R.E.M. Losing My Religion

Songs Without a Chorus, and How They Work

I’ve always liked R.E.M.’s “Losing My Religion,” but there’s something odd about it. Because most of its melodies and melodic fragments dwell on the 3 notes A-B-C, in the key of A minor, it sounds very much like a drone. Normally, that just doesn’t work all that well for a song; you normally want to hear […]

Starting a Song Bridge on a ii-Chord

A song’s bridge usually follows the second go-through of the chorus. And it’s a good opportunity for you temporarily to explore a new key area. That’s because by the time this part of the song happens, a listener’s musical brain is ready for something new. So a bridge will usually give you: a new melody; a new […]

Singer

How to Know If a Song Needs a Bridge

You could make a case for saying that no song needs a bridge, in the sense that there are other solutions at your disposal. Here’s what I mean by that: One of the most important characteristics of any song is contrast. Audiences need to be able to hear some difference between, say, the verse and the chorus, however […]

Sixpence None the Richer - Kiss Me

Where Should a Song’s Climactic Moment Occur?

Many songs have what could be called its “climactic moment”: a spot where musical energy seems to be at its peak. In many songs, it sits there at the beginning of the chorus (“Firework”), sometimes in the middle (“Let It Be”), and sometimes near the end. (“Wichita Lineman”). Sometimes finding that moment may not be obvious. […]

Song Form

Does a Song Need More Than Verses and a Chorus?

At a minimum, most songs these days will use a verse-chorus or verse-refrain structure. Songs might be constructed of verses and nothing else, such as Amanda McBroom’s “The Rose”, made most famous by Bette Midler. Many old 12-bar blues songs are basically a verse and nothing else, though many will use a repeating refrain to […]

Band in concert

Getting the Most Out of a Bridge Lyric

If you’ve been writing songs for a while, you’ll know that lyrics change in character as a song progresses. To generalize, you’ll notice the following: VERSE LYRICS: Verse lyrics set the stage, recount details of a story, describe characters, etc. It lays out the narrative, the storyline or general song topic. “Hooks and Riffs: How They […]