How to Successfully Join a Verse and Chorus

Sometimes it’s that moment between verse and chorus that can cause a song to die.


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Band rehearsal Do you find that there is something awkward about the way your latest song’s verse connects to the chorus? You feel that the verse is working well, but as soon as you hit the chorus, something sounds a bit off?

If the verse seems fine, try this: play the chorus twice without stopping. Does the chorus seem to work well? If so, you’ve been able to narrow down the problem: the moment of connection between verse and chorus. Song energy needs to move in a generally upward direction as it progresses from verse to chorus. The energy won’t usually move in a straight line; you’ll find that it moves constantly up and down, with a noticeable bump upward as the chorus starts.

That bump upward comes from a few things:

  1. The higher pitch of the chorus melody.
  2. More instruments.
  3. Busier backing instrumental rhythms.
  4. Longer vocal rhythms with more emotional lyrics.

But having said that, that moment of connection between verse and chorus needs to sound natural, not like it’s coming completely out of left field. If you find that something sounds somehow unsatisfying between verse and chorus, you need to look at the general characteristics of both sections, and look for ways to make them connect.

Here’s some advice you’ll want to think about when solving a faulty connection between verse and chorus:

  1. Don’t make verse and chorus instrumentations too different. Having a quiet guitar for the verse, and then grinding, distorted power chords with pounding drum kit and screaming lyrics for the chorus may be a problem. The best connections are made when instruments are added judiciously, a bit at a time. You can start adding instruments near the end of the verse to help with a better connection to the chorus.
  2. Try carrying rhythmic ideas from the verse into the chorus. If you’ve chosen an interesting syncopated rhythm for your backing instruments in the verse, see what you can do to pull those rhythmic ideas into the chorus. It helps make both sections sound like they’re communicating with each other.
  3. Consider adding a pre-chorus. Some reasons a pre-chorus might work are:
    1. Your verse melody is very short (4 to 8 bars long).
    2. Your verse chord progression is very simple, using 1 or 2 chords.
    3. Your verse melody is pitched far below your chorus melody.
  4. Try moving from Verse 1 immediately to Verse 2 before giving a chorus. You might try this if your melody is short, as an alternative to adding a pre-chorus.
  5. Consider a key change between verse and chorus. You might try this if you find that song energy is dying once you reach the chorus. In that case, try moving the chorus up a minor 3rd. So if your song is in G major, try to work out your chorus to be in Bb major.

Written by Gary Ewer, from “The Essential Secrets of Songwriting” website
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  1. What I have done in one song is actually move down rather than up. Why? Because I have a limited vocal range and this allows me to come back to the end chorus/coda singing higher but not as high as I would need to if I had changed to a higher key. if that makes sense?

    • Yes, absolutely, that’s actually a very smart idea. If you know that you’re going to hit your highest notes later in the chorus, it makes a lot of sense to start the chorus a bit lower, allowing those higher notes to be within your vocal range.


      • Thanks, it works well. I actually use the bridge to take me into the lowered chorus before moving up into the original key for the out chorus/coda. BTW your web site and articles are very good. Thanks for your extremely useful content. I have purchased you eBooks as well.

  2. Listening to many many demos from learning amauture writers has
    given me a massive insight to the points Gary has mentioned here.

    One of the recurring problems is not knowing whats expected in
    a chorus lyrically ..

    Briefly The Chorus should be a Summary of what goes on in each verse.
    Very little if any new information is wanted in the chorus, that’s the reason
    we write verses and bridges.

    Reiterate what you are saying in the verses without the fine detail
    remembering your chorus must suit the story lines of the verses.
    Study all great Hit songs and you will see my point.
    above all make the melody memorable, and make sure you hit them
    with your Hook however simple or long it may be.
    Of course there is more to it thats why you need to buy Gary Ewers
    marvellous books.
    on the art of great songwriting

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