Song Forms

There are many song forms used in modern rock and pop but the basic elements are the same for each song. These elements include:

  • Introduction

  • Verses

  • Pre-choruses

  • Choruses (or refrains)

  • Reintroduction(s)

  • Bridge or middle eight

  • Solo section(s)

  • Outro or coda

There are four other types of songs that may not use these elements.

  • Songs built off a riff or single motif (e.g., one-chord jams)

  • Songs that are ever evolving and building with no repeated sections

  • Stories (usually spoken) set to music

  • Songs structured around older forms such as the twelve-bar blues

It would be rare to find any one song that uses all of the elements. A song's design is usually based on the tastes and goals of the songwriter(s). Producers may also influence a song's structure. These days, songs are rarely founded on the Great American Songbook formula which was the basis for hit after hit in the pre-rock era. Great American Songbook tunes often used two sections called A and B. In the 1930s and 1940s, the most common form was AABA and tunesmiths such as Cole Porter, George Gershwin, Hoagie Carmichael, Richard Rodgers, Jerome Kern, Harold Arlen, and others regularly used this song structure.

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