It may be a function of some sort of primal sense of forward motion that makes the Ready Set Go! template so satisfying. I was taught about this formula in my first year Polyphony class by my prof, composer David Keane. Here’s what he said.
As listeners, our brains love repetition, then transformation of what we’ve been repeating. And the formula is Ready, Set, Go!:
Here’s the start of it – get ready
Here’s the same thing again – but more of it
Tah Dah! – This is where we were headed – and now see where else we can go…
Like a succession of progressively larger waves breaking on the shore, the music washes over us and carries us onward.
Once you know about this (or get reminded about it, as a coach – Kathy Greason – recently did for me) it’s amazing how often there are opportunities for it to be applied. Most songs contain several lyrical or melodic sequences just crying out for this treatment.
As an example of its use dynamically – the first phrase swells from a mp to a mf, the second from slightly less than the mf to a f, and the third phrase from a mf to a ff. If you use numbers for dynamic range, phrase one would go from a 2 to a 3, phrase two from 2.5 to 4, and phrase three from 3.5 to 5. Of course this can also be applied at much quieter dynamic levels. The forward pull does seem to work better if each successive phrase begins at a slightly lesser dynamic level than the peak of the phrase before it.
The effect can be even more dramatic if, as you’re using these dynamics, the vowel intensity, faces and body involvement all bump up a notch in energy with every wave.