In the song BrokEn by Coldplay there are lyrics sung by the lead singer that are repeated by a background choir;

Lord, when I'm broken (when I'm broken)
I'm in need (I'm in need)
I feel that ocean (feel that ocean)
Swallowing me (swallowing me)

It reminds me of Gospel music. Is there a name for this kind of back-and-forth in music? Or are there genres in which this occurs often?

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    The general technique is "call and response". I don't know if there's a more specific term when the call and the response are the same. Commented Jan 29, 2021 at 16:24

2 Answers 2


Call and response or antiphony means some kind of trading of musical statements back and forth between players or ensembles.

But when you mention repetition of lyrics you probably should also know the term refrain which is a stanza or line of poetry (lyrics) repeated, like the title in the song The Times They Are A-Changin.

Call and response in most cases probably won't involve a refrain. Call and response is usually the immediate repetition of a line or maybe just involves new lines. But, immediate repetition doesn't make a refrain. A refrain is more structural a stanza or ending line of a stanza that is usually repeated in some regular pattern.

I would call your example call and response.


Looks like a musical trick to emulate an echo. I would argue it's not a call/response, since the response would typically be different from the call.

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