Throughout millions of songs, one finds that there is a form or structure in the songs. Whatever the genre, rock, metal, rap , reggaeton, this structure appears again and again.
But when composing , one of the most common problems are songs that have no form or structure. On the one hand, artists who develop sections one after another and do not think about the whole song because they believe that not respecting the structure of the song makes original songs, and on the other hand, it is very common that many other composers find it difficult give it shape
In this article we will analyze why a song should have a form and how to make a song that works.
One of the main questions that we must understand is why it is necessary that our songs maintain the “standart” form or structure of a song.
Many people believe that if they do not respect the structure of a song it is original. As we will see later this is a big mistake, the structure must be respected, one must be original in other things like the melody, the lyrics, the rhythm, the motives and the environment.
In fact, many cover the lack of content and originality in music , simply making songs without form, boring, and long.
This does not mean that we should make all songs equal, but that the song asks us for a form of structure.
It is more one, it finds that it is of the genre that is, rock, metal, rap, reggaetón, this structure appears again and again. Many other times, this structure may vary slightly, adding one section or removing another, but one can always find the structure.
Why songs have a form?
First it is worth mentioning that all artistic or intellectual work has an order. So it is important that the songs have a structure because it is mainly a convention. That means that it is a “pact” between public and artists.
In other words, the public expects this order and without it most people simply would not understand your song. The public expects and anticipates this convention. And secondly, the songs have a structure because it is proven to work.
A song without structure is an amorphous song (without form), of which it is a development in which to remember something one should listen many times.
In other words, there is a structure because it is necessary that certain elements are repeated. Why is it necessary to repeat elements? By repeating elements, people can remember them and become familiar with them.
The other reason why a structure exists is to generate contrast, variation. If we repeated the same elements over and over again these would end up boring and the whole song would be the same.
By this way, it is that the structure of the songs exists: a measure between repetition, variation and contrast.
Without structuring our work, the song will be either boring (due to the large amount of repetition) or difficult to follow and remember (due to the lack of repetition).
What is the essence of the structure of a song?
The main parts of a song are Verso-Chorus. Once we have those two components we have the basis of a song.
What is a verse and what is a refrain?
Here we understand verses not in a poetic sense, but verses is where the musical idea is developed and mainly the lyrics of the song. We are told that the song is about, and there is already a well-established harmony. The length of the verses and their amount before the chorus varies from song to song. In general they are usually between 1 and 4 verses depending on their duration, rhythm, number of lines and breaks.
It is worth noting that when two or more sections of a song have basically the same music and different lyrics, those parts are considered verses of the song.
In poetry the Chorus is considered as a small group of verses that repeat themselves. In music, a verse is understood as a refrain that is repeated several times in a composition.
The main function of the chorus is to emphasize the idea of the song both in the lyrics and in the musical idea. In other words, the refrain is basically used to highlight the “refrain” or “phrase” of a song. This happens because lyrically speaking the refrain is usually more a more reflective and less narrative than the text of the verses.
Frequently the refrain contrasts with the verses in rhythm, melody and harmony and also usually gives more dynamism or greater instrumentation, although you can also work with silences to achieve this break of the verses.
Another important detail is that the refrains usually use a different melody from the verses. On average the chorus appears between 60 and 90 seconds.
When two or more parts of a song have basically identical music and lyrics these sections are consider refrains of the song.
The chorus is considered the most important part of the song in commercial music and many times the chorus is repeated at the beginning and end of the song.
How do I structure my song?
The best way to structure a song is to think about what function each of the elements that we are going to put on plays. It is best to always think of duality: verse / chorus and develop things from there.
For example we develop a refrain, we develop a verse.
Basic structure of the song: ABAB
Then we can develop the rest of the elements such as the intro and the bridge and the end.
To learn more about the elements: Structure and elements of a song
Complex structure: ABCBCDC
Structure: Contrast and variation
If our song sounds very repetitive, or repeats the same harmony throughout the song it is always good to add some variations to avoid monotony.
Many times it is done on the bridge, with different harmony to bring new air. Another resource is to add a verse with different chords before the chorus. This is the case of the song Nonpalidece – La flor . The song uses the same 2 chords throughout the song which makes there is little difference between the verses and chorus. So to avoid the monotony add a section before the chorus by changing the harmony which renews the interest in the chorus.
How many times should I repeat the elements?
It depends on several factors, but at least EVERYTHING should be repeated 2 times throughout the song. In the case of the refrain we should repeat it as many times as we can, even with variations: Squeeze the refrain: Lady Gaga style . The only two elements that are not repeated are the bridge and he alone.
Questions we should ask ourselves when structuring the song:
- What are the verses?
- What is the refrain?
- Are the verses of the refrain different?
- Is the idea of the refrain clear?
- Does my song need other elements such as a pre-translation to differentiate chorus verses?
- Is there a difference in rhythm (or energy) between the verses and the chorus or does everything sound the same?
- How many times do I repeat the refrain?
- How many times do I repeat the verses (the melody, not the lyrics)?
- Does the harmony change on the bridge?
- Is there a musical motif that appears throughout the song?
- Why should I include this section?
- Is there a clear musical idea in the song?
- What feeling / emotion / environment does the song generate?
- Is my song very monotonous?
How do I analyze the structure of my songs?
When we make the song it is difficult to see its structure, so it is best to put it on paper. You simply listen to your song and write each section with a letter. For example the Verse A, the refrains B, the bridge C and so on. To read more about this: Songs form system
We must always think about our song in relation to verses and refrains, because it is the basis of the song. Once we have that we can develop the rest of the song by completing the missing elements. The other obligatory question that we must think about is if everything sounds the same or if we should add contrast (variations) to achieve a clear differentiation between the sections.
Of course, this is for good to achieve a song and get the best of it, if you want to experiment and try different ideas you can start from a structure and break it into different pieces.