Getting the structure right for your song can make or break the flow and impact of a piece. Thankfully there are some solid principles which can help guide you when structuring your music.

Whether you’ve got some experience songwriting or you’re just starting out, I’ve put together some tips for you to help you learn how to structure your songs more effectively.

Use Song Structure Templates

If you’re still learning about song structure it can be really helpful to know the basic structure of most popular songs. Here is a loose song structure that is common to a lot of popular music:

  • Introduction (2 – 4 bars)
  • Verse 1 (16 bars)
  • Pre-Chorus (4 bars)
  • Chorus (8 bars)
  • Verse 2 (8 bars)
  • Pre-Chorus (4 bars)
  • Chorus (8 bars)
  • Bridge (8 bars)
  • Chorus Repeat/Outro (16 bars)

Restricting your choices by adhering to a set song structure actually forces you to be more creative. This helps you to learn so many more things about songwriting than just structure. This songwriting scaffolding helps you get creative and removes decision fatigue meaning you can focus on other important songwriting elements.

Feeling A Songs Structure

So much of songwriting and music production is managing the energy/feel of the song. This doesn’t necessarily mean that song structures need to be predictable instead your decisions about song structure need to be purposeful.

Learning to “feel” when things need to shift from one section to another in a song is an important skill to develop. If you’re working with the basic structure above it’s really helpful at giving you clues to help you “feel” how the elements of the song need to develop in each section before shifiting into the next. If that pre-chorus is 4 bars and it’s not transitioning right, you know you need to fix it.

When Things Aren’t Working

When you’re elbows deep in writing or recording a song, it is super frustrating when something off but you can’t put your finger on it. This is where you need to step away and get some much needed perspective.

A great way to find out whether the structure is work is to listen to your songs outside of the studio environment. Bounce a rough mix, go for drive or pop in some earbuds and go to a favourite spot to listen. Stepping back like this helps to highlight when there are issues. Take some notes on your phone or on paper about sections and elements that aren’t feeling right.

When you get back in the studio you can tackle those sections and elements with purpose and focus.

Hopefully the ideas in this post will help you in structuring your music more purposefully and with clarity. It takes time to develop these skills so use song structure template to help get you oriented and then practice writing against it to help you learn how to feel out the sections.

Let me know if you have any questions or it you’d like to see more posts about songwriting structure.

All the best with your music making.

Photo by Soundtrap on Unsplash

1 Comment

3 Ingredients For Great Songwriting Structure - Banana Llama Studios · April 3, 2021 at 6:02 am

[…] the last post I talked about songwriting structure in terms of traditional popular music songwriting structures and the energy/feel of a songs as the guiding force in helping to get a working structure for your […]

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