Learning Proper Song Structure Will Help You Write Better Songs
Songwriting is craft that has rules. This is where Song Structure comes in. Many songwriters break the rules all the time, but you have to know the rules before you can break them.
Keep in mind this basic definition:
A Song form provides the framework and the meaningful structure that makes a song listenable and allows the listener to follow it easily.
A song can start in many different ways. An idea can be a riff or a melody line, a cord progression, a hook, a lyric, or even just a title.
The first step in developing an idea into a song is to figure out what type of song structure your idea naturally fits into.
Let's look at the basic song parts that make up a song's structure.
- The intro
- The bridge
The intro is the lead in to the song. Generally it's best to keep your intros short, four to eight bars.
This is especially true if you are planning to submit your songs to a music publisher or record label A&R people. These people will usually will only listen to the first 20 or 30 seconds of a song before they decide to reject it or not.
Many of the successful songs written today will have a song structure of verse / chorus / verse / chorus / bridge / chorus.
Of course, this is not written in stone. There are many different variations on song forms. You can build your song along a certain form if you choose but often the song itself will dictate it's form as it develops.
When inspiration hits, I feel that figuring out the natural song structure of the tune you are trying to write will help you put the song together.
The Title of your song should evoke an image or picture in your listeners mind, preferably something memorable.
In the Verse you want to create momentum to keep the song moving along. One way to do this is to eliminate any long pauses.
Try to keep any pauses to two beats. This will help keep your listener interested in your song.
The first verse of a song should have a simple arrangement. An example would be: a strait forward Drum beat, a Rhythm Guitar and Bass.
In the second verse you might add a Keyboard, a second Guitar, and or Percussion.
The verse should also have an emotional build-up.
All of this is leading up to the first Chorus. The chorus should have a major impact on your listener and contain the all important HOOK.
The hook is what makes a song memorable and makes people want to listen to it again.
In most hit songs the hook is in the chorus. This is not always the case. The hook can be in the title, the verse, the bridge or even the intro.
The rules can be broken if it works but once again you have to know the rules before you can break them.
The next important part of a song is the Bridge. The purpose of the bridge is to provide contrast to the other parts of the song.
Not every song has a bridge. A bridge happens just once in a song and can provide a twist or different view. Like a great chorus, a great bridge can have a major impact on the listener.
Your song's form can be whatever you'd like it to be. In many cases, as I said before, the song develops naturally into one song form or another.
A common song forms is verse, verse, chorus, verse, bridge, chorus or AABACB. And there's ABABB and so on. Try different combinations. Experiment with intros and outros.
It's up to you, the songwriter, what song forms and song structure you use. Just remember that if you goal is to sell your songs, keep them at four minute and under. Keep the intros short and write a catchy hook.
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