Song Structure, Foo Fighters, and Parametric Monkey


I produce music under the name Parametric Monkey and a number of my tracks are structured so that the listener is taken to a different place at the end of the track than they were at the beginning. I often do this by introducing melodic interplay between two or more instruments in the front half of a track and then coming back with something different using the same instruments after the break. The goal is to hold and reward the listener’s interest by offering something new.

An argument that is sometimes made against structuring a track like this is that it places too high a demand on the listener’s attention.  On this view a track is best built with a hook that appears early to catch the listener’s attention and is then repeated throughout the track. The goal with this song structure is to make the listener comfortable because they know what to expect before the track ends.

Foo Fighters accomplish both goals on their 2014 track Something From Nothing. Instead of introducing new melody, harmony or rhythm they use increasing intensity to take the listener to a place at the end of the track that is completely different from where the track began. Melodic, harmonic and rhythmic elements remain fairly constant throughout.

Check it out.

And turn it up.

Something From Nothing


Here’s another Foo Fighters song that starts quiet and ends loud but in this one the quiet part is a brief intro that quickly transitions to a high level of intensity that is maintained through the rest of the track.  It’s an older song and it doesn’t really work very well as an example of taking the listener to a new place, but it’s a great video so why not watch it again?

The Pretender

About Kevin Murnane

I am a cognitive scientist, a freelance writer and author (Nutrition for Cyclists: Eating and Drinking Before, During and After the Ride), a musician (Parametric Monkey - stream on Spotify, Soundcloud and YouTube), a bookstore owner (Monkey Books - first edition mystery, science fiction, fantasy and more, listed on ABE books, Amazon and Biblio), and a retired house painter, children's theater actor & owner, and university professor. I'm also a regular contributor to the technology section at Forbes and I write a cycling blog called Tuned In To Cycling. You can follow me on twitter @TheInfoMonkey and contact me at
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