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60-Second Songwriting: Songwriting Building Blocks — Song Structure

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

In terms of the architecture of a pop song, in its simplest form, a tune can be broken down into a few key elements or building blocks — chord progressions, top-line melodies, lyrics, tempo-rhythm and song structure. As songwriters, we casually discuss these foundational elements all the time — “Why don’t we switch up that top-line on the last chorus? How about adding a bridge to the song structure?” But how often (if ever) do we really stop to think, beginner or advanced writer alike, about the nut-and-bolt concepts behind these everyday fundamentals of our trade?

In this edition of 60-Second Songwriting, we wrap up our songwriting building blocks series by focusing on song structure. We’ll take a look at its basic function through the specific lens of the songwriter and explore song structure’s purpose in service of the song.

Song Structure

  • Song structure is the arrangement of your song’s main parts within the timeline of your tune. 
  • As you’ll come to find, songwriting is very modular; Generally speaking (but not always) your song will be written in parts or sections and your song’s structure is really a product of how those sections are glued together and ordered to create a cohesive whole.
  • As always, there are no rules in songwriting, but that said, there are some very common or reoccurring, primary song structure elements that we can identify - the Intro, The Verse, The Pre-Chorus, The Chorus, The Bridge, The Solo and The Outro (or Coda).
  • Breaking down and studying the structures of your favorite songs is a great way to learn the subtle art of song structuring.

To dive deeper into song structure, check out Guitar World’s 60-Second Songwriting: Song Structure Basics series.

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