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  • Song structure in a "pop" song...

    Hey guys.

    Last Sunday I was bored @ home and since I wasn't doing anything special I loaded up my PC, plugged in my guitar, called out Cubase and started recording. The thing is that lately I noticed that some of my songs were reaching 4 almost 5 minutes in length and I really like short songs (that way I don't make people's ears bleed for a long time! ). Usually my songs were:

    Verse1, Verse 2, "little" bridge, Chorus, Verse3, Verse4, LB, Chorus, Bridge,
    Chorus, Chorus.

    Then I tried:

    Verse1, Verse2, LB, Chorus, Bridge, LB, Chorus, Chorus

    It did shorten the songs a little.
    Lately I've been doing songs like this:

    Verse 1, Verse 2, LB, Chorus, Bridge, Chorus, Chorus.

    With this structure I'm staying at between 3 to 3:30 and I believe that's a sweet spot.

    So question is, do you have a favorite structure for your songs?
    Do you "mold" your lyrics to match specific structures or do you basically write your lyrics like poems and then break them down in the structure you want?

    That's it.

    Thanks guys.
    <div class="signaturecontainer"><a href="http://www.soundclick.com/gelocks" target="_blank">http://www.soundclick.com/gelocks</a><br />
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    eagle1 signing off...</div>

  • #2

    Do you "mold" your lyrics to match specific structures or do you basically write your lyrics like poems and then break them down in the structure you want?


    Sometimes the entire song (music, lyrics, structure) all comes flowing out in one shot.

    Other times I'll usually work on each section semi-independently... meaning that I'll write them as building blocks to be snapped into place as needed. I haven't created a Frankensong yet though. I'll keep in mind the topic / theme of the song and then rewrite once everything comes together to make it tighter / better.

    Rewriting is the secret to better work (whether it's songwriting or writing).

    Neall
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    • #3
      For short pop songs I think verse > chorus > verse > chorus > bridge > chorus is the most common structure. I usually start with this structure in mind and don't add anything else (extra verses, pre-chorus) unless I really have something else important to say.

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      • #4
        Another fun one is AABA. Where the A section uses the name of the song in either the first line, last line, or both.

        The B section does a typical Bridge, then back to the A, using the title consistently per each A section.

        That's one that's fun to use for a change. It's got a great sense of tradition but sounds very different and way underused today.
        Thomas Jefferson said... "The day will come when the mystical generation of Jesus, by the Supreme Being as His father, in the womb of a virgin will be classed with the fable of the generation of Minerva in the brain of Jupiter." hmmm...

        Comment


        • #5
          I live to the idea that most innovative and invigorating music is produced when a preconception of musical form is completly ignored, but the creative vitality is available in full concentration to substantiate and to concretize the musical idea. This no matter how far out this musical idea may is, and you will be surprised of the form you created when you look at your form later, quasi after the fact.

          .

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          • #6
            This no matter how far out this musical idea may is, and you will be surprised of the form you created when you look at your form later, quasi after the fact.

            .


            I'm not sure I follow. And doesn't "quasi" mean "as if"? I'm not sure what's happening there.

            I generally assume that I'm going to be building a song on a verse-chorus-Vs.-Ch-Bridge-Ch., structure, with a possible break after the bridge. It's hard to go wrong with that structure. I occasionally have another verse's worth of stuff to say that doesn't fit as a bridge (a bridge should be a shift both musically and lyrically), and so I go Vs.-Ch. x3, and I'll usually have to put an instrumental break after the second chorus.

            I do love Lee Knight's AABA pattern, and I occasionally set out to write songs following that pattern. Other times, I hear an interesting structural element in something I'm listening to (pre-chorus, two different bridges, intro/outro, key changes, etc.) and I'll try to write using that pattern. Those often turn out to be academic exercises, rather than effective songs.
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            • #7
              I live to the idea that most innovative and invigorating music is produced when a preconception of musical form is completly ignored, but the creative vitality is available in full concentration to substantiate and to concretize the musical idea. This no matter how far out this musical idea may is, and you will be surprised of the form you created when you look at your form later, quasi after the fact.

              .


              I have a computer algorithm into which I can input a paragraph of dense, academic text and have it generate an organically beautiful structure from the chaos of academi-speak that was input. I find that the writing of classically trained composers who speak about 8 languages create the most interesting structures.




              [For those who don't know, Angelo composes beautiful music for film and other media from his base in Switzerland. He's one of our more erudite -- and funny -- members here at HC. But watch out for his distinctly European sense of humor and sensibilities. Those wacky Euros have some kind of idea that the naked human body is beautiful and weapons of war and images of destruction are ugly. Where do they come up with that stuff?]


              music and social stuff | The Forgotify Files | A Year of Songs | mutant pop on facebook | roots acoustic on facebook


              The chorus seems a little weak... I think it needs more lasers.

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              • #8
                While I'm more in the my-songs-structure-themselves camp, I have to say that my brief songs tend to fall into things like VVCVC (and if the song is a two verse wonder, the third V repeats the first verse), or VCVCBVC [typically where the bridge is some sort of middle 4 or 8 instrumental or breakdown... When I'm working in a production mode, my music has tended to lean toward the trip hop/folktronica end of things, so I'm probably more likely to do a breakdown or textural bridge than a guitar or keyboard melodic excursion [but I don't really make any rules... I try to figure out what the song wants (that's not a pathetic fallacy -- I'm a cyberpagan -- I believe songs are living information [whaddya think about that, Angelo? ])].

                Often, of course, there are brief intros and I often use a repeat chorus outro.

