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Free Songwriting Tips on Song Arranging is part 9 in a series on How to Write a Song.
The song arrangement is how we fit the parts of a song together to form a cohesive and easily digestible sound which is much easier to sell to record labels, music publishers, tv shows and the public at large.
There are 3 elements to song arranging. Parts of a song, song structure and how rock band instruments are used to develop an arrangement.
Below are the meanings of parts of a song and how they are used. These are not steadfast rules, only guidelines. Songwriters are constantly breaking "the rules". However, we should learn what they are first before we break them.
Intro - This the introduction or beginning of a song. It is instrumental and generally the same music as the verse. The intro is normally either 4 bars or 8 bars.
Interlude - Same music as Intro but happens during the song between choruses and verses. It allows the song to breath with no vocal.
Verse - The verse is the set up for the song. You must grab you listener here! Many songs have 3 verses, but more and more songs have only 2 verses since to get radio play your song can't be longer than about 3-3:30. Verses are typically 4 or 8 bars.
Pre-chorus - The pre-chorus is the hook before the hook. It sets up the chorus. It's generally lasts no longer than about 4 bars. It often uses subdominant harmonies.
Chorus - This is the hook, the payout for listening to the song so far. This is what we should walk away humming. We generally here the V - I cadence in here somewhere.
Bridge - The bridge takes us away from the song and gives new perspective. It happens about 2/3s of the way through the song. It generally begins on a subdominant chord ex., IV, ii or bVII. A bridge almost always happens only once. It lasts for at least 8 bars.
Coda - This is the outro. It is often just the chorus with a different melody sung over it. Or it can be a completely different progression and groove.
FREE SONGWRITING TIPS ON SONG STRUCTURE
Song structure is how the parts of the song are arranged. You should understand the patterns that are timeless if you're looking to sell your music to the commercial marketplace. Be original but understand what people are expecting to hear when listening to a great song.
Here are some free songwriting tips on typical popular song structures, forms and patterns.
1. Intro - Verse 1 - Chorus - Interlude - Verse 2 - Chorus - Bridge - Interlude - 2xChorus - Coda
2. Intro - Verse 1 - Pre-chorus - Chorus - Interlude - Verse 2 - Pre-chorus - Chorus - Bridge - Interlude - Pre-chorus - 2xChorus - Coda
3. AABA or (8 bar verse - 8 bar verse - 8 bar bridge - 8 bar verse). This is a typical 32 bar jazz arrangement.
FREE SONGWRITING TIPS ON ROCK BAND INSTRUMENTS
Your typical song arrangement will consist of some combination of the following rock band instruments:
Obviously, other instruments can be used, but this is all you need for song arranging.
Let's create an arrangement using song structure number 2 above. The idea is to create listener interest by doing the following:
Change dynamics by bringing instruments in slowly to build the arrangement and pulling them out to avoid listener fatigue.
The goal is to keep your listener's interest by creating variety and contrast.
Intro (8 bars) - Song starts with just acoustic guitar for 4 bars. The drum hi hat joins in for the next 4 bars.
Verse 1 (8 bars) - The vocalist enters with the melody. After 4 bars the bass enters for the 2nd 4 bars.
Pre-Chorus (4 bars) - In comes the kick and snare.
Chorus (8 bars) - Bang! Electric guitars for the full 8.
Interlude (4 bars) - No change in band just no vocal here.
Verse 2 (8 bars) - Electric guitars lay out for the first 4 bars, but gently enter for 2nd 4 bars.
Pre-chorus - Same as above
Chorus (8 bars) - Same as above yet with the keyboards entering playing a different rhythmic line than the guitars.
Bridge (8 bars) - Everything is in! Full sounding band! The band takes us somewhere new!
Interlude (or some kind of solo) (4 bars) - Band is still full!!!
Pre-chorus (4 bars) - The band disappears. This is the break down. All we hear is the vocal and the acoustic guitar for these 4 bars).
2xChorus (16 bars) - Whole band returns! Heavier than before! Something is added or different! There is more excitement!
Coda (final 4 or 8 bars) - Sometimes this is part of the final chorus or it's completely different. An alternate melody is often sung against or instead of the chorus here.
This is just an example, but hopefully with these free songwriting tips you get the idea. Take the parts of a song and put them in a strong song structure and blend them with just the right rock band instrument arrangement……and you just might have a hit on your hands!!!
What songwriting tips would you like to share? We'd love to hear them?