All of the best songs in the world follow what is referred to as a song structure, with different sections of the song making a whole piece when you put them together. You've probably heard of a few terms for parts of a song, but there are some underrated song sections and possibilities when it comes to writing music.
The best thing about songwriting is that there are no definite rules when it comes to creativity, but there are often outlines and guides you can follow from past musicians that can help you form the perfect work of art.
I'll list the common and uncommon song parts that you can consider for the structure of your future song to help you get some ideas flowing. Don't be afraid to switch things up and think outside of the box if you really want to go deep with the musical expression!
Verses are usually around 16 bars of a song. A lot of people like to make their choruses and verses the same length to keep it simple, but it also works really well to have a verse that is 16 bars and a hook that is 8, especially if you have simple lyrics in the hook.
Your verses are the best sections to tell your story or give your song's message. This is usually the wordiest section of a song, so be sure to keep people's attention yet still provide depth to the meaning behind your lyrics.
Verses are sometimes followed by prehooks, which give you another chance to add a good amount of lyrics. Prehooks also give you a chance to write a catchy melody that will lead to an even catchier hook.
A song chorus usually lasts 8 or 16 bars in a song. Your choice to make the bar length 8 or 16 depends largely on the song's chord structure, the lyrical structure of your song, and, most frequently, the BPM of your song.
In modern music, you can usually interchange the words "chorus" and "refrain" when speaking about the most important part of a song that repeats at least twice. An example of a common song has two verses, a bridge, and a chorus or a refrain.
So in most cases, you can use either word. The more popular term is "chorus" and the term "refrain" can seem traditional and more dated. The term "refrain" is often used for songs in traditional styles like classical, gospel, or folk music.
Try to write a chorus that can get stuck in someone's head. The key to a good hook is balancing simplicity with originality. It's challenging to do, and the harder you think about it, the further you might get from an excellent hook.
A bridge is a perfect time to create a climactic point for your song. It's also a good time to shake up the repetitiveness of your hook and verses with a fresh lyric and/or melodic idea that will really stand out to the listener.
Sometimes, a bridge can serve as the song's breakdown and become as simplistic and catchy as a hook could be.
A song bridge is often just 8 bars. The bridge can stand alone or be followed by a breakdown, but the bridge usually brings new melodic ideas to a song that could change the song up a bit too much if it were too long.
Try to make your intro lyrics simple but exciting. You want to hook the listener in from the moment they press play on your song.
People are very picky these days because there is so much music out there for them to choose from. For this reason, that's why people sometimes skip an intro altogether (song creators and song listeners!).
Give them a hint of why they should stay and play through your whole track.
The outro is your very last chance to impress. Similar to the intro, it's something you don't want to underthink; the outro is often the last thing someone hears before they decide if they want to add your song to one of their playlists or not.
Give them that final nudge with an outro that sticks to their brains and convinces them that your song is indeed worth a save and a second listen.
The Intro and Outro in songs are also usually 8 bars. There's nothing wrong with having an intro that's half the amount of an outro, or no intro and outro at all, but most songs have at least an intro in order to slowly ease you into the song and not just plop into the verse or chorus out of nowhere.
A Post-Chorus is a second chorus that is catchy and blends in with the first chorus very well, but it also introduces a new melodic element that the main chorus does not have.
You can often find a post-chorus in modern genres like Pop, R&B, and EDM. They work well for songs that are straightforward lyrically with memorable melodies.
A pre-chorus is often used in pop and rock genres and occurs after the first and second verses. While this section is usually very catchy as well, it always feels as if it's leading you into the best moment, and you're not there yet.
Pre-choruses often have chord progressions that give you the feeling of anticipation, ending on the fifth chord that gets resolved to a root chord in the chorus.
In many popular songs, there is a part that is referred to as a breakdown that is featured toward the end of the track. The breakdown section often strips away the many instrument and vocal parts going on at the same time to feature something simple like the bass only, percussion only, or both.
Breakdowns can work really well after a bridge section, a third verse, or a later hook that is done in a song. A good breakdown ends with a ramp back up to a higher dynamic level in the song that will bring the energy and instrumentation back after the section is done.
Most of the best rock anthems of all time feature an amazing guitar solo toward the end of the song that takes the entire track to new heights, so you don't want to forget about this type of song section when planning for a song in this genre.
Instrumental solos can be done in any genre, and they are often found in styles including jazz, reggae, and Latin music. An instrumental solo really goes crazy when you're able to be there and witness it live.
Similar to an instrumental solo, the vocalist can have a section of a song dedicated to showing off great creativity in the form of an adlib, which works really well for the latter half of a song in certain styles.
Adlibbing is also known as improvising, and it’s the beautiful part where you hear a good singer freestyling, often in the background of repeated hooks or in the intro/outro. But you could also just take a moment to dedicate an entire section of your song to ad-libbing if you'd like!
As a session singer, writer, and producer that has worked with over 200 clients to provide high-quality jingles, singles, features, nursery rhymes, and DJ drops, she currently spends her time engulfed in creating and marketing new music and helpful resources for creators. Her most recent creative collaborations include work with PBS Sound Field, Tribe of Noise, and the National Black Chamber of Commerce. Check out Yona’s latest music releases on her Spotify, her Youtube and share the music if you like it!
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