How to Create the Perfect Structure For Your Songs

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Some people have a knack for song structure. Taylor Swift, for example, began by writing poetry as a child. After teaching herself to play the guitar she began putting her poems to music, structuring them as songs. Of course, not everyone has Taylor’s innate musical skills. At the same time, you don’t need to attend college and earn a music degree or take years of lessons to learn the basics of how to create the perfect structure for your songs.

What does song structure actually mean? Structure refers to the way the sections of the song are arranged. Structure gives the song its form and optimizes the emotional or musical impact. Different genres of music have different structure. For example, a symphony has a different structure that a pop song. An R&B ballad has a different structure than a rap. So the type of genre you write in will affect the ultimate structure of your song.

Typically, songs employ repetition to make them catchy and to emphasize the song’s emotional point. Structure is also used to enhance the story telling element of a song, making the listener want to hear what’s coming next.

Before you can decide on the structure of your song, you need to know the components to use.

The Introduction: Usually an instrumental using chords from the verse or chorus but famous lyricists like George Gershwin regularly started his compositions with a sung intro.

Verse: Usually contains four to 8 chords. In songwriting terms, the story of the song is told through the verses.

Chorus: Also called the refrain, the chorus is also usually four to eight chords and has a primary musical phrase which is repeated. In Red Hot Chili Peppers’ “Dani California,” the refrain is:

California rest in peace
Simultaneous release
California show your teeth
She’s my priestess, I’m your priest

The chorus as a distinctly different musical dynamic that the verses. In songwriting terms, this is the emotional center of the song. Typically, a phrase from the chorus is what people remember.

Bridge: The bridge is a musical connection between the verses and the chorus of a song. It can be used to smooth the transition between key or tempo changes, making the song have a smoother flow.

Middle 8: A musical or lyrical interlude that can prevent a song from seeming monotonous or to add a different emotional element.

Outro: The “bow out” of a song. Often it’s just a reiteration of the verse or chorus but can be totally unique. The elements of structure are just a guideline. How you use them is based on your talent and artistic vision.

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