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How to Use Song Structure Templates to Boost Your Songwriting Skills

How to Use Song Structure Templates to Boost Your Songwriting Skills

For beginner songwriters, the vast world of music composition can seem daunting. How are you supposed to write a hit song when it seems like everything has already been said and done, by people way more skilled than you? Don’t panic now, every successful artist has had these doubts at the start of their career. 

Luckily, understanding and utilizing song structure templates can significantly streamline the process, making it easier to create cohesive and engaging songs. Song structure refers to the arrangement of different sections in a song, such as verses, choruses, and bridges. This article will explore several popular song structures, offering templates and tips to help budding songwriters craft their next hit. Let’s get right to it. 

Why song structure matters

Song structure is crucial because it provides a roadmap for your composition. It helps in organizing ideas, creating a sense of progression, and maintaining listener interest. A well-structured song can evoke emotions, tell a story, and leave a lasting impression on the audience. By familiarizing yourself with common song structures, you can focus more on creativity, while ensuring your song remains accessible and enjoyable.

5 Commonly used song structures

1. Verse-Chorus Form (ABAB)

Template: Verse - Chorus - Verse - Chorus - Bridge - Chorus

Example: "Someone Like You" by Adele

The verse-chorus form is one of the most popular song structures in contemporary music. It alternates between verses, which build the narrative, and choruses, which deliver the main message or hook. A bridge can be added for variety, offering a contrast before returning to the final chorus.

2. AABA Form

Template: Verse (A) - Verse (A) - Bridge (B) - Verse (A)

Example: "Over the Rainbow" by Judy Garland

The AABA form, also known as the 32-bar form, is a staple in classic pop and jazz standards. It consists of two similar sections (A), followed by a contrasting bridge (B), and concludes with a return to the initial section (A). This structure is particularly effective for storytelling.

3. Verse-Pre-Chorus-Chorus Form

Template: Verse - Pre-Chorus - Chorus - Verse - Pre-Chorus - Chorus - Bridge - Chorus

Example: "Firework" by Katy Perry

Adding a pre-chorus can create a build-up that heightens the impact of the chorus. This form is widely used in pop music to create dynamic shifts and maintain listener interest.

4. Verse-Refrain Form

Template: Verse - Refrain - Verse - Refrain - Bridge - Refrain

Example: "Blowin' in the Wind" by Bob Dylan

The verse-refrain structure is similar to the verse-chorus form but with a shorter, often repeated refrain instead of a full chorus. This format is excellent for folk and narrative-driven songs.

5. AAA Form

Template: Verse - Verse - Verse (each with a different lyrical variation)

Example: "Scarborough Fair" by Simon & Garfunkel

The AAA form consists of multiple verses without a chorus or bridge. Each verse may vary in lyrics, but the melody remains consistent. This structure suits lyrical storytelling and traditional ballads.

Tips for Using Song Structures

  • Start simple - Begin with basic structures like the verse-chorus form. As you become more comfortable, experiment with adding bridges or pre-choruses.
  • Focus on the hook - Ensure your chorus or refrain is catchy and memorable. This is often the most impactful part of the song
  • Vary dynamics - Use different sections to create dynamic contrasts. For example, make the verses quieter and the chorus more powerful
  • Tell a story - Use the structure to build a narrative or emotional journey. Each section should contribute to the overall story or theme.
  • Experiment - Don't be afraid to mix and match different structures. Music is an art form, and innovation can lead to unique and compelling songs.
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How to get better at using song structures in your songwriting 

How can you improve your songwriting skills and use song structure principles to your advantage? Here are some practical tips to help you elevate your writing skills in no time.

1. Study popular song structures

Break down your favorite songs into their structural components. Note where the verses, choruses, bridges, and other sections occur. Try to figure out the song structures and write something using that same template to see what you come up with. Do this for songs with different structures to really diversify and hone your skills.

2. Practice writing songs

This goes without saying, but the more you practice writing songs, the better you will get at it and the easier your words will flow. Set aside time each day or week to write some new songs and experiment with writing different song structures to see what works best for your style. 

3. Listen actively

This is an easy thing to incorporate into your daily routine without too much effort. You’re probably already listening to music on a daily basis, so why not listen and try to focus on the structure of the song this time? Pay attention to how the songs are structured, and identify verses, choruses, bridges, just for fun. In time, you will become proficient in this and will be able to figure out the structure of a song on the first listen. 

4. Study music theory

Learning the basics of music theory, including rhythmic patterns, melodies, harmonies, and the circle of fifths can go a long way in helping you figure out song structures that appeal to the listener’s ear. 

5. Use technology

Embrace technology and use DAWs, digital songwriting apps, and even AI tools to experiment with melodies, songs, and song arrangements. You might learn new things along the way and hone your songwriting skills in a short matter of time. 

6. Get feedback 

One of the best ways to progress and improve your skills as a songwriter and musician is to get valuable feedback from other musicians or mentors. If you have other musicians in your entourage that you can reach out to for some feedback, you shouldn’t hesitate to do so. If not, feel free to reach out to the network of professionals at Xposure Music and get 1:1 feedback from some of the top names in the music industry. 

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Frequently asked questions

Why is song structure important?

Song structure is crucial because it provides a framework that guides the listener through the musical narrative, ensuring coherence and engagement. A well-defined structure, such as verse-chorus-verse, helps create familiarity and predictability, making the song more memorable and accessible. It also aids in building emotional dynamics, as different sections (e.g., verses, choruses, bridges) serve distinct purposes—introducing themes, delivering catchy hooks, and offering contrast or resolution. Ultimately, a solid song structure enhances the overall impact of the song, facilitating a stronger connection with the audience.

How can I learn to use song structure?

Learning to use song structure involves studying and analyzing existing songs, practicing writing within different frameworks, and seeking feedback to refine your skills. Start by breaking down your favorite songs to understand their structure, noting how verses, choruses, and bridges are arranged. Regularly practice writing songs using various common structures like verse-chorus-verse or AABA to get comfortable with different formats. Use tools like songwriting apps or DAWs to experiment with arrangements, and consider studying music theory to deepen your understanding. Finally, collaborate with other songwriters and seek constructive feedback to continually improve your use of song structure.

Join Xposure Music and gain access to some of the best music industry professionals in the U.S. Top experts from Sony, Columbia, Def Jam, or Universal have already joined our platform, and they’re ready to give invaluable, on-point feedback on your work, which can help you land that dream record deal or publishing deal you’ve been working towards. Sign up now and reap the rewards.

If you’re looking to kickstart your music career but have limited resources, we can help you get funding for your next project while staying in control of your own work and career trajectory. You keep 100% ownership of your masters and get an advance ranging from $1,000 to $3 million to get your career off the ground. Get an estimate now and start turning your dream into reality.

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ABOUT THE AUTHOR

Gregory Walfish
Co-founder of Xposure Music, Gregory Walfish stands at the intersection of music, tech, and culture. With a software engineering background, he's passionate about artist development and technology.

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