The chorus of a song is a big deal. It'll make or break the greatness of your entire creation. The chorus is likely the most memorable part of your song, and you need the length to be perfect.
Not too short, not too long. If your chorus is too short, no one's really going to remember it or realize it happened, and if it's too long, it won't be catchy enough.
In theory, your chorus can be as long as you want it to be since it's your song.
But if you're trying to get the approval of fans and the music industry, you will probably want to follow the industry standards when it comes to your songwriting to get the best results and the most pleasant response from your listeners.
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To understand chorus length, you will first need to make sure you understand a bar or a measure of a song and a song's BPM.
A bar, also known as a measure, is a small section of a song that usually accounts for 3 or 4 beats each. All songs are made up of dozens of measures, also called bars, since they are literally separated by bars when written in sheet music format.
The rhythmic feel of a song bar makes it feel like they should naturally be paired in fours, i.e. a chorus that is 4 bars, 8 bars, 16 bars, etc.
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.
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The BPM (beats per measure) is a way to measure the tempo of your song. Songs that are slow are often less than 100 BPM, while fast songs are usually over 120 BPM.
A fast song is way more likely to get away with a 16-bar chorus in comparison to a slow song, in which the chorus may seem to run too long.
If you have a pop song that has a very simple song structure, you will likely want to have a shorter chorus so that it doesn't get too repetitive. If you have a long chorus with the same chords and the same melody happening over and over, listeners might get annoyed.
Similarly, if you have a pop song that has very simplistic lyrics for the hook, with one phrase or less, you will also likely want to make your chorus 8 bars instead of longer.
This is not to be confused with a chorus that repeats toward the end of a song; that's totally okay!
If your lyrics are a bit complex and you want to focus on a few phrases for your chorus, you could go for a 16-bar track.
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.
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.
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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.
So, to wrap things up, the length of a chorus in a song is crucial for creating a memorable and catchy tune. While the length can be as long or short as you want it to be, following industry standards is important for gaining the approval of fans and the music industry.
Typically, a chorus lasts for 8 or 16 bars in a song, depending on the song's chord structure, lyrical structure, and most importantly, the BPM of the song. In comparison, verses are usually around 16 bars, and bridges are often just 8 bars.
The intro and outro of a song are also usually 8 bars, although there's nothing wrong with having a shorter or longer one, or none at all.
Understanding the length of different parts of a song and their relationship to each other is essential for creating a well-structured and captivating tune that will resonate with listeners.
As a session singer, writer, and producer that has worked with over 200 clients to provide high-quality jingles, singles, and features, Yona spends her time creating and marketing new music and helpful resources for creators. Her recent collaborations include work with PBS Sound Field, Tribe of Noise, and the National Black Chamber of Commerce. Check out Yona’s latest releases on her Spotify, her Youtube and share if you like it!
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