Master Song Structure
(Crack The #1 Secret To Hit Songwriting In 2018)
If you're serious about songwriting then you NEED to master song structure.
Well if you want to become a professional songwriter in 2018 it's more important than ever to excel at this specific step in the songwriting process.
There are HUNDREDS of motivated songwriters just like you working hard to achieve the same dream you have, and it's getting more competitive each year.
So in this article you're going to learn what song structure is and what you need to do to master it, cracking the #1 secret to writing a hit song.
Let's get started.
What Is Song Structure?
Song Structure is a song's blueprint; repeatable sections arranged in such a way that best expresses a songwriter's thoughts and feelings during the songwriting process.
There are 8 sections in a song:
- Verse What is a verse? The verse is the section of your song that
tells your story. How many verses should you have in your song? We'll come back to this question a little later.
- Chorus & Refrain I've listed these two sections together because
they're closely related. But
they're both uniquely different. Click the link to learn what each is and how both are important parts of your song.
- Bridge What is a Bridge of a song? This is the section of your song that gives your audience time to
reflect on your story. They usually occur in the middle of a song.
- Hook A hook is a mnemonic tool that catches your audience's attention to
help them remember a certain refrain, beat and/or melody.
- Break A break is a brief "pause" from the core melody within your song. It may include a solo or drum interlude or
may simply be a break from singing or rapping your lyrics.
- Intro - 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 Click this page to read more about this section and whether or not you should add them to your song.
Each section (except for Intro & Outro) can be arranged differently depending on your genre of music and style of storytelling.
The most basic structure of a song is "verse-chorus", but the most commonly used structure is "verse-chorus-verse-chorus-bridge-chorus" or "ABABCB".
The specific song structure you choose will affect how well your song is received by your audience.
It's the difference between your audiences thinking your song sucks versus them adoring your song as a classic or "something familiar" (I'll explain what I mean by this later in this article).
Channel An Ocean Of Creativity
Now let's take a step back from songwriting for just a second.
Imagine suddenly finding yourself floating neck-deep down a narrow river.
The sound of the rushing water is deafening as waves carry you through its narrow choppy channel; trees speeding by as you're tossed around.
Can you see it?
There's little you need to do to keep moving forward. Actually there's little you CAN do to stop your momentum.
You realize that wherever you're going you're guaranteed to get there in a hurry.
Before you know it, you're thrust into an open ocean. There's 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. It's just lifeless, all around you.
All of your momentum is gone. And while you're completely free to swim anywhere you want...
...There's no path to follow.
Which Way Do You Go (what do you do now)?
This short illustration shows why structure is SO important, not just to set you apart from other aspiring songwriters, but for the very reason you want to be one.
Your mind is a vast ocean of ideas; raw creative power! But you'll lose momentum if you don't have structure to carry you along. It's the boundary that keeps you focused.
Without it you'll suffer writer's block and you won't make any progress.
And if that happens enough times your passion for songwriting eventually drowns, and there's nothing more tragic musically.
So structure is very important, not just for hits, but also for completing your songwriting projects.
How Do You Write A Good Song?
There are two paths take when writing a song, depending on what type of artist you are at heart:
- Poet's Path - typically drawing inspiration from something that's on your heart (internal inspiration)
- Musician's Path - Letting sounds or melodies you hear in the world inspire your songwriting (external inspiration)
But no matter which path you take or music genre you're writing for, the songwriting process is the same:
- Channel Your Inspiration
- Brainstorm on a good idea (not every topic makes for a good song)
- Develop your story (what do you hope to express to your audience?)
- Setup a theme for your song
- Arrange your words poetically (rhyme, rhythm, metaphors, etc)
- Choose the best song structure for your genre and style of music
- Arrange your melody & lyric based on the structure you chose
Let's focused on step six since it's the topic of this article.
The #1 secret of writing a hit song is to structure your song just like other hit songs in your music genre!
Remember when I said your audience will adore your song as a classic or "something familiar"? Well that's because your song actually WILL BE something they're already familiar with.
Yes it's true that music is always evolving and that each song is unique, but every song you hear today was inspired by a great song written before it.
