In this module, we will move through the different sections of a song.
The arrangement of these sections is completely dependent on the song.
Try listening through one of your favourite songs and write down the arrangement. (Introduction, verses, choruses, bridges etc)
The intro is the first part of the song you hear. Its purpose is to set up the song and lead into the verse section. It might be a build-up starting with just one or two elements of the main backing track, or maybe the chorus chords with vocal ad libs laid over the top.
The verse is where the main backstory of the lyric generally happens, filling in background information to set up the chorus lyric. Unlike the bridge and chorus sections of a song, verse lyrics are usually unique to each verse, like a poem.
The bridge (known as the pre chorus in US songwriter-speak) is the section that forms the link between the verse and the chorus. As the chorus is usually on a higher energy level than the verse, the bridge section often needs to provide some sort of build. If the verse and chorus chords are the same, the bridge can be a new progression that makes re-introducing the verse and chorus chords seem fresher to the ear.
The chorus is the most often-repeated bit of a song, the part that you sing along to and that contains the main idea of what the song is about, both lyrically and musically. It should be easy to remember, as it usually occurs at least twice in the average arrangement and features the main hook of the song. Most choruses tend to be eight bars long, but often double up to 16 bars, especially the second or third time around.
Often, the last line of a chorus lyric can hang over into the next section, which can be a problem if your verse lyric falls on the downbeat. In this scenario, inserting a two-to-four-bar tag is a way to avoid the vocal crossing over, allowing the singer to ‘reset’ by giving them a break before the next verse happens. Tags can either be instrumental, broken down to act as punctuation, or can contain alternative hooks or melodies in their own right.
Known as the bridge in the Aus and US, the middle 8 is a section in the middle of the song, where there’s often a change of pace. Main elements of the track drop out, different instruments take over, chords and melodies might change, all to give the listener a break before the chorus comes back in again.
The outro (the opposite of the intro) is the final part of the song and is often just the chorus repeated two or three times to fade (in which case it would be known as the ‘outro chorus’), although it can be a totally unique new section especially written to bring the song to a close.
In a typical arrangement, sections are eight bars long, but four and 16-bar sections aren’t unusual.