3 Creative Ideas for Structuring Your Next Song

Are you hitting your target audience?The Essential Secrets of Songwriting” will show you how to get your songs’ structural problems solved.

Genesis - "I Know What I Like (In Your Wardrobe)"In most genres, songs are multi-sectional art forms that give us some version of verse, chorus, and (often) bridge formats. This kind of sectionalizing of songs ensures that listeners get to experience the contrasting of musical ideas. There’s something positive about the predictability that verse-chorus forms give us, but there’s also a danger that if your song unfolds the same way each time, your audience will know what’s going to happen before you get beyond the first minute.

So it’s a good thing to change things up once in a while. A verse-chorus format doesn’t necessarily mean that you have to start with the verse, for example.

Listed below are three suggestions for structuring a song that allows you to think beyond simple verse-chorus formats. An innovative form may be just what you’re looking for to add a measure of uniqueness to your next song.

With the structures suggested below, consider ‘A’ to be a verse, ‘B’ to be a chorus, and ‘C’ to represent a bridge, either instrumental or sung, and can be done with or without an intro. The links are to YouTube videos, which will open in a new browser window.

  1. Chorus First. (Example: The Beatles: “Lady Madonna“) Try jumping right in with the chorus, either with our without an intro. Benefit: Your song gets a shot of energy right out of the gate, since choruses tend to be more energetic than verses. Forms to try: BABABCB, BBABCABB, etc.
  2. Instrumental Solo First. (Example: Gerry Rafferty: “Baker Street“) After an intro, the song gets going with that iconic instrumental solo-chorus. Like a vocal chorus-first format, it gets the energy level pumped up and the song moving. Forms to try: See above, or: CBABAB, etc.
  3. Differing Verse Melodies. (Example: Genesis: “I Know What I Like (In Your Wardrobe“)) This isn’t very common, but if you’re looking for an extra contrasting element for your song, try a verse 2 that differs melodically from verse 1. This is a great tune from the early days (1973) of Genesis, with Peter Gabriel as lead singer. Forms to try: ABA’BCB, AA’BA’BCB, etc.

One other piece of advice: sometimes, it’s hard to think innovatively when thinking about form. If your mind keeps going back to a basic verse-chorus format, then get the song written, then try rearranging its bits in a different way.

For example, once you’ve got a basic verse-chorus-bridge song written, see what it sounds like to start with the bridge as an intro, then leap into the chorus, then verse 1. Though it may seem ultra weird to do this, you might be surprised how changing up the format results in a song that still works, while having the added benefit of the element of surprise.


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