Singer-Songwriter - Recording Studio

Opting for a Refrain Instead of a Chorus

In common usage within the pop genres, a refrain is a closing line at the end of a verse, usually used in place of a chorus. A classic example is Bob Dylan’s “The Times They Are a-Changin’”. “Chord Progression Formulas” shows you how to create dozens of great progressions practically instantly by using some powerful […]

Sam Smith - I'm Not the Only One

Creating a Verse and Chorus Over the Same Chord Progression

It sometimes amazes me how different a verse and chorus can be from each other. The classic example of this is probably Paul Simon’s “My Little Town“, which features a long meandering verse with a complex chord progression, syncopations and changing time signatures. The chorus changes character almost completely, offering a very short, catchy hook […]

Bruce Springsteen

The Importance of Balancing Section Lengths Within a Song

You’ll hear experienced songwriters and producers say that the chorus of a song should arrive before the 1-minute mark. This is particularly true of songs with moderate to quicker tempos. Slower ballads can tolerate longer verses, and so it might take a bit longer. That guideline is in place because producers like to ensure that […]

Fitting Parts Together to Create a Song

Most of the time, you write songs where all the sections (verse, chorus, etc.) are written as part of the same process. You might write a chorus hook, and then you work on a verse that will partner well with it, and so on. But you likely have bits of songs that you’ve written over […]

Taylor Swift - I Did Something Bad

Using the Verse to Power Up the Chorus Hook

For most songs, if you speak of the hook, you’re talking about the chorus, and most likely the start of the chorus. Sometimes the hooky bit might be the end of the chorus, like Jimmy Gilmer and the Fireballs’ 1963 hit “Sugar Shack”. For pop songs, the hook has been a perennially essential ingredient. Because […]

Matching a Chord Progression to the Mood and Message of Your Song

In yesterday’s post I wrote about two-chord progressions, and how a song practically never suffers from a chord progression that’s short or boring. While that’s true, it doesn’t mean that a chord progression can’t help strengthen your song’s structure. If you’re hoping to give stronger meaning to your lyrics by using more creative chords, you […]