The next step after writing a good 8 bars of music is to figure out where in your song it really belongs.
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Does it frustrate you that you seem to be easily able to compose one 8-bar section of a song, but the rest is incredibly hard to write? Do you have the makings of a good verse or chorus, but just don’t know what to do next?
That kind of songwriting block happens if you’re not clear on what the major differences between verses, choruses and bridges are. Sorting that out means that coming up with an entire song becomes a lot easier.
Let’s take a quick look at the significant distinctions between the various song sections:
- Establishes the key, tempo, instrumentation and mood of the song.
- Pulls the listener into the music, so it needs to be interesting and make the audience curious.
- Needs to sit somewhat low in the singer’s range (relative to the chorus).
- Needs to describe people, events and situations, and keep emotions to a minimum (relative to the chorus).
- Needs to have a melody that connects somewhat smoothly to the chorus.
- Tends to use chord progressions that are longer than the chorus, and take the listener on a bit of a musical voyage.
- Usually makes use of a smaller instrumentation (relative to the chorus).
- Can tolerate a melody that “wanders” a bit in a bid to tell the story.
- Often makes great use of a short melodic/rhythmic hook.
- Chord progression(s) tend to be shorter and tonally stronger than the verse progression(s).
- Chord progressions tend to point to the tonic note and chord as being significant goals of the musical phrases.
- Lyrics are usually emotional in nature.
- Often incorporates a climactic moment, often toward the end of the melody, but sometimes appearing right away at the beginning.
- Allows for a chord progression that moves away from the original key.
- Tends to build song energy.
- Finishes the lyric, and provides “closure”.
- Sets up a satisfying return to the chorus.
Now back to the problem: you find that you get one great idea for a part of your song, but can’t seem to complete the entire song. Your first step should be to identify and categorize what you’ve written. If you find that your bit of song describes a story, you’ve probably got the makings of a great verse.
With that in mind, you simply need to create a chorus that does several things: uses a melody that sits higher than the verse you’ve written, use shorter, stronger progressions, and use a lyric that is more emotional than descriptive.
If your bit of melody is high in pitch with emotional lyrics, you’ve probably got the makings of a good chorus melody. So how do you go about making a verse melody that works with it? Create a verse lyric that describes why someone would have those emotions. Create a verse melody that is lower in pitch than the one you’ve created, and you should start seeing everything else fall into place.
Many times, songwriter’s block happens when you’ve mis-identified something you thought was going to be your chorus, when it really should be a verse. Once you get your song fragment properly identified, the rest of the song becomes a lot easier to write.
Written by Gary Ewer. Follow on Twitter.
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