Songwriting on piano and guitar

Songwriting From the Chorus to the Verse

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If you write in the pop genres, you probably make good use of improvisation, whether it’s by yourself or with your band. One idea can often lead to another, and so on-the-spot experimenting will usually give you lots of good ideas.

But if you find it hard to come up with an entire song that way, don’t forget that it’s quite possible to simply concentrate on chorus and ignore whatever the rest of the song will eventually be. In other words, work out the chorus without knowing at all what you might do for a verse that leads into it.

Songwriting by fixating on the chorus is a good idea because the chorus is usually a self-contained musical unit that doesn’t need the verse to help it make sense. Get that working, and then you can turn your attention to the verse.

The Chorus-First Benefit

There is one good benefit to working out the chorus first, and it’s this: once you know what the chorus is going to be, you can write a verse that leads powerfully and effectively into that chorus.

Since you know what the basic vocal range of your chorus is, you can purposely write the verse to be lower than that. You can also create a chord progression that partners well with the chorus. If you’re not sure how to do that, please read my blog article “Creating Verse and Chorus Progressions That Work” from last year.

So improvising your way to a new song by moving in order from intro to verse to chorus, etc., is great when it works. But if you feel stuck, try starting with the part of the song that’s got the hooky bit — the chorus. It gives you something solid you can build the rest of the song on.


Gary EwerWritten by Gary Ewer. Follow Gary on Twitter.

How to Harmonize a Melody, 2nd ed.If you’ve got a melody, but don’t know how to add chords to it, you need to read “How to Harmonize a Melody.” It will show you, with sound samples, a clear step-by-step for adding chords that will make your melody sound great.

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