#1
MASSIVE post I know, but I think it's an interesting point for anyone who wirtes there own songs:

Hey up kids. Would like people's opinions on this - do you think writing a song with a Verse-Chorus-Verse-Chorus-Bridge-Chorus structure is ok if that's how the song goes, or do you think it's just lazy to write in that format?

The reason this has come to mind is because I've just written a song that has a VCVCBC structure - but it wasn't meant to. I'll explain:

Normally I write a song with a structure in mind - IE, once all the music's written I'll know which bits are verses, which are solos, etc. I'll write riffs with "ok, this one's the chorus" in mind. This means that the song structure is under my control - if I want to write in VCVCBC I will, but frequently of late I've been trying to play around with this more, using extended intros, multiple solos, solos after the first chorus, multiple verses before a chorus has come in, etc. Just keeps me more interested, and helps stop my songwriting becoming automatic.

But just recently, I've been writing a song (in a thrash/metalcore kinda style, if that's relevant), and I've been just writing it almost as an instrumental - I always in tended it to have words, but no particular riff was earmarked as the "chorus riff" or anything. According to the titles I gave the different sections on Powertab, the structure was this:

Quiet intro
Intro
Staccato riff
Squealy riff
Main riff
Main riff 2
Fat riff
Staccato riff 2
Squealy riff
Main riff
Main riff 2
Fat riff
Picky riff
High riff
Fat riff (to close)

Now you could argue that there's a rough ABABC structure there, but there's obviously a fair bit of variation. Then, having written lyrics independently of the song (just in chunks, again without any sections earmarked as "verse" or anything, I knew which my chorus refrain was, but wasn't sure of how the other pieces would fit around it), I started combining the two, and found that without it being in any way deliberate, I'd pieced it together so that "fat riff" had the chorus refrain, "main riff" and "main riff 2" had a sort of pre-chorus thing, and "squealy riff" had verses.

Giving me a structure of

Intro (in 3 parts)
Verse
Pre Chorus (in 2 parts)
Chorus
Repetition of 3rd part of intro
Verse
Pre Chorus (in 2 parts)
Chorus
Interlude (in 2 sections)
Chorus

- which can be simplified to ABABCB, or VCVCBC. So obviously in this case, the song "wanted" to have that structure, it was just how it fell into place. Of course, this could be because popular music is so full of ABABCB songs that writing a song any other way requires deliberate effort, and that anything just allowed to "fall into place" will always have an approximate ABABCB feel.

So, what are people's thoughts? Do you think songwriters should make a deliberate effort to use more interesting structures, or do you think it's best to just "see where it goes", even if this does end up with clichéd song structure? Maybe you even feel that VCVCBC is the best way to structure a song because of its continuity and familiarity?

Discuss and advise
Quote by adamrandall
ahh yes SRV. i got the intro on texas flood (easy) and then he's like twangledoodleblopdebloo dun dun dun dun DA dun DA and im like *dead*.


The Unholy plays a Jackson Warrior X through a Metal Muff

Squigglymetal!
#2
verse chorus is fine to write in. choosing a format for asong allows for more discretion with that song in that form. for example some of the coolest jazz work has aaba heads. so dont worry about working in a form worry about the content
i enjoy head
#3
Hm, yeah. That's kind of what I was thinking when I was writing the piece in question - if I focus on these riffs, then the riffs will be better for it, because I won't be compromising them by trying to make them fit my own pre-conceived idea of what a "chorus" riff should sound like. Incidentally, I think it's worked in that I'm very proud of the song, at least musically. Although having written it completely instrumentally, it seems a lot shorter now that I've put lyrics in.

One thing I have noticed is that it's lead to more complex transitions BETWEEN sections than I'd normally attempt. Some of the riffs change a bar early, or are glued together by a shared fill, or things like that that I maybe wouldn't have attempted if I was thinking of them in a more Lego-brick fashion.
Quote by adamrandall
ahh yes SRV. i got the intro on texas flood (easy) and then he's like twangledoodleblopdebloo dun dun dun dun DA dun DA and im like *dead*.


The Unholy plays a Jackson Warrior X through a Metal Muff

Squigglymetal!
#4
Quote by TheUnholy

Would like people's opinions on this - do you think writing a song with a Verse-Chorus-Verse-Chorus-Bridge-Chorus structure is ok if that's how the song goes, or do you think it's just lazy to write in that format?


if using a traditional structure serves the song best, use a traditional structure.. making something unnecessarily complicated for no good reason isn't usually the right thing to do
out of here
#5
i think the complexity thing just comes naturally from the fact that your ear hears things in a certian way. for example the 32 bar blues progression that is used in some of the 70's music was born from the typical 12 or 16 bar blues, the users just felt that the sound for the content would work better in a longer form, so by extending of making a more complex version of a form is not a bad thing, but rather a way to work yourself into the form. The best example of this is the many types of classical music forms such as the symphony or the aria that all have different but similar forms.
i enjoy head
#6
Quote by inflatablefilth
if using a traditional structure serves the song best, use a traditional structure.. making something unnecessarily complicated for no good reason isn't usually the right thing to do


this is true to a degree. however if you have a full album and every song follows this format it does get pretty boring.
#7
Quote by z4twenny
this is true to a degree. however if you have a full album and every song follows this format it does get pretty boring.


depends who you ask... I think most listeners are primarily interested in an interesting melodic hook and a lyric that engages them in some way.... if I could find an album with 10 songs on it that all do that for me, I don't care about song structure

now, I do think you can use variations song structure to make an artistic point, and to support the other stuff in the song... Frank Zappa and Metallica are particularly excellent at using structure itself as a way of imparting 'supporting meaning', if you will, to a song...

but apart from that I disagree with you... if a song's boring, it's not because of the structure, it's 99% because the other stuff in the song was boring...

canvases are pretty boring... empty sports fields are pretty boring... empty plates are boring... these things are ultimately backdrops for other things to be presented
out of here
#8
Thanks for the responses .

I'm inclned to mostly agree with the consensus view presented by Inflatable Filth - that if a good song is in VCVCBC, it's still a good song. A lot of my favourite songs have this structure, and I don't think it damages them.

What I'm more concerned about is that constantly conforming to basic structures like this stagnates you as a songwriter, and limits the boundaries of what you can do - Metallica would never have written "One" if they wrote everything to a preconceived VCVCBC model.

The point made by Jazzcore about classical and blues structures applied here as well - a 12 bar blues is a great musical form, but personally it annoys me to hear 12-bar bles after 12-bar blues, with no shake-up or variation.

I'm not trying to write prog, or through-composed music, I just worry that I stifle the limits of what I can do if I write to a pre-conceived structure, and it concerns me a bit that on this occasion, when I HAVEN'T written to a pre-conceived structure, I've nonetheless conformed to one. It kinda suggests that unless I deliberately set out to write in unfamiliar forms, I never will, because I naturally conform to generic song structures.

And while, like most of you have said, the content is the important thing (and in this case I believe my content is good), the structure can also dictate the content - you get a different kind of picture if you paint on a triangular canvas.
Quote by adamrandall
ahh yes SRV. i got the intro on texas flood (easy) and then he's like twangledoodleblopdebloo dun dun dun dun DA dun DA and im like *dead*.


The Unholy plays a Jackson Warrior X through a Metal Muff

Squigglymetal!