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Thread: song part names and definitions

  1. #1
    Registered User extra-solar's Avatar
    Join Date
    Feb 2008

    song part names and definitions

    what are all the names and definitions to song parts?

    I know of intro verse chorus and bridge outro.

  2. #2
    Registered User
    Join Date
    Dec 2007
    Thats about it.

    Beyond that if you have alternate verses you can just call them verse 1 2 3. Sometimes charts refer to separate sections as simply A section B section C section D ect.. If a part repeats you just repeat the letter. Such as an AABA structure.

    Some people call an outro a Coda. You can also have a sign/sine (not sure how its spelt), which when written looks a bit like a dollar sign.

    The purpose of this is to basically save space on paper. So you can have an AABA section, and rather than writing out the B and the A section again, you just put a sign where you want people to being playing once they reach the end of the score.


    << S (sign) goes here.
    Once the performer reaches this point they can return to the sign and play to the end. or at that point you may signal that they play through the B - A then a Coda with

    'D.S al Coda.'

  3. #3
    Registered User
    Join Date
    Sep 2007
    Those you listed are basically all you need for a song. Quite a few songs also have "pre-chorus" or "pre-verse" but you could just as easily define them as "bridge." Basically transitional sections that still keep a similar chord structure as the section before, just building up into a new chord structure. Such as inbetween a verse and chorus, hitting distortion on the verse riff and maybe adding a lead line to flow nicely into the chorus.

    You don't need a whole lot of fancy sections, a simple song structure is usually the most successful. Unless of course you're into progressive rock.

  4. #4
    Punk Freud
    Join Date
    May 2007
    Which means a song averaging at 10 mins and having 973263127 time changes in between.

  5. #5
    Carrots!! All_Ľour_Bass's Avatar
    Join Date
    Apr 2007
    Quote Originally Posted by Babsi
    Which means a song averaging at 10 mins and having 973263127 time changes in between.
    Actually my main beef with say pop music is the oh so predictable structures. Nothing wrong with the structures themselves, you can just tell that some guys are like "Okay we need an intro, then some vereses a chorus a bridge and an outro." (guys repeat process for 13 songs or so) "Okay our new albums out!!"
    Hidden Content Originally Posted by Chim_Chim
    Be different.

    Do it for the OATMEAL.

  6. #6
    Registered User JonR's Avatar
    Join Date
    Dec 2002
    Twickenham, UK
    Instrumental section at beginning, usually based on part of a later section

    Vocal section, whose form (chords and melody) is (usually) repeated later in the song with (usually) different lyrics.

    Vocal section which has the same lyrics each time (as wel as chords and melody). Normally repeated at least once in the course of a song.
    Literally means "voices together", implying this is the bit you're supposed to want to sing along with. (In good songs, you will...)

    Section between verse and chorus, with distinct differences from either. Generally has the effect of building up intensity, preparing you for the singalong hook phrases in the chorus.

    Central section. Usually with vocal, always different chords and melody from verse and chorus. Often in a different key as well. May only be played once in the course of the piece, but sometimes is returned to.
    (More complicated songs can have more than one bridge.)
    Also known as the "middle 8" (traditionally it has 8 bars), "channel" or "inside". (The last 2 are old jazz terms.)

    Short section, usually instrumental, which might be added between a chorus and the next verse, or between other sections, where it would be too abrupt to go straight from one section to the next.

    "Coda" literally means "tail", and is an extra section enabling a song to play out, especially where the chorus contains no suitable ending. However, is usually based on the material from an earlier section.
    A common device is to repeat the intro as an outro.

    Songs can have different forms. You might have several verses, with a chorus after each one, and no bridge at all - sometimes even no chorus. (optional intro and/or outro.) This is an old folk song form, often known as "ballad" form (which doesn't mean "slow", as it does in jazz). You still get this format in rock. (Jimi Hendrix's "Little Wing" is an example - just 2 verses, no chorus or bridge. The solo covers an additional verse, and the outro is a fade on the same sequence.)

    The "AABA" form derives from jazz standard practice, which itself derives from musical show tunes of the 1920s-40s. It consists of 32-bars, each section with 8 bars. The "B" section is the bridge ("middle 8").
    Many people wrongly call B section the "chorus".
    In fact, historically, the whole AABA structure was a "chorus" - this term is still used in jazz to describe the entire form. Musical show tunes usually had a short perfunctory verse tagged on the front, which led into the chorus - which was the bit everyone liked and remembered, so the verses (at least in the hands of jazz players) got dropped.

    An example of a jazz standard with a verse that has survived is "Night and Day". The bit that starts "like the beat beat beat of the tom-tom" is the verse. The chorus proper starts with "Night and day..."

    Pop songs used to be very simple in the 1950s and 60s (and some still are) - just AABA, or verse/chorus, no pre-choruses - but rock songs started to get much fancier in the 70s. Sometimes 2 bridges, sections of varying lengths, pre-choruses, key changes, etc.
    But still, it's very common to stick with sections of 8 or 16 bars in length, perhaps with 4- or 8-bar intros or interludes. This is because these multiples of 4 are familiar, symmetrical and natural-sounding. Songwriters may choose to write a 5- or 6-bar line, but it will be for its deliberate unbalancing effect.
    (It can be surprising how many rock songs - which sound otherwise new or different - have extremely conventional section structures.)

    Bob Dylan's "Lay Lady Lay" is a nice example of a song with a relatively complex, if still regular and traditional, structure.

    VERSE 1 (16-bar AABA format)
    A section (4 bars)
    Lay, lady, lay, lay across my big brass bed
    A section (4 bars)
    Lay, lady, lay, lay across my big brass bed
    B section (4 bars)
    Whatever colors you have in your mind
    I'll show them to you and you'll see them shine
    A section (4 bars)
    Lay, lady, lay, lay across my big brass bed

    VERSE 2 (as above)
    A - Stay, lady, stay, stay with your man awhile
    A - Until the break of day, let me see you make him smile
    B - His clothes are dirty but his hands are clean
    And you're the best thing that he's ever seen
    A - Stay, lady, stay, stay with your man awhile

    BRIDGE (8 bars)
    Why wait any longer for the world to begin
    You can have your cake and eat it too
    Why wait any longer for the one you love
    When he's standing in front of you

    VERSE 3 (16-bar AABA)
    Lay, lady, lay, lay across my big brass bed
    Stay, lady, stay, stay while the night is still ahead
    I long to see you in the morning light
    I long to reach for you in the night
    Stay, lady, stay, stay while the night is still ahead

    So overall, it's an AABA format (16+16+8+16 = in jazz terms, a long "chorus" of 56 bars), but each 16-bar "verse" is also in AABA format (4+4+4+4).

    The most common rock format is as follows:

    CHORUS (possibly with pre-chorus)
    CHORUS (possibly with pre-chorus)
    possible repeat of CHORUS

    The most common length for verse, chorus or bridge is 16 bars. 8 bars each, or a mix of 8 and 16 bars, is next most common.

    Any SOLOS will tend to come after the bridge (if there is one), sometimes before, but usually only after around half the song has been played - typically following 2 verses/choruses.
    Last edited by JonR; 03-28-2008 at 03:22 PM.

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