What is (it)? Understanding Song Structure w/Out the Theory (And The #1 Way to Master It).

Preparing to write lyrics - Understanding lyric structure (song structure)Just what the heck is song structure!? And why do you need to master it?

Deep down you already know the answer to these questions. Yeah you do! You didnít find this page by accident.

Ranked as one of the TOP pages on Google for the subject, I KNOW no one just suddenly thinks "oh I wonder what song structure is". No, only a chosen few passionate to learn about songwriting are lead here.

 

This means one thing: You donít want to write songs just for you; just for funÖyou want to write songs that not only don't suck, but that are amazing!

You want to write songs that other people love; songs they adore that could be "hits" or classics one day. Songwriting isnít just a hobby for you.

You dream of becoming a professional songwriter one day (SHH! Donít say that out loud! Your secretís safe with me).

My point is, youíre not here by accident.

 

You need structure. You know that without a guide to follow youíll make mistakes. And because a song is also an expression of your personal feelings and creativity, youíre a little self-conscious when you think about trying...you donít want to write a song that everyone hates.

So youíre also here to build your confidence as a songwriter.

On this page youíll learn all of the major parts of any song layout. Learn where each section normally goes in todayís songs and learn the #1 way to master structure.

unless you read this whole post.

 

How to Channel an Ocean of Creativity

Imagine you suddenly finding yourself floating neck-deep down a river.

The sound of the rushing water is deafening as waves knock you through its narrow choppy channel; trees speeding by as youíre tossed about.

Thereís little you need to do to keep moving forward. Thereís little you CAN do to stop your momentum. You realize that wherever youíre going youíre guaranteed to get there very soon.

*SPLASH!!*

 

Before you know it, youíre thrust out into an open ocean. Thereís silence...nothing but the faint sloshing of your body in the water.

Your movement slows down to a barely noticeable crawl.

The water no longer seems to have a purpose. Itís just there, all around you. Stagnant. All momentum is gone. And while youíre completely free to swim anywhere you want...

...Thereís no path to follow anymore.

 

Which way do you go? What do you do now?

This illustration reveals the reason why structure is SO IMPORTANT for your songs. Your mind is a vast ocean of ideas; RAW creative power! But if itís not channeled, you wonít pick up any momentum and you wonít go anywhere.

And when that happens your creativity drowns.

 

You wonít be able to channel it into a hit song, much less a song with any meaning, unless you have structure.

A song's structure is a song's blueprint; the sections arranged in such a way that best expresses the songwriter's creativity and feelings. It's also called song form.

 

There are eight sections in a song: Intro, Verse, Refrain, Chorus, Hook, Bridge, Break and Outro. Each part (except for Intro & Outro) can be swapped and arranged differently in your song.

Youíre free to take your song in any direction you want. Itís an open ocean.

But each genre has a common structure it follows in todayís music that channels a songwriterís creative juices into a rushing river...

...building more and more momentum until...

*SPLASH!!* Success; your great song almost writing itself.

All you have to do is master song structure and your creativity will guide you the rest of the way to make a great song that people will fall in love with. But how do you do that? Well keep reading.

The Granddaddy of them allÖ

The most common song form all of today's layouts grew from is "ABABCB". But I feel it makes more sense to see the pattern this way:

Verse
Chorus (or Refrain)
Verse
Chorus (or Refrain)
Bridge
Chorus (or Refrain)

Did you catch it? I just shared the #1 way to master song structure! But if you missed it donít worry, Iíll explain.

Most of today's song structures are "grandkids" of this layout, with different lengths, tempos and time signatures spread across sections of the track.

Theyíre structured based on music genre and/or on the special feeling you want to share with your audience. Click the examples below to see what I mean.

 

Latest Song Structure Examples as of 9.8.16
(Click layout card for larger image)

 


 

 

 

See how each layout is different? When you first look at these examples there doesnít seem to be a pattern, but there IS one. Trust me.

...And itís exactly why these songs are hits, yes; even the ones in this list you think are pretty crappy. Theyíre still hits. Itís all because of the special structure they use.

It takes me roughly 15 minutes to map each song and update this section for you because I analyze each track at least 3-5 times.

 

And that (by the way) is how you learn song structure: by studying songs in your favorite music genre, and not just listening to them for entertainment.

