Rather than fill up another thread (50 week challenge) with this topic, I wanted to separate it out here. I find when trying to learn a song, it’s helpful to understand basic song structure. The more I’ve understood this, it has really helped me latch onto songs and when to change sections. Here are a couple great videos I’ve found to illustrate this.
Holistic Songwriting is indeed helpfull and not just in writing but indeed also for your learning.
Friedemann is an excellent teacher in this field.
( @Regina check him out, he will ‘sound’ familiar for you )
Indeed! Understanding song structure is a major key to learning and memorizing songs.
I’m really surprised neither of them mentioned the outro (after the final chorus). Every song I have learned to play had both an intro and an outro.
I think so many songs nowadays either end abruptly or fade out. But it’s just a guideline of course.
In the Addiction Formula he analyzed more modern hit songs and found attention spans are shorter. The most common structure on “hit” songs is verse chorus verse chorus bridge chorus. There are other structures that are hit songs, and he talks about the flow of energy throughout the song. It’s an interesting book, but it is based on modern music and what makes songs a “hit” in today’s landscape. He does also mention it isn’t a be all end all and other formulas do become hits.
I’m familiar with the term “interlude” before the final chorus. I assume that’s the same thing as “bridge”?
Basically. Sometimes it can be just a guitar solo, sometimes a different part written for it, it just takes place of one of the verses and changes things up.
In the song “Lyin’ Eyes” that I covered, I got the score from a Hal Leonard book. The structure is Intro-verse-chorus-verse-chorus-verse-interlude-chorus-outro…
Addressing intro and outro, I’m a huge fan of both, and if you go and listen to the Thump Whistle songs I posted, we actually use them in songs. What they do, though, is add time to the song. With the short attention span of listeners now a days you want songs to be about 3:00-3:30 long (or close to). So when you start looking at time, you start to look at what you can remove from a song to shorten it without impacting the song much…often intro and outro are victims! Of course we didn’t know, nor were following these guidelines on a lot of our songs, and after we learned it, didn’t always follow it.
As you shouldn’t follow them, just use them for a specific song,in my opinion. Hit songs aren’t the only songs written, as their has always been more songs and tunes then hits.
As you say, it’s a guideline and nothing more, which us part of the fun of writing music.
For sure. I actually find it useful to look at the song through that lens. Can I shorten it? Can I make a part bigger/more impactful? Does it NEED that long of a solo? Would a breakdown or bridge help the song? Should my verse be a verse or a chorus? Can I switch them? Etc…It really helps when making final decisions before recording in studio. Sometimes you go”I don’t care, I don’t want to cut any of the pieces out of the song” and you don’t. Just have a long artistic song!
I am a strong believer that songs should have a well defined ending. So, outro is basically mandatory, and no fade outs.
There used to be an art to the fadeout, which like on a song Black Dog or Aja the fadeout is the outro. Sadly fadeouts just are lazily done these days.
So what music will you be writing. Pop music uses the same 4 chords, and the same structure. Pretty standard stuff. But you don’t have to constrain yourself to that. A lot of the stuff I listen to has pre-choruses and breakdowns.
And it can chart really well
It all just depends. There are songs I love with fade outs, like Planet Caravan (Pantera cover of Black Sabbath). Ending on a root note ring out is common and creates resolution. I’ve done intro and outro the same line. There is really no “right” and “wrong” to how you structure a song.
That said, methods like The Addiction Formula isn’t really about right or wrong, but rather the psychological effects of song structure. As an example, why are Prog and Math Metal songs not chart toppers and widely listened to compared to simple pop? The musicianship and technical ability is obviously tremendous. What those songs tend to do is wander. 5,6,7,8 different parts, sometimes without repeating. This eliminates expectation and familiarity to the listener. Why are choruses in songs often the part that people remember? They repeat throughout the song, have memorable hooks, and generally are the highest energy parts of the song. As you listen to it, you crave to have the chorus come back to hear it again. Again, not hard and fast “rules” but rather a recurring commonality shared by a large amount of “hit” songs. It’s more about “why” are these songs hits, than about art, complexity, personal preference etc… formulas in songs actually have a chemical affect on the brain…it’s interesting.
To my understanding an interlude is a small song placed between songs on an album. This is an interlude before Kingslayer on Post Human Survival (BMTH)
It’s weird how much better pop has gotten these days. The first time I heard Grimes I thought “whoa, she totally sounds like she’s on 4AD.” So I checked, and sure enough, she’s on 4AD. And charting.
Times have changed. A lot.
I recently found Santigold. Same kind of story.
When I think back to the excruciatingly bad pop of the '80s/90s I still cringe.
I’d argue Michael Jackson is a big exception to that. He was the king of pop for a reason, and I think recognizing the talent of Louis Johnson was a big part of it (but all his musicians too).
Yeah, interludes and bridges are different, or at least seem so to me. Interludes, the song takes a different path for a while, a distinct break between song sections. Often containing a solo.
A bridge, on the other hand, directly connects two parts of a song. Like, you know, a bridge.
At least that’s how I think about it.
And to be clear, I don’t really like most pop music, but at the same time I can’t ignore the art of it, and the formulas translate really well to other genres.