If you’re looking to achieve a big emotional response from your listener, one way is to create a simple hook and then repeat it over and over again. With each incidence, you can layer more and more instruments and effects until there is literally no frequency unused. Go on long enough and the whole effect becomes trance-like.
Some say the first example of this technique in pop music was Donovan’s Atlantis. This won’t be familiar to many of you but I remember it well. The same chord sequence is repeated throughout the whole track, first accompanied by a spoken narration then, at 1.5 minutes, the chorus comes in:
Much more familiar is the Beatles’ use of this technique. First came All You Need is Love but it’s the chorus of Hey Jude that you’re more likely to hear ringing from the football terraces:
The Beatles did something similar with I Want You (She’s So Heavy), but this time it’s a guitar riff that’s repeated. The pressure builds and builds for three whole minutes.
The same idea can be found in folk music. Here’s an example from Irish band Lankum. This chorus just has me in pieces. Here are the words in case you want to sing along:
When the young people dance
They do not dance forever
It is written in sand
With the softest of feathers
It is not writ in stone
Like the walls of the chapel
And soon it is gone
Like the soft winter’s apple
I can’t resist another folk example, this time from The Unthanks. Again, you might want to sing along. This is the album version with an extended instrumental section in the middle:
I’ll mount the air on swallows wings
To find my dearest dear
And if I lose my labour
And cannot find him there
I quickly will become a fish to search the roaring sea
I love my love
Because I know my lover
He loves me
I’m going to end with one more example, this from American indie band Granddaddy. This is He’s Simple, He’s Dumb, He’s the Pilot:
As you’ve probably gathered, I’m a succour for the big chorus. And if I am, that means there’s a lot more out there who think the same.