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Rain On Me

by Lady Gaga & Ariana Grande

As much as I generally find it hard to warm to this dense and rather uninspiring slab of disco house, there was one thing I quite liked: the pace variations of the hook lyric. So at 0:31, the verse-ending “rain on me” gives each syllable a duration of three sixteenth notes, whereas the following chorus speeds that up to eighth notes from 0:36, and then slows it down to half notes with Lady Gaga’s spoken rendition at 0:46. We even briefly get a quarter-note version during the Ariana ad lib at 2:02. This idea of making a riff’s note values proportionally longer/shorter has been a standard compositional technique at least since the Renaissance (classical music theorists often call it augmentation/diminution), but I’ve rarely heard it used so actively in a pop production like this. So if you’re looking for a trick to set your own productions apart from the crowd, you should maybe give it a whirl too.