60-Second Songwriting: Song Structure Basics—the Chorus

60-Second Songwriting aims to offer quick, concise song-craft tips, basics and blasts for the time-crunched and attention-challenged 21st-century musician.

Song structure is one of songwriting’s key elements or building blocks. As songwriters, we casually throw common structuring language around all the time—“Let’s double a chorus here. Why don’t we go to the bridge there?” But how often (if ever) do we really stop to think, beginner or advanced writer alike, about the nut-and-bolt concepts behind the everyday rudiments of our trade?

Let’s quickly explore perhaps the most well known of song structure’s most basic components, the chorus.

The Chorus

So, what is a chorus?

● It's one of song structure’s primary building-block sections and usually consists of a chord progression and a top-line melody that carries a lyric. It's a lyric that, generally speaking, illustrates and sums up the main, overall theme or idea of your song.

● In instrumental music, the chorus’ top-line melody, sans lyric, will carry the song’s main, musical motif.

● The chorus is a recurring section, usually appearing at least three or four times throughout the timeline of the song. Generally, the lyrics, top-line melody and underlying chords remain the same for each iteration of your chorus. Although, as always, there are no rules in songwriting.

● Some might call the chorus “the big Kahuna” of all song sections because the chorus typically contains what’s referred to as “the hook” of your tune.

● A hook can come in many incarnations—melodic, rhythmic, lyrical, harmonic or a combination of all—but no mater what form the hook takes, if done right, it should be the most memorable, infectious part of your song. The ear worm that listeners walk away humming or singing.

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, composing for television/advertising and teaching songwriting via his Queens English Recording Co. Mark also is the founder/curator of intro.verse.chorus, a website dedicated to exploring the art of songwriting. Visit Mark on Facebook or follow him on Twitter.

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