60-Second Songwriting: Song Structure Basics—the Verse

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 nuts-and-bolts concepts behind the everyday rudiments of our trade?

Let’s quickly explore one of song structure’s most basic (and often taken for granted) components; the verse.

The Verse

What comes to mind when you think of the verse?

● The verse of a tune is one of song structure’s primary building-block sections.

● A pop verse usually consists of a chord progression and a top-line melody that carries a lyric. If the song is solely instrumental in nature, the same still applies, with the top-line melody doing all of the work by its lonesome, sans lyrics/vocals.

● The verse is a recurring section of a song. As with all of songwriting, there are no rules, but there are usually two or three verses in a pop song.

● Typically, the chords and top-line melody remain the same for each verse while the lyrical content changes. This helps to offer the listener a form of consistency while also serving to create the narrative of your tune. A narrative that usually illustrates and supports the main, intellectual theme of your song, typically found in your chorus.

● Although the chorus or “hook” of your tune gets most of the listener’s (and writer’s) love and interest, the verse does all the heavy lifting, lyrically speaking, in terms of storytelling and is a super-important part of the song equation.

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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