Song Structuring..

MrUserNameIV

SenselessActsOfCreation
How to structure a song. . . the tension and release points vs. the story arc. Find the right balance. I don't know any other way to put it.
 

DJPhenomMusic

New member
I'm not a rapper, singer or songwriter but I produce for many of them. I simply think to myself what is the first thing that will grab the listeners attention. I am not quick to label parts of my beats as "hook" "verse" "bridge" ect. Its simply "a section" until lyrics are written and layed down. I go with a feeling. When my ears are ready for a change in the song is where I put a change. As a music producer your job is to inspire a sing/rapper/songwriter to write something compelling to your production. When you follow suit I feel like you become predictable therefore the element of surprise is gone and now you just sound like every other producer or artist.
 

rayc

retroreprobate
"As a music producer your job is to inspire a sing/rapper/songwriter to write something compelling to your production. When you follow suit I feel like you become predictable therefore the element of surprise is gone and now you just sound like every other producer or artist."
I would hope that an artist has written their stuff before coming to a producer who assists them in realizing its potential.
Follow suit? If that follows from the previous sentence then you're saying that if you inspire you're predictable.
I think your definition of producer differs from mine. I know it in the traditional music sense - the facilitator of the recorded piece. I THINK you're coming at it from the "producah" perspective - a person who makes rhythm tracks & arrangements for those as templates or "beats" for augmentation by a singer/lyricist/rapper/songwriter.
Going with a flow or with what you ears tell you CAN work BUT many, many 20 minute/LP side jams have been released on that basis and few are worth the effort. In other words it's not THAT easy.
 
4

4tracker

Guest
Structure is limiting. Just do whatever. I notice bridges are especially horrible. It's difficult to recall ever hearing a good bridge. Obviously "good" is subjective, but I listen to almost every style of music and have an enormous record collection, and can't think of a good bridge. I find the most interesting songs use modulation, tempo, rhythm, etc rather than anything to do with verse/chorus/bridge structure. A song that is constantly building, even if through releasing tension, is impressive.
 

chuckduffy

Well-known member
It's difficult to recall ever hearing a good bridge. Obviously "good" is subjective, but I listen to almost every style of music and have an enormous record collection, and can't think of a good bridge.

One of the greatest bridges ever committed to tape intros with the line - "Bobby! Should I take 'em to the bridge?". The good bridges are out there. Maybe you were joking.
 
4

4tracker

Guest
One of the greatest bridges ever committed to tape intros with the line - "Bobby! Should I take 'em to the bridge?". The good bridges are out there. Maybe you were joking.

James Brown?

Bobby should have said a resounding "NO!" and move on to something better.

What about Led Zeppelin "Where's that confounded bridge?"...maybe an acknowledgement that bridges suck.

If there is a good one out there I'd love to hear it! Songwriters seem a bit obsessed with verse/chorus/bridge formats but I don't think they're very good. It's not a joke just opinion. Obviously mainstream disagrees since it is the standard format. I went through this when writing my book, though...on forums for novels you'd hear people saying that the structure is xyz and you have to abide by it to write a good novel. Not true. In a novel, the plot and 3 dimensional characters are all that's important.

In music, repetition and rhythm and melody are important. Structure not so much. Bridges are the weakest of the structures, too. Usually they are some inversion of the chords in the verse/chorus that weren't good enough to be a verse/chorus of a new song, so they get rehashed as a bridge for variety. It's bad. Maybe a very thoughtful bridge that moves the song or builds it is a good thing, but I can't think of one off hand.
 

fat_fleet

Swollen Member
One thing I notice about my songs is that, in chronological order of conceptualization, any given song sounds pretty similar to the one just before it or just after it. So like say I write songs A, B, C, D, and E in that order. Song A sounds kinda like song B, while song B sounds like song C in a slightly different way, while songs A and C don't sound as much like each other.. Songs A and E sound nothing like each other, but if you take B, C, and D into account there's an obvious progression in terms of harmonic/rhythmic/conceptual ideas etc.

Just shootin the shit here, but has anyone else noticed this in their own stuff?
 

