Songwriting Techniques 6: Structure and Arrangement

In the latest article from the Songwriting Techniques series we will be looking at ‘Structure and Arrangement’. It is important to understand the function of the different sections of a song and how they can be built up and combined to create a finished song structure. Below is a list of common sections:

Introduction – The beginning section of the track, it sets the scene and it should aim to catch the attention of the listener.
Verse – The verse is the main story-telling part of the song. Verses are often repeated but the lyrics and melody will probably change slightly each time.
Pre-Chorus – This is the part of a song that links the verse section and the chorus; it will usually build up from the verse in preparation for the chorus.
Chorus – The chorus is the most important part of a song and it is usually the catchiest part of the song. It is often the part that we remember and is repeated several times in the track with the same lyrics and melody.
Bridge – A bridge is used to link 2 different sections.
Middle 8 – A middle 8 is often found in the middle or towards the end of a track, it will have a different musical and lyrical theme to the rest of the song and it adds a contrast to the other vocal sections. It keeps a song interesting and usually uses different musical ideas.
Instrumental / Solo – An instrumental / solo section is used to offer a break from the vocals.
Outro – This is the opposite of an introduction and is used to end a track.

With this in mind, why not try the following approaches to structure and arrangement:

1. Try to write a song that is made up of 4 sections, all of which are different. Writing 4 different sections will make for an interesting progressive song structure that keeps the listener on their toes.

2. If you are wanting to write a song with a simple structure, try using just 2 sections and repeat them. For example, your structure could be: Verse, Chorus, Verse, Chorus, Chorus.

3. Choose a song that you like, listen to it, and write down its structure (eg. intro, verse, chorus, etc). You can then use this structure to start building up your own track using this outline.

4. If you have written a pop/rock song with multiple parts, why not try stripping the song right down to just an acoustic guitar or piano and vocals. This is a great way to test the strength of a song, if it still works in such a stripped back manner you are on to a winner.

5. Why not try producing a remix of one of your own songs. You could take samples from your own original track and aim it at a different audience and context, for example, you could look at creating a dance remix.