Structure

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Lyrical Structure & Style

Structure

Song Structure

Song Structure (or ‘form’) is the order that your song’s sections occur in. It’s how you arrange the narrative content of your song so that it’s clear and accessible to the listener. 

Making sure your lyrics have a clear structure is an integral part of the songwriting process and can be a good point to consider the listener’s experience and journey through your message. 

In this section, we’ll be looking at song structure and sections with a focus on lyrics. However, it’s also important to note that when structuring your song, you should consider how it develops harmonically and melodically. 

Arranging your lyrics into sections keeps the listener engaged and interested. To do this, you’ll need to:

  • Explore the concept and purpose of song structure
  • Understand the purpose of individual song sections
  • Understand AABA structures
  • Learn the process of identifying and naming different song sections

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Conventional Song Sections​

At this point, it makes sense to introduce you to the various ‘parts’ of a song, so that you can begin to see how other people’s songs work and start to build up a vocabulary of songwriting terms for when we refer to them in future lessons.

Let’s start by looking at the sections of a conventionally formatted pop song, in the order that they would usually appear. This isn’t an exhaustive list but covers the most commonly-used song sections.

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Verses

Narrative content (story), providing context, outlining the situation/scenario. Each verse should say something different, i.e. progress the story, and should contain enough detail to add interest and ‘truth’.

Pre-Chorus

Usually moves the song forward from the verse lyrically, harmonically and melodically, to build tension and anticipation of the chorus. Will normally set up or provide context for the message given in the chorus.

Chorus

The main message/idea/statement in the song. Usually where you find the hook, or most memorable part, of the song.

Bridge (Middle 8)

An opportunity to introduce new lyrical, harmonic and melodic content. Usually offers a new perspective on the story or message of the song.

Also consider: intro, outro, refrain, instrumental, solo, post-chorus etc.*

Naming Sections

Using named sections is useful for popular songs where you have a clear chorus section and want the most familiar shape to the listener e.g verse, chorus, verse, chorus, bridge/middle 8, chorus.

Simple variations on this are to add in a pre-chorus (before the chorus), and/or an intro (at the beginning) and/or an outro (at the end). 

Variations to the middle section range from being as simple as a short 4 or 8-bar turn around to an instrumental solo, or a complex bridge section with different musical and lyrical material.

Named Sections in Context

The lyrics in your named sections all have a specific role to fill to propel the story forward. If you ever get stuck while writing one of these sections, refer to the earlier lesson. 

What is its purpose in the overall journey of the song, and have the lyrics already achieved that? If not, how can they?

 Take a look at some of the examples below: