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Writing Your Chorus

The chorus usually contains the title and central theme of the song and is the most memorable part of the song. Most producers will agree that a hit song has to have a chorus with a memorable melody. This is the music hook that gets stuck in your head that invades your thoughts and makes you really want to hear the song again.

Repetition is key to having people remember your songs, but too much and your music will quickly sound stale. Variation is the key to building repetitive musical themes that never seem to get old. After you have heard a theme a couple of times in a song, (read chorus or verse) your ear will want to hear something new. Now is the time to add a variation of some sort, possibly adding a new instrumental or vocal line, or breaking it down. Changing the length of a part or stopping early before a change can add a lot of interest, and trying a chord substitution can often add a bit of tension right where it’s needed.

"I just wrote one song at a time. Kinda like an alcoholic. One day at a time". - Neil Young

Songs in an AABA structure usually incorporate the chorus or hook of the song in each “A” section. The title of the song is often to be found in the first or last line of the “A” section. The remainder of the lyrics will change from part to part, much like typical verses in a verse / chorus structure. Most of the time the “A” and “B” sections will be the same length (8 bars) although like any rule in music this one has exceptions as well.

Verse / Chorus / Bridge structure. In the traditional verse chorus format, the song will build to the climax of the chorus. The verse leads to the chorus and the chorus completes the verse. A verse will almost always feel incomplete without the chorus, whereas an “A” section can usually stand up alone as a complete thought or concept. The chorus is usually the most memorable and singable part of the song.

"Affluence separates people. Poverty knits 'em together. You got some sugar and I don't; I borrow some of yours. Next month you might not have any flour; well, I'll give you some of mine". - Ray Charles

Contrast can be built throughout the song by using different progressions for each part of the song e.g. Verse, Lift, Chorus, and Bridge. The chorus should be repeated at least three times and in many songs the chorus is repeated two or three times with some variation at the end of the song. Often the verse and chorus music is very similar, so songwriters will often use other elements to keep the song interesting.

"Happiness is like a cloud, if you stare at it long enough, it evaporates". - Sarah McLachlan

The truth is that very few songs come to an artist complete. 99.95% of the time a small flash of inspiration is nurtured into a complete song. Much like a movie script is developed and re-written many times before the director even sees it, a song is slowly developed and refined.

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