Learning About 'Song Form'
Listen to "Burn" (by Usher) as you read the lyrics provided below.
The "Form" of this Usher track is typical Pop Song form. The form is "Intro / Verse / Chorus / Verse / Chorus / Bridge / Chorus / Outro". In almost all cases, these sections are typically 8 bars long or 16 bars long. As you listen to the song, count the bars starting at the beginning and indicate what bar you think the sections start on in the space provided above the lyric sections.
This is the introduction to the song. In many pop songs, the introduction is instrumental (no vocal) or contains talking. In this case, no surprise, Usher is talking about his never-ending girl troubles.
Intro: What bar does it start on? (I'll tell you. This songs start on the downbeat of bar 1. Most, but not all songs start on Bar 1, Beat 1.)
In most pop songs, the verse is the less memorable part. Lyrically, it gives you background information that will help you understand why the vocalist feels the need to sing a chorus about the topic. For example, if I were to write a chorus listing all of my favorite foods, Big Mac and Fries, Apple Pies, Ploughman's Sandwich and Pepperoni Pizza, it would seem odd out of context. However, if the first verse was about all of the places me and my girl used to eat, it would make sense. A good verse prepares you musically and intellectually for the chorus.
Verse: What bar does it start on? __________
The Chorus contains the part of the song that everybody remembers. A good chorus is instantly memorable the first time you hear it. This is the part of the song that sells, which is why it is often referred to as the "hook".
Chorus: What bar does it start on? __________
4. Verse 2
In most pop songs, the second verse has the exact same music as the first verse with only different. When you are producing a song, realize that you can save a lot of time by simply copying all of the tracks except the vocals from the first verse. Lyrically, the second verse usually puts a different "spin" on the context of the first verse or simply reinforces the lyrical message with more examples.
Verse 2: What bar does it start on? __________
5. Chorus 2
The second chorus typically has not only the same music, but the same lyrics. Many producers simply copy and paste the first chorus complete. Other producers use the first chorus as a base and then add more vocal or instruments for extra flavor. Some producers insist on recording an entirely new take of the second chorus because they feel the emotion should be different now that the listener has heard verse 2. See if Usher's Chorus 2 is indeed the same as Chorus 1.
Chorus 2: What bar does it start on? __________
The Bridge usually only happens once in a pop song. It might contain a different instrumentation with some instruments dropping out. We would then call this kind of bridge a "Break". This is where the term "Break Beat" comes from. It could be called a "Bridge Beat" but that doesn't sound as cool. The Bridge might also contain a new melody, new lyrics or new chords. In any event, the "Bridge" is designed to take the listener's mind off of the chorus for a moment without boring them with another verse. When musicians say "Take it to the bridge", they mean that they are ready for a "Change up".
Bridge: What bar does it start on? __________
7. Chorus 3
At this point, it's only a matter of how many times do they repeat the chorus. Some songs repeat and fade while others have a definite ending. Often, the vocalist will solo over the top of the chorus or add extra "attitude" in the background vocal tracks on the final chorus.
Chorus 3: What bar does it start on? __________
This section is optional and usually only found on "Repeat and fade" ballads. The outro typically contains instrumentals only. In Hip-hop and R&B, this is where people shout out their production company name.
Outro: What bar does it start on? __________
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