It may surprise you to read this but there's nothing new when it comes to songwriting.
So when Jay-Z, Ne-Yo, Adele, Katy Perry and other artists need to write good songs they get inspired by many of the same hits we love, and then follow the same formulas for those hits, repeating what already works.
...or they collaborate with other songwriters who've written many of today's hits.
What makes a hit song is its repeatable formula, but what makes a song unique is your one-of-kind character, point of view and voice.
So How Do You Structure Your Song
(how do you master this secret)?
Understanding the secret to hit songwriting is the easy part; it's just duplicating what already works. But how do we take advantage of this knowledge?
Unfortunately you can't collaborate with famous songwriter's just yet not until you become famous yourself.
But there IS a way for you to study their songs and quickly duplicate their winning formulas.
Which makes more sense to you? Seeing "ABABCB", or seeing this:
Chorus (or Refrain)
Chorus (or Refrain)
Chorus (or Refrain)
Both show the same exact song form, but the second version makes more sense doesn't it? You'll only ever see "AB" letter format in music theory class.
But let's go a step further, because in 2018 we're beyond even the old school "verse-chorus" format. We have the power of technology to help us understand so much more about the songs we love.
Now which format makes more sense to you? Again, seeing this:
Chorus (or Refrain)
Chorus (or Refrain)
Chorus (or Refrain)
Or seeing this?
This is the evolved way of looking at song structure, with different colors and sizes for each song section displayed and synchronized to the audio track to help you clearly recognize the song's repeatable pattern.
I call this format "Visualized Song Structure" (tm lol).
If you're just beginning to learn how to write songs it can be difficult figuring out the layout of a song just by listening to it without years of study either as a student or professional.
And much less are you able to use a song as a blueprint.
But when you can visualize the layout of a song, seeing how each section relates to the next while listening to the track in real time, you can understand how the song was put together almost immediately.
There's a science behind why this works but the TL;DR version is you're triggering the audio and visual areas of your brain so that what you're studying makes more sense.
It's the same principle behind educational video games like Rocksmith.
This is how you'll master song structure and crack the secret of hit songwriting in 2018. Just follow the visualized structure of songs that inspire you, and then duplicate their layouts.
So here's how to structure your song for today's music:
- Take your developed lyric content and sort each stanza into story groups
- Depending on how many stanzas you have, rank each group from best lines to worse
- Review popular songs in your genre that have a similar style as
yours. Pay special attention to sections that repeat to learn their patterns
- Choose the song you'll use as your blueprint. Starting with either verse or chorus (since they're the
heart of any song), mold your section to match the lyrical delivery of the blueprint song.
- Fit your melody to the section you just developed. If you don't have a melody
just use the blueprint song's melody for now. (You or a composer can develop
- Work on the next most important section (again, either verse or chorus), following the same
steps. First fit your lyric to the section and then your melody.
- Follow the same steps for your bridge (if your blueprint song has one), and then for your Intro, Outro and any Breaks.
How Many Verses Should Be In Your Song?
You should add as many verses as you find in your blueprint song. Remember, there's nothing new under the sun.
You're not trying to reinvent songwriting. You're simply using the same method every other professional songwriter uses to express YOUR unique thoughts and feelings.
For this reason I created a library of song structures examples to help you quickly master and duplicate popular songs using the audio/video learning strategy mentioned above.
It's called The Song Structure Vault. It took over 2 years to figure out a simple way you can visualize the winning formula of popular songs for any major song genre by watching YouTube. So just jump right in and start following the structure your blueprint song.
Here are a few screenshots of some classics added to the vault (click on image for larger screenshot):
Enter A Novice; Exit A Master.
Now that you know what song structure is and how to structure your songs, its time to dive in and give it a try!
And because you made it this far, as a FREE GIFT download the 6-step "content development" manual from my lyric writing starter guide to help you improve the verses of your structured song.
To get your free gift register your email address with my Song Structure Mailing List and I'll shoot you a download link.
Click the button below to continue.
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What's your favorite song right now? Post in the comments below.
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