How to Create Good Song Structures
Many young artists make such claims as “I am a free spirit,” or “Imitation is
suicide; I am unique.” While these proclamations may be nobly motivated, they stand as ultimately
The best artists, the best innovators, the best songs all are based on pre-established structures.
It is important to learn standard, appropriate structures for songs because these structures are the tried and
true techniques that make a song clear and meaningful to audiences.
Even the songs of Katy Perry – this year’s Artist of the Year – are based off of standard musical structures. Of
course, there’s always room for experimentation too, which means that when learning how to create good song
structures on piano you learn when you should stick to the structure and when you should creatively deviate.
The key to knowing the format of songs is knowing which components normally constitute a song and what those
components typically include. The standard song structure includes the following elements: Intro, Verse, Chorus,
Bridge, Instrumental, and Outro. Although the order, length, and quantity of these elements can change, the use of
these devices in a song’s construction is essential.
Normally, a solid song structure will entail a four or eight measure Intro that repeats a series of chords
several times. The lyrics begin in the Verses. Many times the chords from the Intro will be similar to the chords
repeated in the Verses; however, there is room for creativity and deviation in the verses as well.
Although the lyrics in the Verses will be different for each
Verse, the lyrics in the Chorus typically are repeated every time the Chorus arrives. The aspects of Choruses
should include stronger and more punctuated chord progressions that stand out to an audience – there’s a
reason why Choruses are normally the first part of a song that gets stuck in people’s heads!
After two or three Verses and Choruses, songs typically transition into the Instrumental and Bridge. These
sections of a song’s structure are where the songwriter has the most opportunity for developing creative deviations
from the rest of the song, heightening the dynamics and emotional tension.
An Instrumental piece has no lyrics, but serves as a transitional moment into the second and more diverse
half of the song. Normally eight to sixteen bars, these Instrumentals also feature dramatic changes in volume,
either building up or calming down the emotional pace of the song.
The Bridge stands as the most unique section of a song, featuring chords and rhythms that are not present
elsewhere. Another powerful reprise of the Chorus should follow the Bridge. This will bring about a sense of
freshness to the melody composition on piano.
Once the power of the lyrics, patterns, volume, and deviations from the preceding components calms down, it is
time to conclude the song with an Outro. An Outro means that the chords and patterns from earlier in the song –
especially from the Intro – are repeated several more times without lyrics, leading to the end. Songs frequently
end either on a high point with great volume and energy, or on a low point by slowing down and decreasing
Even though you may know how to create a good structure for a song, the real artistry comes in when you compose
chords, write lyrics, and make decisions about how each component of the
structure needs to be played.
Each part of a song’s structure represents a creative, organic element of its own, and the true artist is the
one who weaves the structure together with chords, lyrics, rhythms, and dynamics to create authentic meaning.
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