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How To Write A First Verse

Sep 04, 2021

What is the purpose of a first verse?

What makes something a good first verse?

What jobs and responsibilities does a first verse have in the context of a song?

That’s what we’re going to go over in this post.


What Is The Purpose Of A First Verse?

In the most simple terms, the purpose of a first verse is to capture the attention of the listener. 

You want them to be intrigued and turn the volume up.

The first line of a song is often regarded as one of the most important lines in the entire song. It’s possibly the most important. 

And, 9 times out of 10, the first line is in your first verse.

Think of your first verse like the pilot of a tv show. 

good pilot intrigues you and makes you want to watch the next episode. A great pilot grabs you so much that you decide it’s your new show.

This is what you want out of your first line and first verse. 

You want them to hook the listener into listening to the rest of the song. You want to intrigue them enough to want to hear the rest of your story.


What Makes A First Verse A Good First Verse?

A good first verse will basically accomplish 2 things: grab the listener and properly set the stage for the rest of the song

Let’s reflect on a good pilot again. It should make you curious about where the story is going or what is going to happen with the characters you’ve been introduced to.

Otherwise you might say “well, that was cool” and never watch another episode.

So make the listener care about the story you’re going to tell. Just like someone telling a story around the campfire, you need to give people a reason to continue to listen. 

So hook them with something intriguing or profound right from the start.

This is also setting the foundation for your song. You’re likely introducing the character and perspective of the song in the first verse.

Is it a 3rd person narrator telling the story of a young woman’s journey to find her purpose?

Is it a 1st person narrator talking about their conflicted thoughts before they break up with someone?

The listener probably knows the character, perspective, and general type of song they’re getting from the first verse.

You should also at least begin to reveal what type of story this is.

Is it a story of heartbreak? A story about longing for something lost? Is it a story about your excitement for the future?

Overall, a good verse needs to build towards the chorus.

The chorus is usually the main idea of the song, and the verses function as the support to that main point.

So your verses actually need to support and connect with the chorus. 

Your verses shouldn’t be talking about what a beautiful day it is and the chorus musing about the nature of love. 

The verses should lead the listener to the chorus.


Let’s Get Specific

You want your verses to contain enough information to move the story, but you also don’t want them to drag. 

A good rule of thumb is to hit the chorus before or around the 1 minute mark.

So your verse really shouldn’t be over a minute, especially if you also have an intro.

Verses tend to be the most wordy section of a song. This is because the chorus should be kept more simple and often has longer-held notes.

Longer-held notes means fewer syllables. Fewer syllables generally means fewer words.

Lean into this and really utilize vivid imagery and vibrant words to tell the story as beautifully as you can.

You probably aren’t focused on the intimate details in the chorus, because the chorus tends to be “zoomed out”.

But, for the verses, we should really be “zoomed in” to the meat of the story. This is when we should get the intimate details.

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