#1
Hi, my name is Eugene, I'm from UG Team.

We are writing an article about song structure and song parts as well, cause there are a lot of problems in naming song parts among tab authors (especially inexperienced ones).

It's very simple to define obvious song parts as intro, verse, chorus, but there are problems with more complicated parts (refrain, pre-chorus, bridge, difference between interlude and solo, elision, climb, difference between fading and outro and so on).

So if you have any advises (good definitions / examples) or questions, that need to be described on these topics, feel free to write them here.
#2
What kind of complexity are you looking for? You said you're doing this to help the tab authors, but on the other hand you're writing an article I assume you'll publish in UG news or lessons. So are you looking for tab-specific advice, or more of some general information about song structure? Because I think there's a difference between naming parts in tab for clarity, and actually performing some serious structural analysis on a song.

Either way I'm sure we can provide help, I can type out some definitions myself when I have more time and after I've checked that I know how to translate all of that info to English
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#3
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So are you looking for tab-specific advice, or more of some general information about song structure? Because I think there's a difference between naming parts in tab for clarity, and actually performing some serious structural analysis on a song.


I'm looking mostly for general information about song structure (and structural analysis), with some depth on non-trivial song parts.
#4
Here's mu $0.02:

Refrain: same as chorus, but can refer to a repeated line at the end of (or in the middle of) a verse. E.g., the lines in Scarborough Fair that run "parsley sage rosemary and thyme" and "true love of mine". It's not a "chorus", but serves a similar role.

Pre-chorus. Might seem obvious, but it's the section that comes between verse and chorus . It should sound different enough in melody and chords from the verse, and will probably suggest a slight build in tension or intensity. It might even sound like the chorus at first. But the chorus should then have even more intensity and impact. Pre-choruses were not common in older pop music, but are fairly common today

Bridge: Central section, different in melody, chords and lyrics - and perhaps in key - from any previous section. The main defining factor (that differentiates it from verse of chorus) is that it will probably only occur once in the song, perhaps twice (if the song is long enough). (In jazz tunes, when improvised, bridges occur more often, but that's because the whole form of a tune is cycled repeatedly.)

NB: in older pop/jazz standards, "chorus" refers to the entire structure, usually 32-bars (AABA form), which is cycled for improvisation. The B section is the "bridge" in that case (aka "middle 8" because each section is traditionally 8 bars in length). The show tunes that these songs began as often had a perfunctory "verse" at the beginning, that jazz groups typically dropped, because really it only acted as an intro ("pre-chorus"??) to the hook melody in the 32-bar chorus.
In contrast, in other forms of popular music, "chorus" refers to a repeated section of lyrics which occurs between the "verses", which have different lyrics each time. That kind of chorus might only be 8 bars long (maybe more often 16). You might still have a couple of verses and choruses followed a bridge, followed again by verse and chorus.
NB (2): some people mistakenly refer to a bridge as the chorus or refrain. Wrong!

Difference between interlude and solo. A "solo" means a feature for one musician. In jazz this would be improvised anew each time ("solo" in jazz means the same thing as "improvisation"); in rock, a solo is often worked out beforehand and played the same way each time. An "Interlude" is a simply an instrumental breathing space between any other two sections, usually fairly short. It may or may not contain a "solo".

Elision. This was a new one on me, so I looked it up: http://musictheoryprof.com/2015/11/examples-of-melodic-elision/
It's where part of a tune seems to be missing, in order for a following section to overlap.

Climb. Self-explanatory? An ascending melody or chord sequence? An upward modulation?

Difference between fading and outro. The classical term for outro is "coda", literally "tail", an ending section tagged on. Obviously "outro" is derived from "intro". It doesn't necessarily fade. It could have any form, but will probably use material from earlier in the song, although it will be adapted in some way. Commonly, it's a repeat of the intro (if there is one).
Any section of a song can be used over a fade, it doesn't have to be a special separate section. (It's quite common for songs to fade on a repeated chorus.)
Last edited by jongtr at Jan 19, 2017,
#5
So many things to write about...

Western popular music is commonly divided into thematically similar sections, most commonly the verse and chorus, but can also include sections such as the intro, bridge, pre-chorus, post-chorus, interludes, and outro

Gonna go through one song rn and see how that works

Song 1:

Song form:
Intro - 0:09-0:15
Instrumental (guitar/drums). Introduces the general sound of the song. Does not have to repeat; however, the guitar's idea (a motif) is repeated throughout the entire song

Verse - 0:14-0:42
The first vocal idea (with a little bit of overlap into the intro - it starts on a pickup measure). Further establishes the mood of the song

Pre-Chorus - 0:42-0:55
It's a transition section that sounds different from both the verse and the chorus.

Chorus - 0:55-1:22
The part of the song that should stick to your head. Very repetitive, usually quite singable (particularly in popular music)

Interlude - 1:22-1:36
(This one in particular could be called a post-chorus for the presence of vocals - an interlude is often purely instrumental. However, I called it an interlude because the vocals are mostly effect-driven voice-overs)
Another transition section, carrying information from the chorus (the chord progression and the backing synths playing parts of the hook - the part that sticks to your head), but also the percussion depth of the chorus (and the repeating guitar motif)
Note: this is NOT part of the chorus, nor is it part of the following X section. It is its own section.

Verse - 1:34-2:02
Starts off a bit harmonically and rhythmically light, but the exact same melodic material as the first verse, and then it goes back to the original harmonic and rhythmic material as before.

