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Hit Song Parts and Sections

In order to fully understand how pop songs are built we need to look at all the essential elements that typical hits songs use for building blocks.

The Introduction: In most pop songs the Intro is brief (under 15 seconds) and often contains the song hook. Typically the intro is a variation of the verse or chorus, or a turnaround.

"I had this song called Helter Skelter, which is just a ridiculous song. So we did it like that, 'cuz I like noise". - Paul McCartney

The Verse: The verse is where you tell the story in the song. Each verse can be a micro-story and have it’s own theme united by the chorus, or the verses can continue the story throughout the song. Usually a good verse will need to be resolved or answered by the chorus. It is this feeling of anticipation that drives hit songs and makes you want to listen to what ‘s next. In the A/A/B/A song structure the verses are the “A” sections usually ending or starting with the hook or title, followed by the bridge or “B” section.

The Lift: The lift is like a pre-chorus or verse “B” section. Often to make a song more interesting, the second half of the verse (“B” section) is written over slightly different chords to lift the song into the chorus section. This technique can help build the anticipation of the impending chorus or even sound like part of the chorus, hence the term pre-chorus. The lift can also be an intro hook revisited before the chorus.

"I was born with music inside me. Music was one of my parts. Like my ribs, my kidneys, my liver, my heart. Like my blood. It was a force already within me when I arrived on the scene. It was a necessity for me-like food or water."
- Ray Charles

The 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.

"Back then people closed their eyes and listened to music. Today there's a lot of images that go with the music. A lot of music is crap and it's all commercial and the images are all trying to sell the record". - Neil Young

The Bridge The bridge is also commonly known as the break, middle eight or release, is the eight-bar B section of a 32-bar AABA song form. Most bridge sections are 8 bars, but you will also find bridges of various lengths in the verse/chorus/bridge and blues with a bridge song forms. The bridge usually occurs only once, has a melody different from other song sections, and contains two or four lines of lyric that do not include the song title or hook. This is where you can create some interest and tension by changing your melody line, modulating to a different key, or adding an instrumental guitar or solo part

"I would start seeing, in just the sense I was saying now, the kind of record it was going to be and what the arrangement demands, and what my vocal part should be in the record. This was all emerging as the song was emerging".
- Art Garfunkel

The Ending: There are many, many different ways to end a song. The point is to leave the listener wanting to hear your song again and again. Endings are especially important when accompanying singers as you can design the "big finish". The chorus fade is also a popular ending.
As you can see, there are six essential building blocks used for creating hit songs.

learn the most effective ways to put these elements together to build the most professional songs of your life

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