DM60

Well-known member
Yes, and that is huge problem for me. I am trying to keep each song creative and not keep repeating myself. That is why I have been using a capo and trying to get song uniqueness (couldn't figure out how else to say it). One thing I have tried in the past is to listen to different genres, timing, keys to see if I can break up my songs and look for inspiration.

Yea, have the same problem, gets worse the more songs you write.
 

Resurrect

New member
One thing I notice about my songs is that, in chronological order of conceptualization, any given song sounds pretty similar to the one just before it or just after it. So like say I write songs A, B, C, D, and E in that order. Song A sounds kinda like song B, while song B sounds like song C in a slightly different way, while songs A and C don't sound as much like each other.. Songs A and E sound nothing like each other, but if you take B, C, and D into account there's an obvious progression in terms of harmonic/rhythmic/conceptual ideas etc.

Just shootin the shit here, but has anyone else noticed this in their own stuff?

Absolutely. To fix this, if I play a set, I make sure I mix the songs up, chronologically.
 

fat_fleet

Swollen Member
Yes, and that is huge problem for me. I am trying to keep each song creative and not keep repeating myself. That is why I have been using a capo and trying to get song uniqueness (couldn't figure out how else to say it). One thing I have tried in the past is to listen to different genres, timing, keys to see if I can break up my songs and look for inspiration.

Yea, have the same problem, gets worse the more songs you write.

Oh sheesh. For me it's not so much a problem as a tendency. I've noticed it in my songs since I was a teenager (a long time) but my songs don't really sound the same the way you're thinking. What I'm talking about is one song might outright use the same or similar melodic line as the previous, though it'll be in a different context and, to most casual listeners, unrecognizable.

Interesting using a capo- does that really make much difference other than changing the key/pitch? I change the key of my songs all the time to accommodate my voice, but it's still the same song. Listening to different genres seems like it could help with your issues, depending.. but thinking of music in terms of genres could also be adding to the problem. Tough to say without hearing your stuff.
 

andrushkiwt

New member
One thing I notice about my songs is that, in chronological order of conceptualization, any given song sounds pretty similar to the one just before it or just after it. So like say I write songs A, B, C, D, and E in that order. Song A sounds kinda like song B, while song B sounds like song C in a slightly different way, while songs A and C don't sound as much like each other.. Songs A and E sound nothing like each other, but if you take B, C, and D into account there's an obvious progression in terms of harmonic/rhythmic/conceptual ideas etc.

Just shootin the shit here, but has anyone else noticed this in their own stuff?

For sure, but more in time-period-chunks. Like early 2015 sounds like late 2014, yet way different than early 2012, etc... Even if the chord structures are different, and in diff keys, there's something similar about it. But hey, do you notice how some tunes sound "right" on albums and others stick out like a sore thumb? Early Nirvana sounds a lot diff than late Nirvana (the unreleased, still-in-progress stuff). Most bands are like that. I think the main writers get into a groove where they have a bigger picture in mind - bigger than a single song - more like a sound. There's a sound they're after, and that sound can be made from lots of diff chord progressions and tempos, with some work. Once that sound is no longer the object, or some other style/sound comes to mind, they abandon the old. Generalizing here, but surely lots of bands/groups/artists fit that bill.

Also, i have a flash drive full of brief chorus melodies that I listen to once in awhile when I'm not feeling too creative. I listen and go "oh, yeah this was right before I wrote X. I hear the similarity".
 

mjbphotos

What?!?
One thing I notice about my songs is that, in chronological order of conceptualization, any given song sounds pretty similar to the one just before it or just after it. So like say I write songs A, B, C, D, and E in that order. Song A sounds kinda like song B, while song B sounds like song C in a slightly different way, while songs A and C don't sound as much like each other.. Songs A and E sound nothing like each other, but if you take B, C, and D into account there's an obvious progression in terms of harmonic/rhythmic/conceptual ideas etc.

Just shootin the shit here, but has anyone else noticed this in their own stuff?


