Understanding Song Structure (or Lyric Structure)
Learn all of the major parts of any song layout. See where each element normally goes in most popular songs and learn how to structure your own songs.
Now the best way to understand song structure fast is to take a look at many of today's popular songs as examples, and then read a little more about each song element.
Song Structure Elements of Popular Music
There are seven pieces used in songs: Intro, Verse, Chorus (and/or Refrain), Hook, Bridge, Break & Outro. Each piece (except for Intro & Outro) can be arranged differently based on your creativity, but there are common patterns most popular songs use.
Not every piece is required for each song, but you do need at least one verse and one chorus.
Popular Song Structure Examples (as of 4.22.16)
[ Song structure examples are updated from Billboard Charts and don't necessarily express my tastes in music. Also, none of the layouts you see are strictly for one song genre or the other. If you don't want to use any of the above examples, start building your own song layout. - Joshua May]
7 Steps to Understanding Song Structure
(in order of importance)
- What is a Chorus? What’s a Refrain? Lyrically? Musically?
- The chorus is the part of your song listeners will judge first.
- 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.
- 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.
What's your favorite song right now? Post in the comments. Bookmark this page for more song structure examples in the future (i'm also working on an archive of old examples), and share with aspiring songwriters.