Shopping Cart -

Your cart is currently empty.
Continue Shopping
This website use cookies and similar technologies to improve the site and to provide customised content and advertising. By using this site, you agree to this use. To learn more, including how to change your cookie settings, please view our Cookie Policy
Pocketmags Digital Magazines
Pocketmags Digital Magazines
   You are currently viewing the United Kingdom version of the site.
Would you like to switch to your local site?
Digital Subscriptions > MusicTech > Ableton Live 10 > PROSODY IN TECHNOLOGY


Prosody is a term we use to define the uniting of the sonic and lyrical elements of a track. To demonstrate, Erin Barra deconsructs one of her compositions…



Prosody’ is a word I use a lot. Its meaning was taught to me roughly 15 years ago by Berklee professor Pat Pattison and in some ways, it’s become the foundation for what I consider to be art – or at least the kind I’m interested in.

In the words of Pat: “Aristotle said that every great work of art contains the same feature – unity. Everything in the work belongs – works to support every other element. Another word for unity is prosody, which means the ‘appropriate relationship between elements, whatever they may be’”. Some examples of prosody in songs might be: prosody between words and music – a minor key could create a feeling of sadness to support or even create sadness in an idea. Prosody between syllables and notes – an appropriate relationship between stressed syllables and stressed notes – a really big deal in songwriting. When they’re lined up properly, the shape of the melody matches the natural shape of the language. Prosody between rhythm and meaning – obvious examples like, “you gotta stop! (pause)… Look and listen.” Or writing a song about galloping horses in a triplet feel. The elements all join together to support the central intent, idea and emotion of the work. Everything fits.

Mainstream examples of this include Garth Brooks’ song Friends In Low Places and Michael Jackson’s Man In The Mirror. In Brooks’ song, the melody of the song when he sings: “I’ve got friends in low places” is pitched quite low on the word ‘low’, again, sonically mimicking the intention of the lyric. Or in the last chorus of Man In The Mirror, there’s a half step modulation up on the word ‘change’, reinforcing that the narrator himself is going to make that change. There’s so many ways prosody manifests itself in music; harmonically, melodically, rhythmically, lyrically… and perhaps the thing that gets talked about the least and what I’d like to focus on here, is sonically.

Purchase options below
Find the complete article and many more in this issue of MusicTech - Ableton Live 10
If you own the issue, Login to read the full article now.
Single Issue - Ableton Live 10
Or 599 points
Please be aware that this issue and other special issues are not included in any of the subscription options unless stated.
Annual Digital Subscription
Only £ 2.33 per issue
Or 2799 points
Monthly Digital Subscription
Only £ 2.99 per issue
Or 299 points

View Issues

About MusicTech

70 Pro Tips - A huge array of tips and tricks for all stages of music production. Interview: Emre Ramazanoglu - The musician, engineer and songwriter who has worked with the stars. Workshops: Live 10: Beginner's Guide to Live - Create a song from scratch Live 10: Workflow Additions - Martin Delaney explores the improved Arrangement View in Live 10 and other workflow updates MIDI Routing And Recording - A look at some fundamental and sophisticated routing techniques