What is Your Favorite Song Structure?

40 posts / 0 new
Last post

I tend to be very analytical...even when trying to be creative! So I love to start a song with a draft using placeholders for various sections. And my all-time favorite structure is...

4 bar intro
Verse
Verse
Chorus
Verse
Chorus
Bridge
Chorus
Outro

I find just the right amount of variety and still keep my song between 3 and 3-1/2 minutes. In a skirmish I will often shorten by removing a verse at the beginning and removing the bridge. But those often get added later anyway!

What's your favorite song structure?

V, Ch, V, Ch, Bridge, Ch (where the bridge is often a solo.) Almost everything I do is a variation of that ordinary (almost boring) structure. That being said, I had several songs that were V V CH (solo/bridge) CH earlier this year that I like a lot. It suits the post-punk alt project I was doing. And for 50/90 I've been doing a ton of V, CH, V, CH. Just enough to be a full sounding song. But not enough to get in the way of doing the dishes or taking the kid to softball.... or getting drafted into being the PA announcer for the Rock Bridge High School Softball team. *sigh*

Edit for clarity sake. You'll have to read the above to see the details:

V, Ch, V Ch, Br, CH

V, V, Ch (br/solo) Ch

V, Ch, V, Ch

That would be mine too, John. I'll occasionally do V V Pre-chorus, Chorus, V Pre-chorus, Chorus, Bridge, Pre-Chorus, Chorus

When I'm lazy though (i.e. - during FAWM - especially skirmishes ) I might just do V V Ch V Ch

There was a challenge in 50/90 or FAWM one year to start with the chorus. That can be fun, sometimes, too. Lots of good ones.

Yeah, I'm intro/v/c/v/c/b/c/outro pretty consistently, but I've enjoyed mixing it up a bit.

Also, for a quick skirmish, this works well for me,

verse ending with refrain
verse ending with refrain
bridge
verse ending with refrain

Also, does anyone use Struxxure in the Tools menu above? I have not found it to be very helpful...just tried it and got this,

Verse
Verse
Lift/Pre-chorus
Verse
Lift/Pre-chorus
Verse
Verse

Is that really a suggestion or a random pattern generated? Would anyone really do two "Lift/Pre-chorus" sections and not do a chorus?

I think bridges can be the most fun to write, but I also think they *really* need to earn their keep. Better no bridge than a weak bridge.

A lot of times I'll start with a guess at a structure, and start laying scratch tracks down in my DAW before I know what the song is really going to be like. Lately, I often find myself wanting to make the same two changes:

1.) inserting space before some or all verses (usually the same chords as the verse, but just to buy a little more time before the vocal comes in).
2.) doubling up the last chorus (usually with some instrumentation change to increase the intensity of the second one)

Sometimes I wind up going back to make those changes. Other times, I'm lazy and I later regret not making them. Ideally, I'll beat it into my head to make them both a habit from the beginning, when I first start sketching out a song. Regardless, editing structure in my DAW as I go is definitely a part of my writing process, at least for now.

I think struxxure is a random drawing with a basic outline. In other words, it isn't pure chance, but it might as well be.

I'm with Mel on repeating the last chorus. But it depends. I think it's a great idea to play with the structure of a song a little. I know several tunes I took to the band (now defunct) got changed up just enough to make them more interesting. I, too, like an intro into the verses (even if just two measures.)

i use the main structure discussed here a lot, except i have a solo and return to chorus out, sometimes double, depending on song length. sometimes the structure changes once i go back and set changes to lyrics-- no chorus before the bridge, no solo, or whatever. i like it when the song does something different, for a change.

What about AABA? I've done one in this Challenge ( The Shuffle ) and did one in last Fawm ( Lidl'lina ), well the last one is more like ABA. I don't do them often, but it definetely is one main alternative. My favourite structure would be AABA with catchy chorus-like B-section. But songs kind of take the shape they want, I just help a bit and usually it's verse/chorus with me.

I agree with @Mel Gargamel about brigdes. They are optional. If the song needs one, sure, but most of the time a guitar solo or some other instrumental section is even better.

The lyrics can also change the song structure making it necessary to add or delete some section. Last Fawm with "Lady Gaga" I noticed very soon that the lines in the verses were so short that I couldn't get the whole story told. So I added a sung intro with four long lines to introduce the characters and the main theme.

Also I'd like to try ABAC structure sometimes ( "When I Fall In Love" by Nat King Cole and others ). And I will.

