Do you ever feel that your chorus has problems, but no matter what you do you can’t seem to get it to work? When that happens, the problem often seems to be that the chorus doesn’t sound like a chorus. You expect a certain kind of musical punch to come from a chorus, but figuring out why you’re not getting that punch can be tricky.
I encountered this very problem with a song I’ve been working on recently. I thought I had a good chorus idea, so I started working on it, but couldn’t seem to get it to stand out. The chorus just seemed to be lacking something.
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The cause of the problem became clear once I switched my attention to writing a verse: it suddenly occurred to me that the chorus I had been working on made a better verse. Once I changed my way of thinking, and considered my chorus to be a verse, I immediately came up with ideas for an even better chorus.
I think you’ll find that that’s not unusual; many songwriters have experienced it. In my case, the reason my chorus wasn’t working well seemed to be:
- The rhythms in the melody line were quite busy and intricate.
- The melody lacked a high point.
So I created a new chorus melody, one that used simpler, longer rhythmic values and a higher climactic moment. It seemed to do the trick.
So here’s something for you to think about as you work on your next song. Let’s say you’ve written your chorus first, and you’re ready to start working on a verse that leads into it. Before you do that, consider this as a possibility: Imagine that the chorus you’ve just written is really a verse. Can you think of a new chorus that takes your song to even greater highs than this chorus?
The answer might be an immediate “no”, and you’re completely fine to start crafting a verse that leads well into this chorus. But you might find that by creating a chorus melody that sits even higher than the one you just wrote, and uses longer, simpler rhythmic values, that that bit you thought was your chorus is going to work brilliantly as a verse.
In most songs, when you compare the verse to the chorus, you should see:
- the verse sits lower in pitch than the chorus;
- the verse uses quicker, more rhythmically active notes;
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