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 songs for the best expression of your creativity and emotion.
Now the quickest way to understand song structure is to learn a little about each song element, take a look at the latest examples, and then jump right into writing your next song by following simple steps.
What is Song Structure?
(Elements of Today's Song)
A song's structure is a song's blueprint; the sections arranged that best expresses the songwriter's creativity and feelings. It's also called song form. The eight song sections are: Intro, Verse, Refrain, Chorus, Hook, Bridge, Break & Outro.
Each part (except for Intro & Outro) can be swapped and arranged differently in your song based on your creativity, but below is the most common song form all of today's layouts develop from:
Chorus (or Refrain)
Chorus (or Refrain)
Chorus (or Refrain)
Most of today's song structures have evolved from this layout, having different lengths, tempos and time signatures spread across sections of the song, to set each apart from the tens of thousands of other songs published each year competing for our attention.
Modern songs are also uniquely structured based on different music genres and different emotions, to spark certain feelings in the heart of the listener when they hear it.
So it's important to know which layouts work for the type of songs you want to write, to emotionally connect with people the right way. But before you choose a layout, first you need to...
Understand The 8 Parts to a Song's Structure
- 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: What’s 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.
Not every part is required in each song you write, but every song needs at least one verse, refrain or chorus (otherwise it isn't a song).
After you understand the parts of structure, look at the layouts below for the latest song structure examples from today's popular songs.
Each song structure example shows...
- "Layout" [the song structure elements/sections used in the song]
- The number of "Bars" in each section [a bar is a "Measure(ment)" of beats]
- The song's "Timing" [the # of beats in each bar]
- "Position" [moment in the song where each section starts]
- Target emotion of the song [the feelings the song expresses to listeners]
- Artist, song genre and YouTube link.
If you don't like the songs posted above that's perfectly ok. This section is regularly updated with new examples from songs across the most popular music genres, so check back often for a layout you may like.
Or if you're ready to master the song structure of hit songs, click the green button.
What's your favorite song right now? Post in the comments below and I'll add it to the song structure vault. Bookmark this page and share it with other aspiring songwriters.