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How to Create Good Song Structures

song structuringMany 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 misguided.

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.

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organizing your ideas in a songAlthough 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 dynamics.

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.

songwriting science david jasmine

david jasmine songwriting science

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