Parts of a Song
Learn the definition and purpose of each song part
It's time to learn about the different parts of a song. You should think of these as the building blocks from which you build your songs.
The song parts that I want to show you are the intro, verse, chorus, bridge, pre-chorus and outro.
Learning these buildng blocks is the basics of songwriting. It's important to know the strengths and weakness of each so that you can use them to maximum effect in your own songwriting.
So lets get started with the part of a song which comes first, the intro.
The Parts of a Song Explained...
This is the introduction, always appearing at the start of the song. In popular music this typically lasts between 4 - 8 bars, this works best for radio airplay since most songs usually only last around 3 - 4 mins, short and simple, that's the way they like it. Other genres of music, such as rock and dance, generally don't apply this rule. The main job of the intro is to grab the listeners attention. It should pull your listeners in and make them want to hear the rest of the song. It is usually an instrumental form of the verse or chorus.
The purpose of the verse is to tell the story of the song. Every song has a story or a message to convey and the verse is where you do it. Musically the melody of the verse is the same each time. Lyrically it differs, with each verse developing the story. Dynamically, verses are usually a little quieter than the chorus. Remember, the amount of verses you use depends on what song form you are using.
The pre-chorus happens between the verse and the chorus. It is used to add an additional level of dynamics. Not all songs use a pre-chorus, it tends to be used on an "only if needed" basis. Its main function is to build tension up to the chorus and then the chorus provides the relief. It can really help make your chorus stand out. A pre-chorus is usually kept fairly short, between 2 - 8 bars.
This is without a doubt the MOST important part of a song. It is where you convey the main message of the song. It should be the same each time, both musically and lyrically, and the title of the song should also be placed within it. A great chorus is catchy and memorable. After hearing your song only even once, the listener should walk around all day with it stuck in their head.
The bridge comes after the second chorus of your song and its main purpose is to add contrast. This could be either a new chord progression that breaks up the repetitive verse/chorus structure, an instrumental solo, new lyrical message etc. Typically not lasting longer than 8 bars.
The end of a song can sometimes be referred to as an outro. This is when the song fades out gradually or has some kind of big finale. This could be the chorus repeated a number of times with the singer using ad lib.
Try it for yourself
The point of this songwriting tutorial is to teach you the different parts of a song and what better way to finish it off than by having you practice your newfound knowledge. Listen to the radio and try to identify the various parts of a song.
- Can you recognise the chorus and the verse?
- How many bars does each section last?
- Does each song have a bridge or pre-chorus?
- When it comes to the different parts of a song, which stands out most to you?
Now that you understand the different parts of a song it's time to take the next step, which is learning how to arrange your songs. Click here to learn how to structure a song.