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Section Arrangement
Other Structures

Song forms or formats make your songs sound professional.
Any of these rules can be broken.

INTRO   I    
It's often a version of the chorus.  
It grabs the listener, and shows what's coming.   
Pop intros are 12 seconds or less.

It tells the story, sets the mood and introduces patterns.. 
Each verse expands the story. 
Each verse melody is the same, except for variations to make lyrics fit.

PRE-CHORUS   PC    or channel
An optional section before the chorus.
It provides fresh lyrics and chords. 
It’s no more than 8 measures long.
It contains the same words each time around. 
If the song is propelled to the chorus without it, you don’t need it.

This is the melody people remember.  
It sells the song. 
It contains the highest notes.  It's different from the verse.   
It contains a musical phrase that's repeated through the song.  
The choruses are identical, so people can sing along. 

BRIDGE     BR          release or middle eight  
This optional section comes after the second chorus.  
It can contain lyrics or an instrumental. 
It has different chords. 
It provides contrast and interest. 

CODA       OUT     outro or tag     
It gives the song an ending


 A A A             V,  V,  V

Same music, different lyrics. 
Used by:  Gospel,  folk, and a few pop songs.  

Keep your melody interesting.  
You may need a musical section between verses to provide contrast. 
You can use a fake chorus that doesn’t contain the songs hook.

"All along the watch tower"            Bob Dylan and Jimi Hendrix
"Born in the Usa"                            Bruce springsteen
"Turn, turn, turn"                              Pete Seeger

A A Br A            V,  V,  Br,  V

The lyric title is found in the 1st or last line of each verse.
You can change the title in following verses, but keep it close to the original. 

The bridge uses different chords and melody.
It may use a different lyrical tone, a change of viewpoint, a new slant.   etc. 

The verses usually have different lyrics. 
The verse sections are often 8 bars in length, or 16 bars for faster rock songs. 

The first two verses establish the pattern, 
The bridge provides tension. 
Resolution occurs when it returns to the verse.

A A Br A Br A        V,  V,  Br,  V,  Br,  V

The final verse may repeat a previous verse. 

The Beatles often used this form. 
      "Hey Jude"     
      "Hard days night"   
       "I want to hold your hand"   
       "Long and winding road"

They also used:         A  A  Br  A  Br  A  Br  A              
Verse 4 is an instrumental, verses 2 3 5 are the same.  
The bridges all have different words. 

Beatles song forms are often advanced.

A B A B          V,  C,  V,  C                Verse - Chorus

A good lyric line often starts the song.
Make it something people relate to.  

The chorus is always the same.  
Use the title in the 1st line of the chorus,   1st and last,    or last.
The songs title is the choruses lyrical hook. 

The chorus conveys the main point of the song. 

Make sure the verse and chorus are relevant to each other.

A A B A B         V,  V,  C, V, C

2 verses before the chorus is sung. 


A B C                 V,  PC, C

Add this to any of the forms above.
A short Pre-chorus leads into the chorus.

The PC is a mini bridge. 
It often uses the same words each time.
It different chord changes from the verse or chorus.

The title can go in the pre-chorus or chorus.  

Beatles song:     "Lucy in the sky with diamonds". 
A  PC with different words occurs before the first 2 choruses, 
No PC before the last chorus. 


 A B A B C        V,  C,  V,  C,  Br....  V,  C

Verse - chorus with a bridge.

The bridge is an interlude.
It has new chord changes, themes and higher or lower notes
“Everything you want”      Vertical Horizon
“Here comes the sun”      The Beatles


A B C A B C D...      V,  PC,  C,  V,  PC,  C,  Br....   V,  PC, C

A  PC  before every chorus and a bridge (D) in the middle.
You can add another verse before the out chorus.

Make sure the song doesn't feel too long with all the sections. 
The last verse/chorus might bypass the PC.
“Hold on loosely”       .38 special


Don’t be afraid to try new structures. 

“I can’t hold back”    by Survivor         V  PC  V  PC   C   Br  PC   V   C   PC            

“Drops of Jupiter” by Train                  V  C   Br   V   C   Br   V   C

  only title line     C no title          Br  long Instrumental         V               C   different words   
  chant with new word rhythm   V    simple piano / vocals   C  combines other 2 choruses

Re-arrange sections to give your song a unique structure.  
Listen to The Beatles and Motown songwriters.
Heavier music:  Ramstein, Marilyn Manson and White Zombie.

Examine the best songs to see why they work.  
Write down the lyrics.
Notate sections as verse, chorus, bridge, etc.
Where do the titles appear? 
Can you hear the rhythm of the song in the words?
      Often you can't.

What makes each section different?  

What is original in your favorite songs?
What makes it your favorite?

Contrast between sections keeps a song moving. 
Change the music or melody.
Change from past to present tense, 
General to specific, 
Change the location, 
Let the listener know.

If any section doesn’t work, get rid of it.  
Use it in a different song.