Music can take any shape. There are songs you know and love with every variety of structure or form. But in the realm of popular music, you’ll most commonly find a song consists of the following three sections: verse, chorus, and bridge. Individually, these sections can take any shape, but there are certain tendencies and relationships that can make a section feel like “the verse” or “the chorus”
Verses are often wordier, or have busier melodies. Many times they are lower in your vocal range, and can feel more conversational. I sometimes like to think of this section as the Story.
Choruses are the part that everyone sings along to. They normally come at the end of verses and although lyrics might change from verse to verse, the chorus normally uses the same lyrics and structure throughout the song. Many choruses are less wordy with more repeated phrases (sometimes they are just one word repeated!) You’ll often hear them in a higher part of the vocal range and/or with longer held out notes. I like to think of them as the point.
The bridge: You’ve heard it a million times but maybe never thought about this section. It’s usually later in the song (most often after the 2nd Chorus). Typically, it has a different melody, cadence, or both that completely stands on its own. It can be used to break up the flow the listener has come to expect and inject some new energy into your song. Perhaps it shares a different perspective, shining a new light on your chorus when it comes back around.
The most common form in Pop music:
Try listening to a song you like and see if you can pick out these sections. You might be surprised how often you hear this form exactly with some extra sauce sprinkled in…. You often hear instrumental moments, little musical palette cleansers, at the tops of songs, or after choruses.
But of course there are no rules, so don’t feel like you have to follow a formula when creating. Play with form, see how it makes the song feel. Maybe there are 2 verses in a row, of the first verse comes back again at the end to get a reflective feeling, or try starting with the Chorus for some energy right out the gate. Form can be guide when you are getting started or getting stuck. Just keep it in your back pocket for the moment when it’s the answer and for the moment it should be ignored all together.
Hope this helps!
Music Lead, Demo