Friday, June 24, 2011

Song Structure

I've been listening to a lot of country music lately (It's summer!).  While listening, I've noticed a new song structure that perhaps is growing in popularity?  It's a subtle difference that fixes one of the annoyances I've had: the repetitiveness of the double chorus at the end of every song.

Wait. You lost me... What is song structure?

Well, all songs are broken down into blocks or chunks of different types. Typically we call these chunks verses and choruses. Other types of blocks exist too -- such as a prechorus, a bridge, an instrumental or solo, and the infamous "tag" which is a line or two that is said repeated at the end of song.

Anyway, when you're a band leader, you notice these chunks, and you use them to describe the direction a song will go before you play it.  For example, for one of our praise team songs at church, we'll probably plan on the following (we call it a road map): Verse 1, Chorus, Verse 2, Chorus, Bridge, Chorus, Chorus, Tag, Tag.

In fact, that is the most popular roadmap of a Christian praise songs.  Think of Blessed Be Your Name, Better Is One Day, or How Great Is Our God as some examples.  It's pretty popular among pop and country music too.  Unfortunately, it often adds to the stereotype that Christian praise music is unoriginal, or repetitive. Some complain that it get's old to sing the chorus that many times at the end.

 I've written several songs, and three of them fit this mold perfectly.

Well, the new pattern I've seen lately is a subtle variation of this. Several songs popular in country music use two different choruses.  Then, at the end of the song, instead of singing the same chorus twice, they combine the two choruses.  Thus you get a roadmap: v1, c1, v2, c2, b, c1, c2.  I like this as it is still predictable (I'm of the mindset that leaving a known pattern too much causes a song to be too "different" to be accepted) yet adds enough variance to be unique and stand out.

An example is Blake Shelton's current #1 hit, Honey Bee.  I'm not a huge fan of the lyrics, (a little too sappy and frankly, too 'country' for me).  Also, You Lie by The Band Perry has the two different but related choruses-- thankfully they only sing one at the end though.

I like the concept -- hope to hear more of it in both country and Christian music.  Spot another example?  Leave it and a link to the lyrics below in the comments.

1 comment:

  1. I like this "new" type of song structure. It took me a minute to think of another example for you -- "Drive" by Alan Jackson! Although that one doesn't repeat all of the choruses at the end...

    Check out this wikipedia page: -- I went off on some fun tangents from there :)


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