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3 Simple Song Structures For Beginners

Feb 28, 2024

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 If you're just getting started with songwriting, then song sections and song structure can seem overwhelming. So let's talk about three simple song structures to utilize as a beginner. The first song structure to consider using is a song structure that is just verses or just A sections. There is no chorus, there is no bridge. It is just one section over and over and over. One reason to start with this is that this is just the easiest way to write musically, because all you need to do is figure out the music for one section, maybe one chord progression and one melody. Then from there, we just need to write different lyrics for each section. And this used to be a very popular way to write songs. Choruses haven't been around forever, much less pre-choruses and post-choruses. Even thinking about songs like "The Times They Are A-Changin'" by Bob Dylan, there is no chorus in that song. There is a refrain. A refrain is just one line or maybe two lines that repeats usually in a verse. So to stick with that example in "The Times They Are A-Changin'" there is a verse, and then the last line of every verse is the line "The Times They Are A-Changin'." So we can do a similar thing with our songs, but we don't actually have a true chorus. This is a great first way to write a song because it essentially means you don't have to worry about song sections, you just have to worry about writing what seems like a song section and repeating that musically and changing the lyrics every time. Now admittedly, this is a song structure that has fallen out of favor, but it probably is gonna come back at some point because cultures tend to react and then overreact to certain things. And right now we've been moving in a direction of smaller and smaller song sections where now we have not only a verse, but a pre-chorus and then a chorus and then a post-chorus, and then we still have a bridge. And at some point there's probably gonna be a reaction anyway, that and honestly, there's nothing wrong with having something different than what the norm is right now. Remember that at some point to have a chorus would be, "Oh wow, that's different than what everybody else is doing." Now every song has a chorus. So to go backwards and be like, "You know what? I'm gonna go back to basics and just have verses, there is absolutely nothing wrong with that and it's a great way to start." And as a bonus here, especially if you're recording or producing your own song, a great way to force yourself to get better at arranging and production is to have a song that is only one song section. Because now you need to figure out how to keep the song interesting for two, three, four minutes with there only being one section over and over and over. It's way easier to keep a song interesting when the actual music of it, the melody, the chord progression, all of that is actually changing up. Then it's just easier as an arranger to keep it interesting. You just have to not screw it up. But if you essentially have a 30 second verse and that repeats like five times to make it so that by the fifth time you're not like, "Oh my goodness, not again, please." That takes a lot of skill actually. So it's a great way to also work on your arranging and production skills. And even if you have no interest in recording your songs or arranging or producing your own songs, this is still a great place to start just because it is the easiest place to start where you don't need to really understand song sections. And it just is very simple from a music writing standpoint. But admittedly it is a little more difficult on the lyric writing standpoint. And that brings us to idea number two, which is a basic verse, chorus, verse, chorus structure. Now this is probably the easiest song structure of all, especially from a musical standpoint. And from a lyrical standpoint, it actually might be the single easiest way to write a song. This is almost certainly the easiest song structure to utilize for a truly modern sound. And what's great about this song structure is it will start to teach you how to write a chorus, which is going to be a very important skill to have as a songwriter. Because songs ultimately are probably going to live or die by two things, the melody and the chorus. Yes, of course the rest of the song is important. I think lyrics are important. I think that the music is important, whether the melody or whether it's some guitar hook or the bass line, every element of your song certainly is important. But there's no question that the most important part of any song is going to be the chorus, if it has one and the melody. So because the chorus is almost certainly in the top two most important things about any given song, it's pretty important to learn how to write a good chorus. And what better way to do that than to actually practice writing choruses. And a great way to practice writing choruses is to practice this song structure, which really emphasizes the chorus, because really you just have a verse and a chorus. The verse is going to usually be the part where we're telling the story or we're giving the sub ideas. And the chorus is what contains the main point, the main idea or the main theme of the song. This song structure is also the easiest way to learn how to write a song that is composed of song sections that actually work together. This is something that often is difficult for new songwriters. They might do something like write a song section, feel like, okay, this is a idea for a song. This could maybe be a chorus, maybe be a verse, but then let's say it's a verse. They don't know how to actually write a chorus that goes with that verse. And this