Structural Elements Defined
An introduction is a short musical prologue or opening passage. Verses tell the story of the song. In most cases, the first verse begins when the lyrics enter. Pre-choruses are optional. They are essentially a supplementary verse structure designed to make the song build seamlessly into the chorus. The chorus contains the hook. Because of this, the chorus or refrain is the most important song element. Often, it is the chorus that sells the song to the listener.
When the chorus is sung, you will often hear the song title. If there is a reintroduction, it will be used to loop you back to the beginning of the song. You can bet that after a reintroduction, another verse will follow. A bridge is a sudden shift in the song's mood that often connects a chorus to a third verse or a chorus to another heavier chorus. Key changes are common in bridges, but they are not required. A middle eight is a type of bridge that contains eight measures.
Solo sections sometimes act as bridges. In this case, they give instrumentalists a chance to show off their wares. Solo sections can occur over introduction, verse, or chorus chord progressions. They also may occur over completely new chord changes. Last but not least, outros (the opposite of an intro) and codas are end pieces. Often they mirror the song's introduction, but they can also introduce new musical ideas. Songs with outros and codas often end with a compelling musical twist or a powerful build.
FIGURE 12-5 shows the form to David Bowie's “Changes,” a song that features the piano. This song has definite, easy-to-hear parts so it's perfect for analysis. If you don't know this tune, it appears on the album
Each section ends with a double bar line and the 2/4 and 3/4 bars are part of the chorus. Listen to the song and count each measure aloud. The best way to count is to say the measure number on beat one of each bar. In other words, count 1, 2, 3, 4 / 2, 2, 3, 4 / 3, 2, 3, 4 / 4, 2, 3, 4, / 5, 2, 3, 4 / 6, 2, 3, 4 and so on.
FIGURE 12-5: “Changes” Song Structure