Songwriting Principle No. 7: What Songwriters Need to Know About Verse and Chorus Writing

Not all songs, you will know, use a verse melody that differs from the chorus melody. When you use the same melody for both, you need to be careful abouthow to make them somehow different. Songwriting Principle 4 dealt with that. But if your verse and chorus are different, what do you do to make sure that one leads sensibly into the next?

There are two things to consider when making the verse lead properly into a chorus, and it forms Songwriting Principle No. 7:

A) A verse can use text that is narrative and inconclusive, with predominantly fragile chord progressions;
B) A chorus can use text that is reflective and draws conclusions, and use stronger chord progressions.

narrative text is one that tells the story, that gives the facts and explains to the listener essentially what the song is about. The fragile progressions (see. p. 84 of “The Essential Secrets of Songwriting“) will complement this kind of lyric. A reflective lyric is one that displays to the listener how the songwriter feels,and strong progressions are great for accompanying this.

Beyond this, the other aspect to consider is, of course, the structure of the melody itself. A verse melody should be placed lower in the singer’s range, and build upward during the latter half. The chorus melody should be placed higher, and should probably use more of the tonic (key) note, particularly toward the end of that melody. This allows for the proper building of energy throughout your song. It also ensures a nice “ebb and flow” of the energy of the entire song, with the general direction upward. (See Songwriting Principle No. 2 below).

If you want to read more about these songwriting principles, “The Essential Secrets of Songwriting” describes them all in full detail. It uses examples from dozens and dozens of songs from the past fifty years as samples of how to write great tunes. Following the example of professional songwriters is what you need to get your songs really cooking! This e-book is one of a suite of 4 great songwriting e-books designed to take your songs from drab to excellent! Click here to read more.


-Gary Ewer, from “The Essential Secrets of Songwriting” website

Posted in Melody, music, songwriting.

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