I don't really think too much about the structure. The structure for me comes out of the style and what I want to say. So if I'm writing a ballad, it's probably going to be verse chorus until I've told the story. If I'm doing a "fiddle tune" it will be AABB and sometimes CC. I might repeat the whole thing with variation if I'm feeling ambition. If I'm writing a sort of cutesy slightly jazzy thing it will probably be verse verse bridge verse. I also like to write rounds, which are their own form, and I'll play with structure for timing's sake, like with Hulda I doubled up a lot of the verses because putting a chorus between each one would have taken forever and been very dull.

the AABA form has been working for me lately. It allows me to keep things short and not too repetitive.
And it sounds more refreshing to my ears than verse-chorus. I rarely do verse-chorus forms because I feel it's overdone, verse-chorus forms don't excite me as much anymore because usually the chorus ends up being a weak chorus with a great verse. I knew this song (a mainstream pop song not from 5090) that had a great verse, a great bridge, but a weak chorus! I think the song would've been a lot better off as an AABA. I would have to disagree with @Mel Gargamel on not having a bridge at all than having a weak. I think I would have a weak bridge than a weak chorus. A weak bridge at least isn't supposed to be special but on the other hand, a chorus is supposed to be something special. A weak bridge still does it's job by taking a break from the verse. Btw @Mel Gargamel what makes a "weak bridge" to you? For me it's using the tonic, sub-domimant, and dominant together or using either of the two together with nothing else added. I also think that a bridge that sounds too much like the verse, also qualifies as weak bridge.

Not actually structure form but more like a section. I really like the intro-verse (it's also called a pre-verse or a jazz intro) section before the verse starts. It gives it some type of memorable character trait to the song. And you don't hear it in today's music. It works much better than your typical intro.

Structure? What's that?? Wink

V CH V CH B CH is my go-to standard form. It feels like a real song. It has enough repetition and variety. There's a reason it's a standard pop song form. It's good, and it works. It's like having a car with an engine, two doors, and four wheels. I'd say the chorus is the engine. If it doesn't work, you don't have much of a car.

I experiment with form and formlessness. For a not-pop song, it's easier to go with some non-standard form. It's more understood that you're building a sculpture, not trying to assemble a car.

Wherever the song wants to go

Last song I wrote was AAB. That's really unfinished feeling, which is what the song asked for. That one was definitely a little sculpture, not a pop song.

I remember reading that since a prechorus and bridge serve similar function, you should have one or the other, not both. I tend to choose a bridge. I wonder if that's a crock, tho?

The prechorus is really only necessary when you need to get from the verse to the chorus. It's like a bridge to the chorus. But a bridge is really an alternate view point or a digression. Often imparting new or interesting information (whether lyrically or musically or both.) I don't generally use pre-chorus sections. But I find that to be an interesting challenge... to use both in a song. *Ponder*

@Rainchaser - I was never considering a weak chorus as an option. I was saying, if a song has a weak bridge, I'd rather just take the bridge out. If the chorus is weak, then you definitely need to fix that problem, but it's independent of whether the bridge is weak / whether you have a bridge at all.

To me, a weak bridge is one that doesn't pull its weight. That can mean different things in different types of songs, so I'll pick an example. In a story song with a bridge, I expect verses to push the story along, choruses to hammer in the main point of the song, and the bridge should reveal some new context information that changes the meaning of the choruses in a satisfying way. The chorus is this massive thing, propped up by the verses. The bridge is the little nudge at the top that lets gravity do its job, letting the next chorus come crashing down.

Not every song works that way, but it's a pattern that works. If you're going for that pattern, but your bridge doesn't set up your last chorus to be a punchline, it's weak.

(I accidentally submitted this comment prematurely, and the site won't let me delete it.)

@Mel Gargamel I see what you mean by a "weak bridge" however I thought you were talking about it in compositional terms, and not in lyrical terms. Btw "weak chorus" thing came from me, I was just refuting on how a "weak bridge" wasn't all that bad. Now that I think of it, I actually wouldn't have no idea what would make a bad bridge, if it would have only come to lyrics! Lol I probably have written bridges that really didn't open new information towards the story or maybe I did!! Lol Whenever I analyze lyrics, I just look at the lyrics and skim them quickly, and from there if there's a particular line I like, I would analyze further to see anymore good lines I would to read. That's all I do! Lol I don't analyze on whether the lyrics are doing their parts for the sections of the song. I'm more composition savvy than lyrical savvy I guess. Smile

So you pull out your "Lennon" and I came at you with my "McCartney"! Maybe we should write a song together!! Lol Wink

@Rainchaser - haha, Paul McCartney is my favorite Beatle as well. Paul is all about melody, IMHO. Structure and chords in his songs are in support of melody and lyrics. What's your favorite Paul McCartney bridge?

- The one that serves the song.