If I'm not careful, something similar can happen with me. So when I'm writing songs, I try to vary the style to avoid 'they all sound the same syndrome'. So if I've just completed a mostly-acoustic guitar song, the next one I work on will be electric or piano. There's only so many variations on 'song in Eminor'! :rolleyes:
 

HolisticSongs

New member
Hey true-eurt!

I must say I REALLY disagree with miroslav - I think structure is immensely important in songwriting. It really is the difference between an interesting, captivating song and a boring one.

Hope this helps :)
 
Last edited by a moderator:

BeatToBeat

New member
Hey Everyone - I'm new to the community but I'm a Berklee grad and I studied songwriting. I host a podcast where I interview some of the best underground musicians in New England and we discuss a lot of songwriting techniques - thought maybe you guys would find this episode interesting I interview Prateek Poddar and we talk a ton about our respective songwriting techniques - hope its pertinent to this threadhttps://soundcloud.com/user-985906752/the-songwriters-toolbox-with-prateek-poddar-beat-to-beat-episode-11


Also I'd like to make a statement on structure. It can be cool - and lack of structure or through-composed elements can be cool - it really comes down to setting up an expectation and either fulfilling it or not fulfilling it. On one hand we have repetition - like in a Verse-Chorus-Verse-Chorus-Bridge-Chorus tune it's all about bringing peoples ears back to something repetitively, yet notice that the entire structure still evolves with the addition of a bridge, because repetition is a songwriters best friend until you do it one too many times- then it becomes stale, and nobody likes stale beats. Or on the other hand in a through-composed piece it's all about setting up little expectations and repeating something within a section and then moving on and never coming back. Both of these structural songwriting tactics are totally valid it really comes down to how memorable do you want your song to be...not like in a good/bad way- but just keeping in mind - utilizing repetition makes things memorable, through-composing makes things not-as memorable yet give that feeling of adventure, not knowing where the next change will take us. I personally think the best songwriters blend these two structural ideas to create their own personal roller coaster for listeners to enjoy.
 

Pungent

New member
I definitely have to agree with all of you. There is not just one structure its a limitless universe! I tend to always switch it up.
 

BikerDude

New member
Whenever I feel like the verse chorus bridge yadda yadda thing is getting old I just put on someone like Tom Petty and I'm put in my place.
That said I've been trying to shatter the mold lately.
Someone mentioned just one chord or riff and yeah that is doable.
In fact it can be very powerful but I've found that you need to lay on other riffs that just come in and out for different sections.
A LOT of the new techno metal does this. A droning undercurrent with parts that drop in with only subtle changes to the main theme if any at all.
Just changes of volume and intensity. It can actually be more powerful than a full on change of chords for a bridge or chorus.
Well everybody knows this.
For instance. There is a small excuse for a bridge but that's about it.
Mostly just a change of volume and a small guitar riff to highlight the chorus.
The chords for the chorus are only slightly different.

YouTube
 
Last edited:

KrystianL

New member
One of the trickiest ways of writing songs for me is lyrics before music. I might come up with a single line and then fidget with the guitar until something works but I rarely have a whole song written before I have a musical idea almost completed. I think that's had a pretty big effect on the structure of my songs because when I do finally finish lyrics I have a wide range of parts to choose from and often I am attached to many of them. I find that the parts of my songs with the most structure are usually the verses. My favorite song I've written is organized like this... (keep in mind each entry I have listed as verse is 4 lines.)

Verse
Bridge (with lyrics+instrumental section)
Verse (only two lines this time)
Chorus
Verse
Bridge (with lyrics but no instrumentation this time)
Chorus (alternate chorus that transitions into the solo)
Solo
Verse (again only two lines this time)

While on paper this looks extremely cohesiveness, I think the song flows pretty nicely and keeps the listener interested because something new is introduced often before falling back into the droney kind of verse. The song is very inspired by The Doors "The End" but I wanted to make something a little more structured while retaining the descent into madness that the song has.

This is just an example to say I kind of just don't think about the structure until I listen to what I've done and it doesn't sound like its working. The above song went through about 5 iterations before I felt, "this is the one!" and so now maybe I can finally record it ;) .
 
Top