All About Songwriting

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Month: February 2016

Songwriting 101 – #5: Intro’s And Outro’s

This is a series of posts about song formatting and structure. All this week I’ll be writing about the different individual elements that make up a song.


Go to #1 – The Chorus

Go to #2 – The Verse

Go to #3 – The Melody

Go to #4 – The Bridge


Please bear in mind that these are my definitions and interpretations of the different parts of a song structure. There are no hard and fast rules determining which part of a song goes where.

However, there are generally accepted guidelines. Think of this Songwriting 101 series as the “nuts and bolts” of putting your songs together.

You’ve been refining your songwriting process and you’ve come up with some great ideas and now you are ready to put them all together.

Your journey starts now…


If you break a song down to it’s most basic structure you’ll find it’s just like any other type of writing. There is a beginning, a middle and an end.

How a song starts and finishes is just as important as what happens in the middle (especially if you’re performing your song live).

Today I want to write about INTRO’S and OUTRO’S. Let’s start off with the introducton.

The introduction sets up the vocal melody and the primary musical arrangement of the song. It shouldn’t be too long otherwise it will ‘overstay it’s welcome’ with the listener.

An average song intro is four to eight bars in length.

There are of course exceptions to every rule. Led Zeppelin’s “Stairway To Heaven” has a sixteen bar introduction however, this is needed to map out the complex (and timeless) musical arrangement of this epic tune.

The introduction motif for your song can happen only once at the benning or can appear a number of times.

It can double as the breathing space between verse and chorus, it can form the basis of your bridge section or, it can be the bridge between a major and minor tonality.

For instance, your introduction maybe in A minor and your verse is in it’s relative major key which is C.

Now for the Outro.

An “outroduction” (not sure if this is a real word or not but I like it anyway) is a section that signifies the end of a song is approaching.

It can be as simple as a repeating of the chorus, of the hook-line or it can be just like a bridge, a departure giving the listener one last surprise before the end of the song is upon them.

An example of an outro would be the repeated “sending out an SOS” line at the end of “Message In A Bottle” by The Police.

It’s always good practise to let the listener know where the beginning, middle and the end of your songs are. Intro’s and outro’s are a good way to let the listener know where their ears are taking them.

Do you have any other examples of really good intro’s and outro’s? Feel free to let me know.

Until next time, happy writing,

Corey Stewart
All About Songwriting

Songwriting 101 – #4: The Bridge

This is a series of posts about song formatting and structure. All this week I’ll be writing about the different individual elements that make up a song.


Go to #1 – The Chorus

Go to #2 – The Verse

Go to #3 – The Melody


Please bear in mind that these are my definitions and interpretations of the different parts of a song structure. There are no hard and fast rules determining which part of a song goes where.

However, there are generally accepted guidelines. Think of this Songwriting 101 series as the “nuts and bolts” of putting your songs together.

You’ve been refining your songwriting process and you’ve come up with some great ideas and now you are ready to put them all together.

Your journey starts now…


Today I’m going to be talking about the BRIDGE and let me tell you, I do love a good bridge.

There’s something about how a bridge takes you to somewhere else in a song and then gently back to the familiarity of a verse or chorus that makes it a very important piece of your songwriting armoury.

Good bridges are hard to find and are even harder to write. It’s not enough to just write a departure from what you’re creating with your verses and choruses.

The departure has to be purposeful. It needs to have some sort of meaning and reason behind it.

Lyrically a bridge can introduce another point of view, be an extension of the song story or even be a devil’s advocate to it.

Musically it can be whatever you want it to be however there are a couple of things to consider:

1. Make sure the entry and exit points of the bridge are seamless.
Take into consideration the melody, rhythm and flow of the song. This is what I mean about the bridge being purposeful

2. Don’t make the bridge too long.
This is not a time to introduce a second movement to your song. Generally bridges are between eight and sixteen bars in length (if its eight bars in length it can also be called a ‘middle eight’)

Bridges add character and uniqueness to your songs. They break up monotony and pleasantly surprise the listener or possibly prepare them for a key change.

A great example of a great bridge is the one in “Every Breath You Take” by The Police.

Sting is a master at writing bridges and in this song he switches tonality and presents a 10 bar bridge that lyrically shifts the perspective of the song while at the same time seamlessly moves from one tonality to another.

