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Good songs follow certain structures and contain certain parts. One very important part of a song is the chorus. In this lesson, we’ll talk about this aspect of song structure and see how it’s used.

Song Structures

Imagine that you’re listening to an online music channel or the radio, and you hear a new song. As you start to listen to the new song, you already have some expectations about its structure. Why? Well, the vast majority of popular songs adhere to a consistent structure that goes something like this: verse-chorus-verse-chorus-bridge-chorus. Each part of the song contains different bits of information, and by structuring songs along this pattern, listeners know what to expect. Which part of the song is the most important? What does the artist really want to you take away from it?If you go back to the verse-chorus-verse-chorus-bridge-chorus structure, you’ll notice that one word really stands out: the chorus. In a song composed of both music and lyrics, the chorus is not only the most repeated section but also the one where you can find the real meaning of a song.

Through repetition and the use of catchy melodies, this section makes sure that you remember a song.

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Chorus Lyrics

The chorus of a song is meant to be the most memorable part, containing the ultimate message of the piece. In order to do this, choruses generally rely on a series of techniques. The first has to do with the lyrics, the spoken or sung words. While the lyrics in verses convey the background information needed to understand the emotional or narrative structure of the song, the lyrics in the chorus provide listeners with the real message. For this reason, chorus lyrics tend to be simpler and more direct than the lyrics of verses.

To really drive home the point, the chorus lyrics tend to be based on a theme of repetition to ensure maximum retention. Frequently, the words of a chorus are identical after every single verse. This makes the chorus easy to memorize, and subsequently, easy to sing along with. Occasionally, however, parts of the lyrics will change between each chorus while maintaining the same overall structure. When done well, this can also make the chorus more memorable by drawing the listener’s attention to the differences. Turn on the radio and listen to the first song that comes on – you’ll probably be able to identify the chorus by the repetitive lyrics.

Chorus Music

Of course, if a chorus consisted of only repetitive lyrics, it wouldn’t really be a song, it would be a poem. Songs are defined by music. Since the chorus is so important, we can expect the music to reinforce it. While the lyrics of a chorus are defined by repetition, the music of a chorus is defined by its uniqueness.

Even without the lyrics, you could probably identify the chorus of a song simply by listening for changes in the patterns of chords used to construct it.A verse tends to follow one, repetitive set of chords, but a chorus uses a different pattern of chords, which accomplishes two things. First, it helps the chorus stand out from the verses, making it audibly more noticeable.

It ensures that the music resolution occurs at the same time as the lyrical resolution. All music has direction, created by changes between chords that create and resolve musical tension. If you want the lyrics of your chorus to communicate the main message of a song, then it helps to resolve this tension in the most important lyrics.The music of the chorus comes largely from the instruments, but the lyrics almost always compose the melody, or the main musical theme of a song.

So, while the chords in the background, or the harmony, tend to resolve during the chorus, the melody reinforces them. Think of a song that you like, but only sort of know the words to. If asked to sing the first section of the song that came to mind, you’d probably sing the chorus: it’s memorable, it’s catchy, and it’s fun to sing.

It’s also an effective way to drive home a message.

Lesson Summary

Most of our popular songs are based on a similar song structure, used to organize the information in the most useful and usable way. The focus of this structure is the chorus, a lyrically repetitive section containing the main message of a song. The lyrics of a chorus tend to be more direct and simpler than the verse and feature a significant amount of repetition.

Musically, the chorus also carries the main melody and features a different chord progression than the verses, where musical tension is resolved. By using all of these techniques, musicians make sure that the chorus stands out and that the audience retains the message. The result is one of the catchiest forms of communication in our world.


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