Pre-Chorus - 2:02-2:15
Same melodic material as the first pre-chorus, but fades a little (synths and drums) in order to make the following chorus even stronger (similar to having darkness to emphasize the light)

Chorus - 2:16-2:42
Interlude - 2:42-2:55
Same thing as the first time for the above two sections

Bridge - 2:55-3:22
A section that's very different from the rest in melodic and rhythmic layering. When talking about a bridge, there is something different about it compared to the rest of the song. (Usually comes as a nice break from the rest of the song which may or may not get boring/repetitive by this point)

Chorus - 3:22-3:49
Often, the final chorus has something different about it than the previous choruses (in this case, there are slightly different lyrics and a bit more vocal layering). However, the same musical idea remains.

Outro - 3:49-end
Does not necessarily have to share the same information as the interlude, but wraps up the song in some way (this was basically an interlude wrapped up by a distinct final lyric line). Like Jon said, also known as a coda in classical circles.
#6
Another song part heading that could be used is Theme, for a repeated part which is one of the main hooks of the song but not the chorus.
e.g. here
https://tabs.ultimate-guitar.com/e/epica/omen_the_ghoulish_malady_guitar_pro.htm
the section after the intro which is repeated later in the song a couple of times is the theme; when the choir comes in it may sound like a chorus, but the chorus is later where you would expect it to be, after the pre-chorus.

and here
https://tabs.ultimate-guitar.com/e/epica/chemical_insomnia_ver3_guitar_pro.htm
The instrumental part right at the start of the song (and after the 1st chorus) is the theme, something that's not quite a riff or a melody.

Overall, something with a relatively normal song structure, including parts such as intro, verse, pre-chorus, chorus, bridge, interlude, solo (or solo I, solo II, guitar solo, keyboard solo, etc), outro/ending or coda if you prefer should not be too hard to label and I can trust you guys to come up with appropriate definitions as indeed there are in the last two posts
Can also use theme, riff, riff A & riff B, etc, melody A & melody B, etc.
When you get a really non-standard song structure is where there may be difficulties deciding what to call all the parts of a song, in which case you can go with |A|, |B|, |C|, etc labels or simply timestamps. I don't think it matters too much how you do it as long as it's logical, sometimes you may be able to have verse, chorus sections and then miscellaneous sections, other times not even a verse, chorus type structure may be apparent ...
#7
NSpen1

The first one (I'll listen to the second later) is more... mm Intro (piano) A B A B C (B A - these are modulated), could rewrite as:
Intro ||: A B :|| C B A, which is an arch form

The B sections are made up of the general popular music forms Verse, Pre-Chorus, and Chorus

The C section is the "Interlude/Bridge/Growl" sections and mostly mirrors the development in things such as sonata/rondo forms

I tried to stay away from classical forms because they're a whole other animal hope you understand why now
#8
NeoMvsEu
ok, I see where you're coming from.
A = Theme
B = [Verse, Pre-chorus, Chorus]
C = [Interlude/Bridge/Growl]
So that's how you can put it into a classical form, but I'd rather stick with the "pop" form as that's more explicit / divides it into each different section.

Also for the final B, there is only the chorus there, so you have no differentiation between [Verse, Pre-chorus, Chorus] and [Chorus].
And yes, chorus, theme modulated at the end, that's why I put (up 1 step)

What is an "arch form"? Arch meaning archaic or a primary/one of the most important forms?
#9
Oops, forgot about that last B section being a shortened version of the said section, good catch
The abbreviation of replayed sections happens rather often, btw

Arch form: Neither, the shape is what is important:

  _C_
B/   \B
 |    |
A|    |A
-------->
  time

As a roughly symmetric form, it starts and ends on the same thematic material and after the middle section plays each section in retrograde

Mark Jansen borrows from classical music rather heavily; I don't think restriction to just pop forms does the analysis justice. Macro-sections can have sub-sections (as B sections have parts associated with pop song form), but the overarching form isn't that of a song; it's a classical form overall.
#10
alright, got it about the arch.
But in this case it's more like :

     _C_
    /   \B
  B/     |A
   |     |
  A|     
  /
B/
 |
A|
----------->
  time

in which your arch is lopsided and doesn't make it back to the ground on the other side

I think you're rather trying to shoehorn it into the classical form, also ignoring the intro in order to do so. btw the intro can also be related melodically to the bridge/growl section, your C section.
For this song I'm happier thinking of it as a pop/rock form - to my mind it's not really much different to a song constructed with intro, verse, pre-chorus, chorus, bridge sections - just with a couple of extra sections added. We can agree to disagree ...

Of course there are other Epica songs which are much more complicated song structure wise.
#11
The intro has nothing to do with the form; it's just an intro - that the bridge borrows thematically from it just gives more coherence in the form. Intros have traditionally never been analyzed as part of the main form structure

Parts can be repeated without destroying the form.
#12
Song parts can be subjective. The composer(s) may not have even thought about what the various parts of their song should be called, or if they need any sort of label at all. Yet as authors, it is musically instructive to identify boundaries.

Some songs blur the delineation between verse and chorus.

What defines an interlude versus a solo? eg. Does Brown Eyed Girl (Van Morrison) have a short bass solo, or is it an interlude?
#13
jongtr

Thank goodness! I was expecting various people to throw in a bunch of wrong information, especially about the verse vs chorus. I can't tell you how many times I have had a band mess up a song in rehearsal over and over only to find that half of them were reversed in what they thought of as the verse and the chorus.
I think you got all of it right.
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#14
It's very simple to define obvious song parts as intro, verse, chorus, but there are problems with more complicated parts (refrain, pre-chorus, bridge, difference between interlude and solo, elision, climb, difference between fading and outro and so on).

In an article, it would be a good idea to start with describing the basics that are used by many songs:
- Intro
- Verse
- Chorus
- Bridge
- Solo
- Outtro
Give a few examples of chords/tabs for songs that only use these, in various genres.
Then, introduce more specialist and subtle parts:
- Pre-chorus
- Breakdown
- Interlude
- Refrain
- Coda
with examples.