This is a series of posts about song formatting and structure. Every couple of days 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