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In a Tom Cosm video tutorial on making beats in Ableton Live, he states (12:20):

See, we have that kind of suck now. That's another kind of tension thing. I find with these kind of tension things, you need a release after or just a few beats after to kind of get them some resolution.

What is he meaning by a "release", and where can I look to get more theory or understanding on that concept?

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2 Answers 2

Tension and release is a very important concept in music structure. A lot of chord schemes are built so that a certain chord will cause a feeling of tension, which can then be released or prolonged as desired. This is something our ears pick up instinctively; anyone with or without musical knowledge will subconsciously notice this tension and release.

Take a look at this article if you want an in-depth explanation -- I think it is quite nicely written.

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Ack, beat me by 25 seconds! Nice article on melodic tension and release. I suspect that the video might be using a different kind of tension though. Anyway, +1. –  Bradd Szonye Jun 27 at 18:44
    
Thank you, very informative. +1 –  dc2 Jun 27 at 19:33

He’s referring to tension and release, an element of music theory which states essentially that music uses tension to create an expectation, followed by a release that fulfills the expectation. Dissonance and consonance are a very common method for tension and release, but you can also use rhythm, dynamics, and other musical elements to create tension and then release it.

For example, when a song gets very quiet, we usually expect it to get loud. When somebody sings do-re-mi-fa-sol-la-ti, there’s a strong expectation that they follow with do. When somebody knocks the rhythm “shave and a haircut,” we expect “two bits” to follow. All of those are ways of creating tension, and the parts that satisfy it are called the release.

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Appreciate it. This is very helpful. +1 –  dc2 Jun 27 at 19:33

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