Song Structure

Learn how to structure a song

song structure

The structure of a song, also called song structure or song form, is a songs basic shape and outline.

It is the arrangement and progression of a songs different components. (verse, chorus, bridge etc.)

In this section, we'll take a closer look at the following:

Song Structure - The 3 Main Song Forms

There are 3 main song forms used today, each one has its own characteristics and can be used to achieve different results. And remember that all of these song forms will have thousands of variations so their is no strict rules as such.

How to Decode the Structure of a Song

Working out a song structure is easy to do; it's really just a matter of listening to a song, counting along to the beats, recognizing the different sections and writing your findings down in proper order.

Here's the process in easy to follow steps:

  1. Start from the beginning of the song. The first melodic segment you hear (not including the intro) is referred to as A.
  2. The next melodic segment you hear that differs from A is referred to as B, the third C, and so on.
  3. If a melodic segment repeats itself it is given the same letter it got the first time.
  4. To work out the length of each section, count bars starting on the downbeat, such as;

  5. 4/4 Time |1 - 2 - 3 - 4 - |2 - 2 - 3 - 4 - |3 - 2 - 3 - 4 - |4 - 2 - 3 - 4 - |

    3/4 Time |1 - 2 - 3 - |2 - 2 - 3 - |3 - 2 - 3 - |4 - 2 - 3 - |

  6. Each time a new melodic segment starts, begin counting at one again.
  7. Enter the total number of bars in each segment.
  8. For solos and instrumental breaks just use Solo or Inst as shorthand as well as the number of bars they run.

By the time you finish you should end up with something that looks like this:

Intro   1 / / / 2 / / / 3 / / / 4 / / /
A         1 / / / 2 / / / 3 / / / 4 / / / 5 / / / 6 / / / 7 / / / 8 / / /
B         1 / / / 2 / / / 3 / / / 4 / / / 5 / / / 6 / / / 7 / / / 8 / / /
Inst     1 / / / 2 / / /
A         1 / / / 2 / / / 3 / / / 4 / / / 5 / / / 6 / / / 7 / / / 8 / / /
B         1 / / / 2 / / / 3 / / / 4 / / / 5 / / / 6 / / / 7 / / / 8 / / /
Solo    1 / / / 2 / / / 3 / / / 4 / / /
B         1 / / / 2 / / / 3 / / / 4 / / / 5 / / / 6 / / / 7 / / / 8 / / /

And that's it, that's how to easily work out a song structure.


Try It For Yourself

Practice this technique by listening to some of your favorite songs and applying the steps above. This will help you see how other songwriters put together their songs and in return help you to structure your own. Song structure is the songwriting basics, so make sure you understand it.

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