Here is the song for you to listen to. The bridge starts at at 1:23

If you want your songs to spring into life, now is the time to start learning the art of a good bridge.

What other examples of bridges or middle 8’s do you consider to be masterful. Feel free to let me know.

Until next time, happy writing,

Corey Stewart
All About Songwriting

Songwriting 101 – #3: The Melody

This is a series of posts about song formatting and structure. All this week I’ll be writing about the different individual elements that make up a song.


Go to #1 – The Chorus

Go to #2 – The Verse


Please bear in mind that these are my definitions and interpretations of the different parts of a song structure. There are no hard and fast rules determining which part of a song goes where.

However, there are generally accepted guidelines. Think of this Songwriting 101 series as the “nuts and bolts” of putting your songs together.

You’ve been refining your songwriting process and you’ve come up with some great ideas and now you are ready to put them all together.

Your journey starts now…


Today we’re going to talk about MELODY.

In a song it’s the melody that binds everything together. It’s almost like a song is created to enable the melody to stand out for everyone to hear.

In my experience, a really good musical arrangement has been ruined by a poor melody whereas a great melody has saved many a poor arrangement. That’s how important a great melody is for your songwriting.

It took me a long time to realize that melody is supreme.

The melody is what the listener remembers. It’s what they hum or whistle to while listening in the car for example.

A great melody is something that gets stuck in a listener’s head and gets them frustrated beyond belief. It’s what defines your song as being yours alone (regardless of what instrumentation and arrangement idea you choose to use) and makes your song stand out from the rest of the music that’s being played today.

A lot of songwriters I know get themselves all tied up in knots when trying to come up with an original chord structure or some sort of amazingly inspired riff to get them started on a potential song.

For these songwriters their process becomes a never-ending battle to try and come up with something totally original as they feel that going down the same old paths will bore their listening audience..

I say that if you have a great melody it almost doesn’t matter what chords fit with it, even if it is only three chords. A good melody has the power to bring out the emotions that you want the listener to experience.

As with anything in songwriting there are no hard and fast formulaic rules for coming up with great melodies however the lyrics of a song can give you clues as to where your melody could be going.

In my own songwriting process, melodies come to me in two distinct ways:

1. Little snippets based on a phrase that pops into my head.
The rhythm of that phrase pretty much determines the melody that comes out. I constantly write lists of possible song titles so coming up with a phrase to work on can be as easy as looking at one of my lists.

2. Noodling whatever comes into my head on my guitar.
After the initial spark then the building process begins. Is the song going to be a sad, thoughtful, contemplating or happy one? Is the melody consisting of short notes, long languishing notes or a mixture of both? Is it a soaring anthemic piece or an intimate piece?

One of the best things you can do to tune your ears to good melodies is to start listening to a lot of music. A good exercise is to write down a list of your ten favourite songs and really listen to the melody.

As you’re listening write down what it is about the melody that touches, moves and inspires you. Does the melody send a shiver up your spine? Write it down. What you’re doing is pinpointing what moves you.

This will make it easier to write melodies that make you say “WOW!”

Writing songs can be a juggling act sometimes. You have a lyric here, a melody there, a half finished chorus, a riff that needs a home. However, if you concentrate on the melody of the song you will find that the juggling act becomes a lot easier to manage.

That’s why I say that melody is very thing that binds all of your song elements together.

What do you think about what I’ve mentioned here about melody? Does it resonate with you or, do you have a different opinion? Feel free to let me know.

Until next time, happy writing,

Corey Stewart
All About Songwriting

Songwriting 101 – #2: The Verse

This is a series of posts about song formatting and structure. All this week I’ll be writing about the different individual elements that make up a song.


Go to #1 – The Chorus


Please bear in mind that these are my definitions and interpretations of the different parts of a song structure. There are no hard and fast rules determining which part of a song goes where.

However, there are generally accepted guidelines. Think of this Songwriting 101 series as the “nuts and bolts” of putting your songs together.

You’ve been refining your songwriting process and you’ve come up with some great ideas and now you are ready to put them all together.

Your journey starts now…


Here’s the second instalment of my Songwriting 101 series on my definitions of the different building blocks of a song.

Today it’s all about the VERSE.

