Some Common Song Forms

AAA, the one part song form - Only verses, no chorus or bridge. Often a line (the hook) is repeated at the end of each verse.

AABA (Verse/Bridge) - The A sections are verses - same melody, different words. Section B, the bridge, is musically and lyrically different than the verses, providing some contrast and interest before the final verse.

Verse/Chorus - Generally each verse is followed by a common chorus. The repeating chorus makes the song memorable. The title of the song is often included in the chorus. Sometimes two verses precede the first chorus but it’s a good idea to get to the chorus quickly.

Verse/Chorus/Bridge - Commonly used: Verse-Chorus-Verse-Chorus-Bridge-Chorus. The first verse sets-up the theme of the song with the last line offering a natural progression to the chorus. The chorus is the main theme and is generally the same each time. The bridge adds interest by breaking up the Verse-Chorus pattern. A good bridge is different in melody and lyrics, and often with a change in rhythm.

The “Song Form” Challenge
(for critiques at the SVSA meeting on Feb 25, 2015)

Here’s the challenge: Write a song with 5 or 6 sections where no section repeats, either musically or lyrically. Bring it to our February 2015 meeting where we’ll critique them. Can you make the transitions seamless so that it doesn’t sound like 4 songs smashed together?

Although most commercial songs follow a common song format, occasionally a song ignores the norms and becomes a hit. Roy Orbison’s “In Dreams” is an example (see below). There are six sections, all musically and lyrically different.

You can hear it here:

"In Dreams"  (Roy Orbison)

A candy-colored clown they call ‘The Sandman’
Tiptoes to my room every night
Just to sprinkle stardust and to whisper
"Go to sleep. Everything is all right."

I close my eyes, then I drift away 
Into the magic night. I softly say
A silent prayer like dreamers do.
Then I fall asleep to dream my dreams of you.

In dreams I walk with you. In dreams I talk to you.
In dreams you're mine. All of the time we're together 
In dreams, In dreams.

But just before the dawn, I awake and find you gone.

I can't help it, I can't help it, if I cry.
I remember that you said goodbye.

It's too bad that all these things 
Can only happen in my dreams
Only in dreams In beautiful dreams.