Now we’re going to look at song structures.
Song structure is the structure of the song. Obvious isn’t it? However, there are different types of structures, suited for different types of songs. Each structure has its own benefits and drawbacks. Each structure gives the song a different feel.
Today, we’ll look at the different types of structures and their components. The only thing that is present in all kinds of structures is their components. Each structure has them, however their length and order varies from structure to structure. The song components are:
- After/Before Chorus
A standard verse is 16 bars. That’s 4 quatrains per verse, 3 verses per song, which is enough for you to give your point of view. That’s where you actually do the rapping, showing your rap skills and your ability to ride the beat. It’s the most important component of a song in my opinion.
Nowadays, you get to see verses that are around 8 and 12 bars. It’s a format, taken from pop music and it’s used when your song is concentrating on variety of elements.
However, if you want to tell a story or something which has more depth to it, you can use the 24 bars verse. The song usually gets longer, plus you might have to cut back on the chorus, but you’ll have the opportunity to say what you want to say fully. So, bottom line? A verse can be: a)8bars b)12bars c)16bars d)24bars.
It’s the place where you do the rapping.
Now the Chorus is important too. It’s main aim is to sum up the whole meaning of the song. Also, choruses are used and constructed in a way, which helps the listener to remember your track easier.
They are sometimes called “hooks”, which literally means “Hook up the Listener”. Its length can vary between 4 to 8 bars. In most cases, the chorus is 1 quatrain which is repeated twice, however there is no rule to this. You can repeat one couplet 4 times or have 2 individual quatrains, with no repeat.
Those two are not always present and not that important. However, when included they can reinforce the feeling of a song. They are both usually up to 8 bars long. They are inserted before the start/end of the song. They can be anything really, from regular speech to sex sounds, depending on the content of the song.
Now, not a lot of people know about this, that’s why you don’t see the up and coming rappers using it. However, all the experienced rappers know about it and are not scared to use it. 50 Cent’s first album was full of songs with after or before choruses.
All there is, it’s a 4 liner(in most cases), which has the job of assisting the chorus. Most of the times it’s repeating a statement or something really simple. Since the chorus is the element which makes the song memorable, the after/before chorus is there to assist it, in this objective. Most of the times, it’s so repetitive that you can’t stop repeating it inside of your head.
The bridge is an element, which is placed between two choruses, usually at the end of the song. The bridge is 8 bars and serves as a breath of variety for the projects.
It’s being proved that listeners attention span drops right after the second chorus, if the song continues as it began. That’s why, the bridge is placed there, to give something new to the audience and keep their attention a little longer.
Now you know about all the components of a rap song. Let’s continue with the different types of song structures. There is no concrete number to the types of structures, so we cannot cover all the possible combinations. Therefore, we’ll cover the most popular ones.
The Standard Structure
This is the standard structure. It has 3 verses and 3 choruses. Used commonly due to the fact that it’s neither too long nor too short. This song structure length is around the 4 minute mark, which is the usually norm.
- People seem to like this structure.
- The Choruses are long enough, making the song easily remembered.
- It’s content orientated. Because of the standard structure, the listener pays more attention to the content.
- It’s verses are not long enough to tell a story.
- Unless your content is not good, the song would be easily forgotten, since it’s one of the many.
- Some listeners might find it tedious after the second chorus.
The Pop Structure
Before Chorus(4)-Chorus(8)-Verse(8)-Before Chorus(4)-Chorus(8)-After Chorus(4)-Verse(8)- Before Chorus(4)-Chorus(8)-After Chorus(4)-Bridge(8)- Before Chorus(4)-Chorus(8)-After Chorus(4)
This one is concentrating on variety. The structure usually works when you have thought of a great chorus and want to showcase it. It’s great for pop songs and audiences that get bored easily.
- Introduction with a Chorus is a great way to let the listener know what’s the song all about from the start.
- It makes the song more memorable, due to the higher number of choruses in it.
- It has great variety, capturing people’s interest for longer.
- It concentrates too much on your chorus, leaving your verses out in the cold.
- It’s possible that you condition your audience to just wait for the choruses, not paying attention to your verses.
- It might get repetitive, because of the high number of chorus repetitions.
The Story Telling Structure
Okay, now this structure is used when the song is in the form of a story, with introduction, characters and so on. The Length of the verses is 24 bars, giving you more writing space for developing your story. The choruses are smaller, otherwise the song would’ve been too long. This song structure can go up to the 5 minute mark.
This structure concentrates on the content and the emotion of the story, rather than the repetition of the choruses. The only way people would remember your song is if your story is worth remembering.
- Long verses, giving you an opportunity for the presentation of a fully developed story.
- If the story is well written, it is likely to affect your audience on a bigger scale.
- If the song gets too long, the listener might lose interest quickly.
- If this structure is not used for a story based content, the excessive flow might not grab the attention of the listener.
- It doesn’t have variety, since throughout the most part of the song you are rhyming and the choruses are short.
We’re going to stop here. These are the main types of song structures. All the others are the sub-categories of these. I would recommend trying out each of them. See how they feel. You have to remember though, there is no “right” structure. It all depends on the type of content you have.