Songwriter Exercise 4 - Choose Your Songwriting Sections
Decide the Unique Layout of Your Next Song
"Step 1: Choose the Songwriting Sections to be in your next
Which sections are best to have in your
Each songwriter is different...and each song
is different. But what every song has in common is a unique
layout. As a songwriter, your next task is to figure out which
layout is the best for expressing your target emotion to your
At this point, think of yourself not as a
songwriter, but as a movie director or editor - arranging each
piece of your film in the best order to give your listeners the
best experience in the short time you hold their attention.
And any experienced film-maker would tell you
that the difference between a great movie and a terrible one
lies in it's editing; it's layout...but enough about movies.
There are 7 sections to include in any song's
layout, and each element supports your lyrics, music and
target emotion in one way or another.
Below are brief instructions for each section you
choose to include in your next song.
This exercise is more about "choosing" on your song's section
than about development, so you're not obligated to develop
anything right now.
So which sections are in your song?
- "Not Necessary, But Very Effective"
Here's your opportunity to make a great first
impression! The Intro is a "sample" or "trailer" of your
song. As listeners listen through this section, they decide
whether or not they're interested enough to listen to the rest
of your song. If you choose to include an Intro section, use it
to tease and entice the listener's ear.
Read the rules on writing your Intro.
Do you have any ideas as to how your music
will sound in this section? What about your lyrics?
- "At lease One..."
Here's where you tell your story! The
Verse is where your story is shared with the listener.
Traditionally, there was at lease one verse in every song, and
that verse was as long or short as the songwriter chose. Having
3 verses in a 3:30sec song is the norm for today's song since
there's such a huge selection of songs to listen to, so you can
only hold your listener's attention for a short time.
For some songwriters, the Verse is the
first section they work on.
Read the rules on developing your Verse.
- "Where Everything Comes Together."
What's the point (or overall message) of your
song? The Chorus is the summary of your song's story, and
the first section your listeners will remember...if they like
your song. For your lyrics, your chorus summarizes your verses.
For your music, your chorus is the song’s climax (or high point)
where every musical element - that you’ve included in your song
- is heard.
For other songwriters, the Chorus is the
first section they work on.
Read the rules on developing your Chorus.
Do you think you'll want to develop your
- "Wow! That's Catchy!"
Ever had a song stuck in your head? Well
the Hook is both the "catchy music element" and "clever lyrical
phrase" that repeats over and over throughout your song to make
it more memorable. It’s a tool that pulls or latches onto a
listener's sub-consciousness to help them remember your song.
Hooks can be placed all throughout your song, so they're not
really "songwriting sections" per say.
Imagine the worst song you ever heard...one that
everyone else loved so passionately. Why did they love it so
much? Is there something memorable about it? Something that just
gets stuck in your memory?
Read the rules on developing your Hook.
Can you think of a clever lyrical phrase
you'd like to repeat in your lyrics? What about a simple, catchy
- "Take a Breather."
Give your audience a chance to rest. The
Break is a pause from a song's normal "flow". Breaks are meant
to break your listener's concentration, so as to not get bored
with the song. Breaks make your song more exciting because
they're usually "surprising" (imagine having a floor suddenly
disappear from under you - and then reappear - as you walk
across...like in a house of horrors at an amusement park).
Breaks; the Rules.
You can add Breaks to your song after it is developed.
- "Get Over The Hump"
Help your listeners find their way home!
The Bridge is the section where listeners reflect on the outcome
of your song's story. Lyrically, a bridge can be used to “break”
or introduce a new rhythmic style. Musically, a bridge can
introduce a new melody to your song. Think of a bridge as an
“arc” or plot twist of a movie, where everything changes.
Read the rules on developing your Bridge.
- "Tying off Loose Ends...or Not."
Either leave them wanting more or slowly add
satisfaction. The Outro is the end section of your song. I
think of your Outro as a mirror to your intro. In other words,
you want to use your Outro to tell listeners “well…that was my
story!” But in many cases - as with many of today's songs - your
Outro can be used to introduce another song you've completed.
Read the rules on developing your Outro.
Usually Outros are added to the end of songs to
make one final, definitive "tug" on your target emotion even as
the song ends. And because most Outros mirror a song's Intro,
Outros can also create a "looping effect" that compels the
listener to play the song again.
"Step 2: Choose your 'Verse' or 'Chorus' as the main section
to develop your themes."
Your next step is to decide which section [Verse
or Chorus] will lead your song's development; which section will
be the starting point for writing all other sections.
A song's theme is another way of saying a song's
"style" or "delivery pattern", that's repeated throughout the
song until it ends. There are two themes (patterns) that exist
within every song:
Rhythmic Theme -
Repeating a vocal delivery of your song's lyrics (how lyrics
are sung) .
Melodic Theme -
Repeating melody pattern of your song's music in
In each theme, there’s one main songwriting
section from which all other sections are developed. Let's take
your song's main verse, for example.
Your lines have a unique "vocal delivery"
(there's a special way you'd like to sing them). A Rhythmic
Theme is created if you choose to reuse the same vocal delivery
pattern in your song's 2nd verse...repeating the 1st verse's
So which section will lead your
song? Your Verse or Chorus?
If you have multiple Verses or Choruses in your
song, pick a one as your main section from which to build the
lest of your song.
From this point forward, we'll use the next
four (4) songwriter exercises to develop one (1)
section of your song, starting with your Lead Section.
Afterwards, the last two (2) songwriter exercises will walk
through developing your remaining songwriting sections.
Let's continue with your next songwriter
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