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Song Structures: Making your music stand out


Song Structures: Making Your Music Stand Out

Song structures are the building blocks of any composition. Whether you’re looking for a No.1 hit or a Sunday morning jam, it’s useful to know what they are.

Song Structures: Verse, Chorus?

Whether you’re musically inclined or not, chances are you’ll be familiar with the idea of a verse and a chorus. But, did you know that there is much more to song structures than this?

Naturally, a lot of songs have an iconic intro, a bizarre bridge, or perhaps a faded outro. However, what we’re going to look at here is what makes each section of a song tick.

Moreover, we’ll check out a few chords that you could use, and the relationship they have with each other. Overall, using song structures to make your music stand out.

Intro

Firstly, we’ll start with our intros. An abbreviation for introduction, the intro of a song introduces the first few musical ideas within a song. Whether that’s with a hook, riff or chord progression.

In rock music, you’ll usually have a short guitar riff that’ll repeat occasionally throughout the song. When writing your own riffs, it’s useful to consider how that riff fits against the rest of your composition.

For instance, you could come up with a great little lick, but it may not compliment your chosen chord progression. However, a pretty fool proof method for composing a riff is to look within a basic guitar scale. The pentatonic scale ought to do it.

Am Pentatonic Scale - Song Structures
Song Structures – Am Pentatonic Scale · Source: Happy Bluesman

Aditonally, you could arpeggiate the chords from the verse. ‘Hotel California‘ by The Eagles has one of the most distinctive guitar intros ever. All that’s happening is a few arpreggios across the main chord progression. On a *12 string SG of course!

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Hotel California Intro Structure
Song Structures – Hotel California Arpeggio Chords

Verse

So, we’ve got an intro, now we need a verse. Think of this as your meat and potatoes of a song. The verse of a song will often return multiple times during a track. Thus, giving you opportunities to add different lyrics.

Typically, we’ll want four chords to repeat in our verse. Arguably one of the most basic song structures, but if it ain’t broke, don’t fix it. Right?

Within a key, we’ve got 8 pitches to work with. Therefore, 8 potential chords. However we can have different voicings and variations of each chord. For example, your first verse could have E / F#m / A / G#m. Next time around, why not convert to Emaj7 / F#m7 / Asus2 / G#m7? This gives the listener something fresh to listen to and is an overall important impact of song structures.

Song Structure verse ideas
Song Structures – Verse 1 and Verse 2

Song Structures: What’s a Ballad?

As we’ve just looked at, within one song structure, we can have multiple verses. If the lyrics change, then why can’t the chords too?

Some songs, we would class as ballads. This is where the lyrics have an overall narrative, rather than a repeated set of words and ideas. The chords prbaubly stay the same, but there is an obvious start and finish of the story within the song. Here are a few examples of ballads:

Chorus

Now that the song is almost fully established, it’s time for a chours. Occasionally, you’ll have another variation on a theme with a pre-chorus which will gradually build towards the main chorus.

Aside from some new chords, the chorus will likely have some dynamic and texture changes. Dynamics refer to the volume of a piece of music. So, we could increase the volume during the chorus to give the song more energy. Furthermore, texture refers to the amount of layers within a song.

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Typically a chours should sound euphonous and exciting. To achieve this, we can add a few more guitar tracks, more keys, a vocal harmony maybe. After our first chorus, it’s time to jump back to another verse.

Bridge

This part of song structures is meant to sound different. Essentally, a bridge is a space between a verse and the final chorus. The last hurrah if you like. Getting us ready for the last all important sing along chorus.

In terms of harmony, a new set of chords is often welcome during a bridge. Maybe even a key change. Depending on what genre you’re listening to, a bridge could also just be a slowed down chours, or even an instrumental section.

Unusally, some songs don’t have bridges. They’re not an essential requirement! But it’s always worth showing off your musical skills with another contrasting section.

Song Structures: What’s a Middle Eight?

For all intents and purposes, a middle eight is the same as a bridge. However, a middle eight only lasts for eight bars. So in a 4/4 time signature, this would be 32 beats (or measures depending on where you’re reading).

Outro

How many 1980s rock and pop songs can you name that just fade out? Studio and recording techniques are widely used when it comes to finishing a song. An outro is the conclusion to a song.

Some pieces will have a designated outro section, such as ‘Don’t Stop Me Now‘ by Queen, whereby it returns to the intro with some vocal improvisation.

Although, when it comes to live performances, it’s impossible to gradually fade out. Accordingly, a lot fo bands and artists will finish a song on a strong beat, either beat 1 or 4 of a chours or verse.

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Song Struture Terminology

It’s all well and good having various combinations of intros, bridges and instrumentals. Did you know that there are collective terms for songs with varying structures? Here we go:

  • Binary Form – A section, B section
  • Ternary Form – A section, B section, returning B section
  • Rondo Form – A section, B section, varied A section, C section, final A section
  • Strophic – The same A section repeated throughout

Typically, an A section is a verse, and the B section would therefore be the chorus. Also, with Rondo, the C section could be a bridge or a guitar solo. You can also have a varied song structure, where the traditional building blocks are considered less.

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Song Structures

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John Smith

My John Smith is a seasoned technology writer with a passion for unraveling the complexities of the digital world. With a background in computer science and a keen interest in emerging trends, John has become a sought-after voice in translating intricate technological concepts into accessible and engaging articles.

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