                (Dang -- it's getting hard for me to follow my own parenthetic statements. It's funny... have you ever thought about how a bridge is kind of like a parenthetic statement? Notice how many bridges seem to suggest the internal thoughts of the singer? Right down to the modern cliche of slapping a "telephone-style" filter on the voice? Anyhow... where was I?)


                music and social stuff | The Forgotify Files | A Year of Songs | mutant pop on facebook | roots acoustic on facebook


                The chorus seems a little weak... I think it needs more lasers.

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                • #9
                  The form I most frequently use is verse-chorus-verse-chorus-chorus. Sometime's I'll do a little pre-chorus leading to the chorus. It used to be that every song I wrote had to have a bridge, but most of the songs I write now don't have one. I don't like to stick one in unless it's absolutely necessary, because it tends to get predictable after a while.

                  Speaking of song length, the average length of my songs is 4 minutes and 30 seconds--it's surprising how many of my songs come out to this length. I really don't know why--it isn't like they're all the same (at least I don't think so). I really want to try and write songs that go below 4 minutes. Maybe that isn't much of a goal, but I think there's a lot of value in keeping it short and sweet.
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                  • #10




                    Bluey, is my english that cryptic? You descibe me, as if I only compose some far out academic avantgarde rubish where more people are on stage then in the audience, he-hee...

                    For the fun of it, and to prove you wrong, here a recent pop ballad with a traditional form and a very old structure as first time used in the 16th century

                    Download link:
                    http://www.sendspace.com/file/79ambr

                    File Name: I Believe In Angels - demo mix.mp3 (3MB)
                    Description: a new pop song with a very old form

                    .

                    Comment


                    • #11
                      Prove me wrong?


                      I didn't think I even said anything that made sense!



                      Very pretty, Angelo.

                      I'm afraid I wasn't able to peel apart the structure on my first listening (I was so in awe of the string arrangement and production )... unlike so many of us, here, I didn't start playing music until I was (legally if not maturity-wise) an adult (and after being told by a at least two music teaching professionals while I was growing up that I had -- and I quote -- "no musical talent whatsoever") ... so some of these things don't come as naturally to me as they do to natural born musicians.


                      music and social stuff | The Forgotify Files | A Year of Songs | mutant pop on facebook | roots acoustic on facebook


                      The chorus seems a little weak... I think it needs more lasers.

                      Comment


                      • #12
                        The server must be busy.. I couldn't get it to load Angelo. I'll try again later.

                        On the concept of no form... I think it's wonderful. Only if the writer knows how to write to form first. Picasso could paint beautifully in a traditional style. Watch "The Mystery of Picasso" if you doubt this. His nontraditional style resonated because he based it on, or "off" rather... tradition. It deviates... and he knew damn well what it deviated from.

                        So my point... Learn song structures. Write using a lot of different ones. Then bend them. Break them. Make them whine like a ******************** at your facility at which you disregard them all together while still knowing them and their ways.

                        What the hell am I talking about?!?!?
                        Thomas Jefferson said... "The day will come when the mystical generation of Jesus, by the Supreme Being as His father, in the womb of a virgin will be classed with the fable of the generation of Minerva in the brain of Jupiter." hmmm...

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                        • #13
                          Angelo's download link took a really LONG time to finish loading (not the DL itself -- just the link) because there's an obnoxious animated-with-audio Flash advert on the page that will autoplay after you've forgotten it's even been loading... or maybe it's timed to do that... at any rate, since my volume was up it scared the **************** out of me AND my cat...

                          By the time it finally blurted out its high-pitched "cartoon-voiced" ad pitch, I'd completely forgotten anything was happening in the background.


                          I'm suing Angelo.



                          music and social stuff | The Forgotify Files | A Year of Songs | mutant pop on facebook | roots acoustic on facebook


                          The chorus seems a little weak... I think it needs more lasers.

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                          • #14
                            I have to say that whenever I try to "let the songs write themselves" I get stuck with a 5 minute song. That's why I really asked. I believe most of the songwriters just start writing and maybe even hum a melody while writing to give them a sense of the metric and rhythm to be employed on the song. I'm just experimenting "by force" with other structures and molding songs to those.

                            Thanks for all your comments.
                            I really appreciate them.
                            <div class="signaturecontainer"><a href="http://www.soundclick.com/gelocks" target="_blank">http://www.soundclick.com/gelocks</a><br />
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                            eagle1 signing off...</div>

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                            • #15
                              I have to say that whenever I try to "let the songs write themselves" I get stuck with a 5 minute song. That's why I really asked. I believe most of the songwriters just start writing and maybe even hum a melody while writing to give them a sense of the metric and rhythm to be employed on the song. I'm just experimenting "by force" with other structures and molding songs to those.

                              Thanks for all your comments.
                              I really appreciate them.


                              I let my songs write themselves, and I usually end up with a 3:30 minute song. I'll start a thread on song length to go along with this one. I really can't write a song much over 40 if I try...

                              I normally think that 3 verses is enough to tell any story.... I try to write enough information into my first verse so that the chorus 'pays off' the story... If I can't, I'll go two verses before the chorus very rarely.. (Barbie Doll is one of mine like that)

                              I add a bridge if I think it needs the change up, but not always. I use the bridge to throw in a little related side joke some times... My songs tend to be non serious anyway, so it works for me.... I might wrap it up with a solo, and then an outro.....

                              I know that for me as a listener, after I'm into a song about 4 minutes, I'm ready to be done with it...Since as a writer I'm just 'writing songs I'd like to listen to', I guess I take this with me...

                              The funny thing is, when I'm writing, it's just me and the acoustic guitar, so I have no idea how long what I've written is going to take to perform.... Somehow, they're always between 3:15 and 3:45 minutes....
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