This is a very common pop song structure. It consists of a series of verses (usually two or three), interspersed with a refrain (chorus), and often with an instrumental break towards the end of the song. A chorus usually contrasts with a verse harmonically, melodically, lyrically and by the way that it is arranged. Choruses are usually "fuller" in sound, and contain the "hook" of the material - a short, repeated, instantly memorable musical element. One of the most famous examples of this form is “Candle In The Wind” by Elton John. (There are two versions of this song, one of which was lyrically adapted as a tribute to Princess Diana).
The structure here is Intro, Verse 1, Chorus, Verse 2, Chorus, Verse 3, Chorus. (after each chorus there is a brief musical interlude). The song is originally in the key of E, beginning on the E chord in the verse, but moving to the dominant chord as the first chord in the chorus (B). Songs with this type of structure often begin the chorus with a different chord to the home key, in order to provide a harmonic contrast with what has gone before.
This verse-chorus structure can be flexed and developed. For example, consider the song “Run” (“Light up, light up”), by Snow Patrol (recently covered by Leona Lewis). Here the structure is Verse 1, Chorus, Verse 2 (shorter), Chorus, Chorus (with different words), Instrumental (over the chords of the chorus) followed by one more Chorus! Again, there is a shift of harmony when we arrive at the chorus. The song moves from A minor in the verses, to C major in the chorus. So here the song moves up to the relative major. This mirrors the shift lyrically to the words “Light up, light up” as the music modulates to the major. The verse-chorus structure is also widely used in sacred music, such as with 'Make Me A Channel of Your Peace', (recent popularised by 'Britain's Got Talent' sensation Susan Boyle).
The verse, chorus and bridge pop song structure
A development of this structure is to have a third section (usually termed “bridge”, but can also be called “middle eight” or “breakdown”). This section usually only occurs once in the song, and forms a contrast with the repetition of verses and choruses. A bridge will usually contrast with the rest of the material by it's harmony, rhythm and melody. A recent example of this is the song “Fix You” by Coldplay. Here’s how the structure of the song works:-
Verse 1 (in Eb)
Chorus (starting on Ab)
Verse 3 (back in Eb)
Chorus (Ab again)
Instru link Bridge (in Eb)
Chorus (Ab, finishing on Eb)
Here the bridge forms a complete contrast to what has gone before. Verses 1, 2 and 3 and the early choruses are very simply arranged with organ, piano and acoustic guitar. However, the bridge is dominated by electric guitar, drums, and bass. The material of the bridge also moves in sixteenths (sixteen semi-quavers to the bar, played on the electric guitar) creating the illusion of speed (over what is essentially a ballad). This technique is often refered to as “double timing”. Bridges can also be a point where the music “half times”. For example, if we have an up tempo song, the bridge may move so that the chords go at half the speed of the rate that they changed in the chorus. (For example, "Fill My Little World Right Up", by The Feeling – the bridge drops to half time with the words “Maybe it’s all too much …" etc.)
One more point before we leave “Fix You” – notice how the first chord of the chorus is Ab, the sub-dominant of the Eb of the verses. (The sub-dominant can be found by going up four steps on the major scale – make sure you include the first note!).
The pre-chorus is a transitional section within a song and is used to prepare us for what it is to come - the main "hook" or memorable moment found in the chorus. This pages looks at diverse examples from the writing of Oasis, John Lennon and The Feeling.
In case you missed it, this is the first in the series of three pages about song form and structure. It looks at examples of song in it's most basic form (e.g. repeated verses) and the inclusion of the "middle 8". The song structure of "Yesterday" by the Beatles is analysed and it's elaborate harmonic movement is discussed.
A page with tips on how to effectively arrange your song or composition. Some tips explore how to keep the music cohesive, whilst other tips consider how to bring in contrast when sections of the track are repeated.
If you've ever tried recording vocals within a DAW (a Digital Audio Workstation such as Cubase, Logic or Pro-tools) it's highly likely that you'll have run into some problems along the way, such as crackles and pops on the recording, or even the computer just refusing to record anything! This page seeks to address common issues found within Cubase, and also has a section at the end on good mics for recording vocals.