is a great practice for that, because in this case, you only have to worry about two song sections that do work together. We're not throwing a bridge in there. You don't have to worry about pre-choruses and post-choruses. There's just an A section and a B section, or a verse and a chorus. And to keep it really simple, generally we want the verses to contain either the story or the sub ideas under the main idea that is probably in your chorus. So if you have a chorus with a central theme or something like love takes time, then the verses, if they are story driven, might be something like the first verse telling the story of how you first met. And then the second verse tells the story of first falling in love. And then the third part of the story in your third verse would be talking about maybe when you got married. Or if you were to write a song where the verses are instead doing sub ideas instead of telling a story, and let's say this song is about somebody who thinks they're better than everybody else, then the verses might be something like verse one talks about how you think you're smarter than everybody else. And verse two is how you think you're cooler than everybody else. And verse three is how you also think you're better looking than everybody else. So then finally, a good third song structure to utilize if you are a beginner is the tried and true verse chorus, verse chorus, bridge chorus song structure. So this is probably indisputably the definitive song structure of something like the last 50 years. This is the song structure that includes the three main primary song sections that we have in pretty much all music now. Now, of course, there are some songs that still don't have choruses. There are songs that don't have bridges. Some songs have pre-choruses and post-choruses and don't have bridges now, but the vast majority of songs will all have verses, choruses, and at least one bridge. And if there's one song structure that you can just use over and over and over again, it would be this one. So this is gonna be a fantastic third song structure to try because really it is the definitive song structure that has all the main elements that you're looking for in a song. If you know how to write great verses, a great chorus, and a great bridge, you are well on your way to be good at pre-choruses and post-choruses, that's great too. But really, if there's three song sections that it's important to really be good at writing and write over and over again, it would be the verse, the chorus, and the bridge. And this is one of the most used song structures for good reason. It just is something that works really well in the context of many different songs and stories that you are trying to tell. So with the last song structure, what we essentially added was a chorus. We already did verses with the first song structure, the second song structure added to the chorus, and this third song structure is our first time entering into writing bridges. So bridges are great because this is a great place to have a plot twist or a change of perspective in the song. So for instance, if your song is generally pretty happy and seeing the bright side of life, then maybe the bridge is the time to bring a little bit of the rain. Or maybe if you've spent the whole time sulking about how awful it is to have this happen to you, then maybe the bridge is the time to look at the bright side and be like, you know what? Maybe there is hope beyond this horrible thing I'm going through. And just as an extra tip here, be sure to take full advantage of the fact the bridge really is a song section that can break away from the rest of the song, just more than pretty much any other song section. A verse and a chorus really generally should feel like they are two parts of the same song. And certainly the bridge should still feel like a part of the song. It can't depart that much. But as far as a song section that can really get away with sounding pretty different than the rest of the song, the bridge is definitely the one. There's good reason for the fact that it is the most common song section to utilize something like the relative minor, where maybe you're in C major for your whole song, but then in the bridge you switch to the relative minor, which would be A minor in that instance. There's a reason that that is a common way to go. Cause the bridge is just a great place to really break outside of the mold of what the music has sounded like with the whole rest of the song. In fact, this is often a good thing because it helps keep the song interesting. Usually when the bridge comes along in a verse, chorus, verse, chorus, bridge, chorus, song structure, you're like two and a half minutes into the song and you've heard the verse, you've heard the chorus twice. And then you've also heard the verses music twice, but the lyrics changed up probably for the second verse. So you've really started to hear a lot of the same stuff. So the bridge is really a great opportunity to throw a curve ball, both with the lyrics and with the story that you're telling and with the music. So hopefully you found this helpful. If you did something else, you'll likely find helpful is my free cheat sheet of 20 different ways to start writing a song. A lot of times songwriters don't even know where to start with a song. And this gives you 20 different ways to start with a song, whether it's starting with a chord progression, starting with a melody, or starting with something like a bass line, or even a song title in reverse engineering a song from there. There are 20 great ways to start writing a song in this cheat sheet. Be sure to check it out. Thank you so much for watching. I appreciate every single one of you. I'll talk to you in the next one.



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