Song Forms

Types of Song Structure

As you listen to songs that have become huge hits, you'll notice that most of them have well-written lyrics and memorable melodies. One thing you may not immediately notice though is the song structure. When crafting a song, songwriters also take into consideration the genre they are writing for and what song structure best fits it. There are several different types of song forms, the most common are:

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What is the similarity between the songs "Bridge Over Troubled Water" and "Scarborough Fair?" Both songs are in the AAA song form. This form consists of several verses; it doesn't have a chorus or bridge. It does however have a refrain in which a line (or the title) is repeated at the end of every verse.

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What's nice about songwriting is that there are a variety of song forms you can experiment with. Each song form has a classic format, for example how many lines should each verse have. But there are also some exceptions to the rule. The AABA song form has an opening section (A), a bridge (B) before transitioning to the final A section.

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This type of song form is often used in love songs, pop, country and rock music. Hits like Madonna's "Material Girl" and Whitney Houston's "I Wanna Dance With Somebody" follow this form. One important rule of thumb when writing the verse/chorus song is to try to get to the chorus quickly, so avoid writing verses that are too long.

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The verse/chorus bridge is by far my most favorite song form and is one that I often follow in my songwriting. But it is also one of the most challenging forms to write to because your song may become lengthy. As a general rule, a commercially viable song shouldn't exceed the 3 minute and 30 second mark.

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There are also other types of song structures such as ABAB, ABAC and ABCD, although these aren't as commonly used as the other song forms. Try listening to songs that are currently on top of the Billboard charts and see if you can determine which structure each song follows.