Hopefully, as intended, they're all different. Well, one can hope... I start with cadence, look at the story, then see what may need to be done, or good to try, live with it for a while, revise, recycle, -- in context of use.

kc5's picture
kc5

Well, I found this forum quite interesting from @Mel Gargamel down because what he said makes total sense to me. I think I'm going to print that off for reference. Also, what @tcelliott brought up about the pre-chorus is something I'd be interested to hear more about. I use pre-chorus because it seems to fit. I use it more on instinct as the words flow out, but never really connected a particular purpose to it, it just "feels" to serve the song that I use it in. I'm supposing understanding the purpose of its use might help me to become a better writer. I like to experiment with different formats, maybe even some that are unconventional to keep it interesting. I'm at that stage where I want to push the boundaries of what I can get away with if it works. It may be that I should have some more understanding behind me before doing that, but I can't help myself--I like to try new things. That is why honest feedback on such things would be much appreciated when doing a song review for me. Also, I'm not so clear on what the typical formats are for certain genres. I have trouble categorizing my songs to genre sometimes anyway--another area I could get better understanding in. However, not understanding is not something I'm going to allow to stop me from songwriting. I learn from my mistakes when I know that I've made them, so I mistake away and hope someone can give me some clarity on it. I learn by doing. I've been writing for about two years and mostly in the Christian genre which has a lot of CCM format of v, ch, v, ch, bridge, v, ch, ch and variables on that, so doing this is really exciting for me. As I've mentioned before elsewhere, I tend to capture my idea in words foremost and the form is secondary--not saying not important, just that my format is often dictated by what I want to say and my primary focus when writing out my lyrics is to get the idea across, then I go back and work on format. Understanding the why's and how's of formatting the song form better, I think will help me as a writer, so I find this quite interesting.

I mostly use what John presented. I never took advantage of the pre-chorus option but I certainly could try working that into my song structures. Sometimes a song will start with a chorus opener (Beatles). I like to use a repeating intro in my songs (Smoke on the Water). The intro sometimes appears to be the last line of the chorus. I like to use a refrain sometimes too.

Many of my songs have a key change at or during the bridge leading into the final sections, up a full tone (truck drivers gear shift)

@johnstaples "does anyone use Struxxure in the Tools" Yes. I've used it twice this 50/90. In fact, the last song I did, I used all the Muse Tools. Struxxure in particular gave me VERSE VERSE VERSE. I never write like that, so it was aa interesting challenge.

on a related note-- for those who use rhyme schemes, which are your favorites? are there any that you try to avoid because of overuse or some other reason? i went through a period where i used AAB or AAAB, usually doubled for each verse, so i took a break when it came to dominate 10 to 12 songs in a row. i usually use ABx_, usually by 2 or 4, occasionally 6, and often 8. i sometimes use AABB, but then i feel i have to mostly use AAAA in the chorus for it to feel catchier than the verses. i find AABB to be fine for a chorus in an ABx_ verse form, though i rarely feel the inverse works. anyone else notice anything about their use of or preference for rhyme schemes?

I'm with @Fuzzy... Biggrin

In answer to [@fuzzy[ and [@dragondreams], structure is how you place the parts of the song around the guitar solo. (The debate on whether they are needed at all is a different one.)

@tcelliott - there are "other" parts!? Biggrin

My normal structure is

V
V
Ch
V
Ch
Ch
last line of chorus

I rarely use a bridge unless I need to explain something that missing in the verses/chorus.

@tsunamidaily Not much a favorite rhyme scheme as one I go to too often. ABAB. I'm getting kinda sick of myself with that. But you're certainly right about the AAAA rhyme scheme making a strong chorus. Especially works well with uptempo songs. I'll also sometimes do AAAx, where x is a long vowel sound that can stand easily on it's own.

@tcelliott; yeah, I know what structure is, I just tend to ignore the rules most times. Wink

Verse
Chorus
Verse
Chorus
Bridge/Solo
Chorus (X2)

What a good question John! I've tried on most arrangements for size from verse/refrain to progressive but I tend to stick to tradition (what you use) only under Dan's guidance I've ditched the 4 bar or extended intros these days to cater for shorter attention spans and we tend to keep our songs slick at 2:50/3:10 as audience drop off (from researching our listener stats) can be brutal.
I've been toying with a double bridge recently and am quite liking the drop lift, drop lift effect it gives and allows a kind of breakaway from the usual double chorus whammy ending. Thanks for such a thought provoking topic!

So would that be bridge bridge or bridge chorus bridge chorus, @Jibbidy34?

@tcelliott bridge chorus bridge chorus xx

That's an interesting thought. It makes it harder to write a good bridge (at least for me,) though. Intriguing

i have done that occasionally when a bridge turns out really well. usually there is a solo between the first bridge-chorus and the second, when i do. sometimes i solo and go right back to the bridge, instead of putting a chorus in between.

My thoughts exactly @tsunamidaily and that's when I use it - when a bridge is just too good to be played only once Biggrin