In this section you'll learn the basics to all of the major parts of any song layout. You'll learn where each element normally goes in your song structure and the rules (or more like guidelines) to follow to help you start writing your own songs.
By the way, these lessons are meant to give you a basic understanding of song structure so you can start writing lyrics & songs today! For a more thorough course on music theory, I highly suggest you look into some of the great art & music colleges and courses advertised on pages across web.
Lyric Structure vs. Song Structure...is there a difference?
There's very little difference between the words "lyric structure" and "song structure". Both are just ways of describing a song's layout or blueprint, but from different points of view. Describing it as a "lyric structure" is typically reserved for lyric writers (with more of a focus on the words, poetry, etc), while describing it as a "song structure" often takes the entire production into account (lyric & music elements).
Now music doesn't always need a structure to follow, but songs definitely do since in them lyrics are usually sung to express ideas and emotions.
The Elements of Song Structure for Popular music
The seven major elements of any song layout are: Intro, Verse, Chorus (Refrain), Hook, Bridge, Break and Outro. Each of these elements can be arranged into different formats depending on your artistic preference, but there are common formats most pop songs follow...kind of like "tried & true" formulas.
Also, with exception to Verses and Choruses, not every element is required for each song (as you'll soon see). However, you need at least one verse and one chorus in your song (even if they don't repeat).
Now the best way to truly understand the elements of a lyric / song structures is to review each element one at a time using some of today's popular songs as examples. So let's begin with:
- What are intros? - 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.
- What are Verses? - It doesn't matter what you write about in your verses. Here are a few rules to keep in mind as you're structuring your song.
- 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 Hook? - It's a mnemonic tool that catches a listener's attention to help them remember a certain refrain, beat and/or melody.
- What is a Bridge (Middle 8)?
- It's 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 are outros? This page explains song outros and whether or not you should add them to your song's structure. Go with your artistic gut as a songwriter.
Choose your unique song structure
The Most Basic Song layout - ABA (Verse - Chorus - Verse)
This is the simplest structure for a writing a song. Your open with a verse, lead into your chorus, and follow that by another verse. You can then repeat the pattern or alter the layout by adding another chorus to end the song.
32-bar Song Layout - AABA (Verse - Verse - Bridge - Verse)
This is called a "32-bar" layout since the sections of most common songs are 8 bars long. You don't have to worry about what "bars" are for now since that goes into more advance study of music. But just know your song can be structured by starting with two verse, followed by a bridge, and ending with a final verse.
Advanced Song Layouts
You can even combine the above layouts for more advanced song structure. The following are just a few more popular song layouts found in today's music.
Now it's your turn...
Listen to several of your favorite songs and try to pick out their song structures for more practice, and then pick a layout to write your song. But regardless of the layout you choose, remember you MUST stay true to your creativity above all. Often times sticking too strongly to a song structure can hurt the creative process.
I'm curious...what's your favorite song right now? Feel free to post in the comments. Then when you're ready, continue your lyric writing lessons, learning about song intros. If you like this page, bookmark & share it! If it wasn't at all what you thought it'd be, keep searching! I know you'll find what you're looking for.