in my way

and you would make me smile and force myself to stop and stay awhile

and I'd say please, please don't leave me

and please, please don't hate me 

and please, please, please stay with me tonight

I've learned a thing or two about me wanting more and more of you

I watched myself begin to trust too much but now I've found myself all out of luck

cuz I'd say please, please don't leave me

and please, please don't hate me 

and please, please, please stay with me tonight

cuz history keeps repeating

as sympathy keeps receding

and my torn apart heart keeps beating to say that I'm ok

so please, please don't leave me

and please, please don't hate me 

and please, please, please stay with me tonight

 

Comment by Janet Noh on June 4, 2014 at 3:23am

https://soundcloud.com/janet-noh/my-pride

My Pride

They say the world’s a stage, and the actors are us
Writing the script as we go
And on every page of this story I was
The undisputed queen of the world

Didn’t matter what mistake I made
“Sorry” never came to my lips
I suppressed the things I meant to say
And said some things that I just want to forget

Pre-chorus 1:
The years fly by, my head’s still high, 
When it hurts I’ll make sure I don’t cry
But it isolates and complicates
My desire to communicate
So I’ve resolved to tear down these walls
And so now

Chorus:
I’m giving up my pride, my pride, my pride
I’m giving up my pride
For you

‘Cause all that’s dead inside, inside, inside
All that comes to life 
By you

The brand new person I’ll be and the things I’ll do
Will show humility I used to lack
This fourth wall I see, I’m going to break right through
And stop this little phony act

Won’t be afraid to fail, won’t try to save face
Assume everyone’s out to judge
‘Cause I trust you won’t bail and I trust your grace
Beyond that I can’t ask for much

Pre-chorus 2:
Oh the years flew by, my head was high, 
When it hurt I couldn’t cry, oh my pride 
It isolates and complicates
My desire to communicate
So I resolved to tear down these walls 
Because now

Chorus:
I’m giving up my pride, my pride, my pride
I’m giving up my pride
For you

‘Cause all that’s dead inside, inside, inside
All that comes to life 
By you

I started with a groove and rhythm with more of a secular pop sensibility in mind, but somehow it turned into a song that I could hear gospel choir vocals provide back-up to! Also, disclaimer: please excuse the lapses in recording quality (like sometimes the rhythm might seem a bit off) and the not-so-great vocals. Recorded reaallllly late (like 3AM late) so my voice is not the most controlled. ;) 

But excuses aside! In any case, so happy to be doing this and to be amongst so much talent in this community!! Thank you for being so awesome and allowing me to learn so much from you guys!

Comment by Janet Noh on June 4, 2014 at 2:42am

@Madison Marie Marino - like Sarah Boulton said below, I love how you've arranged your words to fit with the music a certain cadence and rhythm. Really clever! I feel like your lyrics are the kind that really come alive when set to music. I also love love your chorus, it is so darned cute and is going to be great having in my head as I go to sleep hopefully very shortly :). I also re-listened to the rhythm of "how passionately i would love / even though he still doesn't know of / this" - because i love how the words fall right in step with the music here!

Perhaps the only point I would make is that the area around "existence" seems rushed. If you just take a nano-second to add emphasis to the first syllable, I think that might help. But since you say the preceding lyrics "like I have no" with equal emphasis before it, there's not really much room to change the way you say "existence." So then I would suggest giving that verse a little swing "LIKE i HAVE no Ex-istence to HIM" (with slight emphasis on the ALL CAP words)

Hope this makes sense! If not, let me know and I can clarify better. Or, take it or leave it! You have a cool song here! - Janet

Comment by Kaloni Baylor on June 3, 2014 at 7:15pm

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