With this installment of Songcraft, I thought I’d discuss an option sadly underutilized in contemporary composition: "chorus first" song structuring.
Before taking in The Beatles’ “She Loves You” (below) as a stellar example of the form, let’s have a closer look at this classic structure.
The "chorus first" construct (not an official title, just my label), simply put, begins a song not with a typical intro or verse, but with what would traditionally be considered a tune’s chorus or refrain.
Conventional composition generally dictates that we view the chorus, usually the richest and most memorable part of the song, as a sacred section best introduced later in the timeline; a section that should be grown into, with the writer organically ratcheting up a song’s intensity and the listener’s interest through the gradual addition of “lesser” structural elements (the aforementioned intro, verses, etc.).
"Chorus first" challenges this slow-burn approach by alternately offering a fully formed refrain straight out of the gate, grabbing the audience and pulling them in from the get-go.
Let’s listen to "chorus first" in action and follow along with the break-out below.
As masterfully illustrated by The Beatles above, "chorus first" structuring is most definitely a powerful device and one worth exploring within one’s own writing. It offers your listener the catchiest, most lyrically concise part of your song, right from the start, as a statement of both topical intent and super-melodic invitation. As they say, you only get one chance at making a first impression; why not make it a great one by using the "chorus first" form.
As always, build it (well) and they will come …
Mark Bacino is a singer/songwriter based in New York City. When not crafting his own melodic brand of retro-pop, Mark can be found producing fellow artists or composing for television/advertising via his Queens English Recording Co. Mark also is the founder of intro.verse.chorus, a website for songwriters dedicated to the exploration of that wonderfully elusive activity known as songwriting. Visit Mark on Facebook or follow him on Twitter.