But the #1 way to master structure is by *seeing* structure (yeah literally with your eyes) while hearing the song, and then by copying what you see as a blueprint for practice.

Let me show you...

 

Which makes more sense to you?

Seeing "ABABCB", or seeing this:

Verse
Chorus (or Refrain)
Verse
Chorus (or Refrain)
Bridge
Chorus (or Refrain)

It's the same structure, but the second version makes more sense doesnít it? Itís not just letters that donít have any real meaning. But letís go a step further...

Now which one makes more sense to you? Seeing something like this:

Verse
Chorus (or Refrain)
Verse
Chorus (or Refrain)
Bridge
Chorus (or Refrain)

Or seeing this (click image):

With sections color-coded and adjusted for size you can visualize the patterns; see the structure. So is it even a contest which version helps you to understand a song's structure the best?

Itís hard to recognize song structure just by listening to a song. And itís just as hard to learn how to write songs simply by studying song form and music theory ("ABABCB", etc.).

But when you can use your EYES to see the sections of a song, while using your EARS to listen to it, you can understand song structure much faster.

Thatís the secret! Iíd explain the science behind why it works but itíd just bore you, but the TL;DR version is, "you're combining visual and auditory learning so that what you're studying makes more sense."

And when you combine that with simple explanations and instructions, you're GUARANTEED to master song structure.

So if you've read enough
...there are two more sections left to read that I suggest you finish.

 

Whatís your favorite music genre?

Now the best way to use this technique is to study the type of songs you really want to write.

It doesn't make sense to study the structures of rock songs if you want to make dance (house) music, or country songs if you want to write hip-hop songs (even though there are plenty of cross-over songs these days).

You must follow the right song layout to improve your songwriting skill for that style of music.

Now I have a growing library full of song structure visuals like the example above that I only let members of my songwriting training group use to master song structure.

I spent 2 years developing my visual library, and because it's takes me time to analyzing each hit song, I can only allow seriously dedicated songwriters to use it. It's what I use for blueprinting new songs I write (if you're a member looking for the library, click here).

...but you don't have to use my library to use this technique. All you have to do is (1st) understand how to recognize each section of a song when you hear it, and then (2nd) learn how to count each section in bars, and you'll be able to visually map-out any song you study just like me.

 

Now That You Know the secret, Youíre Ready to Master Song Structure in 4 Steps:

  1. Bookmark this site now because youíll need to return to it later. Thereís far too much to study in one visit.

     
  2. Use the links below to read more about *each section* of a song to learn to recognize them when you listen. DO NOT SKIP ANY SECTION! Itís preparation.

    What is a verse of a song? - The verse is the section of your song that tells your story. Read the history of the song verse and learn how to structure your verses.

    Chorus vs. Refrain: Whatís the difference between them? Know what each element is and how both are important parts of your song.

    Bridge Song Structure (Middle 8) - This is the section of your song that gives your audience time to reflect on your story. They usually occur in the middle of songs.

    What are breaks? - A break is a brief "pause" for the core melody within a song. It may include a solo or drum interlude or silence.

    What is a Hook? - It's a mnemonic tool that catches a listener's attention to help them remember a certain refrain, beat and/or melody.

    Intro "How To" - Most of today's songs have an intro in one form or another. And if you're trying to make a hit song there are some rules I suggest you keep in mind.

    Outro - This page explains the song Outro and whether or not you should add them to your song's structure. Go with your artistic gut as a songwriter.

     
  3. ONLY AFTER YOU COMPLETE STEP 2click here and register to join my songwriting training group.

     
  4. Dozens sign up each month so check your emails daily, because when I contact you, Iíll show you how to:

Donít worry. Iíll treat you as if youíre just starting out. I'll make it really fun & easy, and give simple instructions with absolutely no music theory (or very little if it can't be helped).

I'm doing this so I can find new talent for my music business. But Iím just one guy and canít train too many at once, so sign up now to hold your place in line.

 

IMPORTANT: Registration is private and painless. But you gotta click the confirmation button in the auto-email sent to you or you won't be registered!

The positive response so far has been ridiculous in the short time I started this training so Iíll have to remove the link soon before it gets to be too much for me to handle.

Now's the moment of truth. Will you take the next step?

Talk to you soon!

- Jeezy



What's your favorite song right now? Post in the comments below and I'll add it to my song structure library. Share this page with other aspiring songwriters.