Hello Everyone! I was just going through some of my classes and came across a section in “Song Writing And Performance” that I think might be helpful for those out there like me who like to write music.
I always knew that there was something more to songwriting than just the verses, chorus and bridges, but I wasn’t quite sure what. Below, we’ll start to tackle this question by defining the main parts that most songs are made up of.
The Role of Each Section:
This part of the song is meant to move the stories or ideas forward and help set up the main point that will be shown in the chorus. An example of this is found in the song Love Like I am Going To Loose You by Megan Trainer:
“I found myself dreaming
In silver and gold
Like a scene from a movie
That every broken heart knows
We were walking on moonlight
And you pulled me close
Split second and you disappeared
And then I was all alone“
Megan uses phrases like “dreaming in silver and gold” and “walking in the moonlight” to illustrate the whimsical and dreamlike feeling in the first few lines. In the latter section, she rips this happy thought to pieces when the person she is writing about vanishes.
Every poet and songwriter must adhere to a certain cadence; and bind themselves to some kind of pattern so that the final product flows the way they want it to: that’s where the fun of choosing the right words comes in. Most writers just put words on the page, but they have something to learn from any good songwriter. Any single word within a song means something and alters the flavor of the piece somewhat, and the job is to choose just the right words to create the perfect imagery.
“Split second and you disappeared” is not a full sentence; however in songwriting, grammar is not as important as getting the point across. Megan said everything she needed to say in that line, keeping in time with her cadence, and the result was a phrase that gives the reader or listener a mental image of what she’s saying.
This is the moment when you get to swoop in like a superhero and show everyone the big picture. You get to reveal the primary purpose, main message and the grand theme. Some of the things that you can use to illustrate are figurative language, imagery, metaphors, phase repeats, etc. An example of this can be found in Minefields by Faouzia and John Legend.
“Ooh-ooh, these minefields that I walk through
Ooh-ooh, what I risk to be close to you
Ooh-ooh, these minefields keeping me from you
Ooh-ooh, what I risk to be close to you“
Taking this song completely out of context and using it to demonstrate purely for writing purposes, “minefields” could be anything. If it was a song about being in the army, you’d read it in a different way than if the song was about taking in a stray dog.
A minefield could represent any number of dangerous circumstances or even conversations or decisions. In this case, they are a figure of speech or a metaphor.
Sometimes the title of the song is pulled directly from the chorus, as with Minefields. The Chorus should be the catchiest, most moving, and most powerful part of the song. Listeners should remember the chorus long after the song has ended! So keep this in mind when you are writing your chorus.
Use those words that have deep meaning; that mean exactly what you want to say … and more. Experiment. Look up synonyms. Make up new words if you need to! Just remember to have fun with it.
As you probably know, this part is optional. Being an add-on before the chorus it usually repeats each time the chorus happens. In Katy Perry’s Fire Work, we hear these lines:
“You just gotta ignite the light and let it shine
Just own the night like the 4th of July!”
These words lead up to the chorus, but don’t necessarily add more information to the song. They’re catchy words that flow with the tune, providing more syllables to make up the cadence. If your song’s cadence doesn’t require more words you don’t need to worry about adding them. But if you need extra words, now you know where to put them!
Another way to use a Prechorus is to build up to the chorus volume-wise. Say you have a quiet, thoughtful verse, but you want a powerful statement of a chorus. One way to glide smoothly from one to the other without blasting your audience’s ears off (unless you really feel like blasting your audience’s ears off for a good reason) is to gradually build up to the desired volume during the prechorus section.
This is thought of the Departure. Sometimes it can be loud and raucous, or it can be soft and broken-sounding. If you’re having trouble with your songs and you are finding the ends boring, you can add in a bridge and it’ll help keep the song a little bit more interesting! Example: Files By Lily Troutman.
“Laughter is Good
As long as it’s with the right person
So why did I open up those doors
That I kept shut while rehersin’”
A bridge often binds two parts of a song together. Sometimes it’ll include a key-change or a transition between emotions.
Normally this is the key line or phrase that is repeated. It’s considered the lyrics that bring attention to the verse and the chorus. Example: Files by Lily Troutman.
“Oh, Hello again
I haven’t read your text in quite a while
And it’s spilling out the memories of an overstuffed file.“
If you have a certain thought that you’re intent upon getting across, but you don’t want to keep talking about the same thing in every verse, a good way to do that is with a refrain that repeats several times throughout the song. Of course you don’t want to use it too much, or it will become annoying, but there’s a fine balance that you’ll find with a little practice.
This is the catchiest part of the song. It’s what will stay in the head of the listeners hopefully for years to come! (Like “Country roads take me home” from Country Roads by Bill Danoff, Taffy Nivert and John Denver). Sometimes this can be the chorus, or the bridge. “A fish knows the hook… Once it’s in you; its hard to get it out.” Day Drayton. The hook is the part you want to spend a lot of time on: the more you invest in its perfection, the more perfect it will be! …Theoretically.
That’s one thing about song-writing: sometimes there’s no such thing as absolute perfection. It can always get better, but every once in a while there’s no way to make it all add up. In that case, the best thing I can tell you is this: start at the beginning of the section you’re working on, and re-write or drastically change some one or other of the elements contained within. Eventually you’ll end up with something you like, because the more you change things around, the more phrases you’ll have at the tips of your fingers, waiting to line up in exactly the way you want!
Well, happy songwriting! -Reflectionsofrenaissance.com