Mapping Out A Song

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Okay, it’s time to start looking at how a song really works.

Songs are generally made out of sections, and those sections are referred to differently, depending on the kind of music.

For now, we’ll think in terms of a pop song. Pop songs are generally made out of the following types of section, most of which will probably already be familiar to you…

Chorus

The part that everyone generally remembers! It will usually take place several times and almost always contains the same words. An example is the “Bye bye, Mis American Pie” part of “American Pie”.

Verse

The parts that tell the story, there are usually several of these, and they sound similar, but the words are usually different each time.

Bridge

A short section that sometimes connects the verse to the chorus.

Middle 8

An extra section that’s entirely different from the other parts. Called “Middle 8″ as they’re often in the middle of the song and are frequently 8 bars long.

Solo/Instrumental

A part that has no words, and usually features a unique musical part played on some kind of “lead” instrument, like an electric guitar, trumpet, saxphone, violin. These are usually just verses with the lead instrument playing instead of someone singing, but might be a unique part.

Intro/Outro

A bit of music that’s used to start or end the song.

In Practice

A typical song may look like this:

Intro
Verse
Verse
Chorus
Verse
Chorus
Verse
Chorus

Or could be much more complex…

Intro
Verse
Verse
Bridge
Chorus
Verse
Bridge
Chorus
Solo/Instrumental
Middle 8
Verse
Bridge
Chorus

Or simpler…

Verse
Chorus
Verse
Chorus
Verse
Chorus

… but it will almost always be made up of those kinds of parts, so once you understand them, you’ll be on your way.

Put on one of your favourite songs now. Listen to it closely, and try to identify all the different sections.

Knowing how to “map out” a song in this way is essential. We need to break the song up into manageable bits so that we can tackle each one at once.

If you have any problems doing this, just fill in the form below and ask for help! I’ll get back to you as soon as I can.

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