In my first instalment in this series I mentioned that if…

“… the chorus of a song is the destination then the verses are the journey towards it.”

Verses set up the foundation for where the chorus sits on top. If you can make the verses of your songs flow towards a killer chorus then you are halfway there in creating a song that people will have no choice but to listen.

Verses lay down the foundation of a song by allowing the songwriter room to tell the story or set the scene of the song. Character development can also happen in the verses too.

If the chorus, being the main focal point of the song, can be likened to the answer of a question, then the verses are the questions themselves.

Verses set up the arrival of the chorus both lyrically and melodically therefore, they’re repetitious in nature. The melody generally stays the same while the lyrics change underneath.

Personally, I like verses to be rhythmically flowing and full of purpose. You don’t want to detract the listener from the build up to a chorus that’s about to arrive.

Verses should create a really good contrast so the chorus will stand out even more. For instance, if you have a chorus that’s anthemic in nature then your verses need to be almost understated.

Creating this contract will enable the listener to inherently know that a chorus is about to arrive. The more anticipation you can build up the better, just make sure that you have a chorus that is able to give the listener the release they’re looking for.

Verses are not meant to be complete in themselves. They are meant to be leading somewhere. It’s important for songwriters to realise that verses and choruses are very different to each other.

I hear many songs that suffer from a lack of distinction between a verse and a chorus. It’s like the songwriter is saying to the listener “This section here must be a chorus because it comes after a verse”.

Songwriters need to understand the relationship that verses and choruses have with each other. Verses are just as important as choruses but a great chorus can be spoiled by a grandstanding verse so the balance needs to be in the writing.

Verses are the roadmaps of your song. Start giving your listener the directions that they need to get the most out of your songs.

What do you think constitutes a great verse or can you name some examples? Feel free to let me know.

Until next time, happy writing,

Corey Stewart
All About Songwriting

Songwriting 101 – #1: The Chorus

This is a series of posts about song formatting and structure. All this week I’ll be writing about the different individual elements that make up a song.

Please bear in mind that these are my definitions and interpretations of the different parts of a song structure. There are no hard and fast rules determining which part of a song goes where.

However, there are generally accepted guidelines. Think of this Songwriting 101 series as the “nuts and bolts” of putting your songs together.

You’ve been refining your songwriting process and you’ve come up with some great ideas and now you are ready to put them all together.

Your journey starts now…


To kick this series off, I want to write about the most important part of a song’s structure, the all important CHORUS.

The chorus is generally the focal point of the song. It’s what the listener usually remembers long after the song has finished. It is where the hook, the title or the main story idea of the song usually resides.

Don Walker, keyboard player and principal songwriter of seminal Australian band Cold Chisel when asked about the importance of a chorus once said that “the quicker you get to the point the better.”

To me the chorus is like the destination and the rest of the song is the journey towards it.

A chorus is meant to be the uplifting part of the song, something which stands out from everything else and is powerful enough to get people to sing or hum along to it.

In the creation of a song, most songwriters come up with a chorus before anything else. I think this is because the chorus is like the synopsis or the summary of the song.

I’m amazed though at how many songwriters don’t pay enough attention to the chorus.

From time to time I get asked to judge local songwriting contests and in the course of judging it’s far too often that I hear a “chorus” that sounds almost or exactly the same as their verses and that to me is a wasted opportunity to really grab the listener’s attention.

Choruses, more than any other part of a song, are most effective if there are minimal words in them, are melodically dynamic and are rhythmically streamlined and full of flow.

Songs can be saved by a cracking, stirring chorus.

Please bear in mind that I’m not here to tell you how many bars a chorus should run for or, how dynamic your chorus melody should be, that’s up to you to experiment with the songwriting ideas that you create.

All I’m doing is outlining some characteristics that you, the songwriter should be mindful of and after all, isn’t observation and mindfulness part of your songwriting process?

Listen to the songs that you’ve grown up with and pay close attention to the choruses of those songs. Chances are they are the very things that you had sung along to.

Have you ever had a song that enters your head and it just won’t go away? How annoying is that? What is the part of the song that is stuck in your mind?

Yes that’s right, the CHORUS.

What do you think constitutes a good chorus? Feel free to let me know, I’m all ears.

Until next time, happy writing,

Corey Stewart
All About Songwriting