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Song Elements Overview

Song Elements Overview

Updated 6/4/19

Each component of a song, or your song elements, serves a very specific function in creating the overall tapestry of a song. And, much like a tapestry, if you weave things together in a way that’s innovative, but doesn’t necessarily use the elements for the proper purpose, you could end up with a hole.

This is a great starter article if you’ve never written a song, or you are having issues with making sure you’re using the right parts of a song in the right way.

So – let’s take a few minutes to run through the song elements available to you as a song writer, and the role they serve within a song.

There are additional articles to provide more detail for each of one of the elements.


Core Song Elements




This is the undercurrent of your song, set against the accompaniment (chords for a guitar player). The melody line should be interesting, but not bizarre, and memorable. For a tutorial on melodies, listen to anything written by Burt Bacharach or Jimmy Webb.

Master Class: Melody & Lyrics Work Together

6 Essential Songwriting Books On Melody




Is responsible for keeping the listener engaged in the song. A verse should help the listener move them through the story line or idea, get them to the chorus in a logical way, and contrast with the bridge (if you have one).

A verse shouldn’t be a simple chronology, but a presentation of information in a unique way using the meter of the language to naturally flow into the next element (a chorus, another verse, pre-chorus or bridge).

Tip To Match Line Length in Verses

What’s A Song Verse For?


Pre-Chorus or Lift or Channel


While not mandatory, this can be a great device for ramping up into your chorus. Your song’s tempo and the nature of the song (e.g., a ballad may not be appropriate because it makes the song too long) will help determine if you should use a pre-chorus. You should use a pre-chorus to build additional tension for a big release in the chorus.

What’s A Pre-Chorus?




This is what your song’s about. As the “big moment” in your song, the chorus should create a focus on the meaning of the song. If it’s a strong chorus, it should have a slightly different meaning each time it shows up, using the verse just prior to colour the interpretation. A great example of this is Beth Nielsen Chapman’s “Child of Mine.”

What’s A Song Chorus For?




While often used to fill space, don’t be tempted! A strong bridge is a great “ah-ha!” moment in a song. It can be a compelling contrast to your chorus, and help deliver the hook of the song in a completely different, and larger than life way in the chorus which follows it. Keep in mind – you don’t always need one.

What’s a Song Bridge For?




Should be memorable and tie back to your song. I usually wait until the end to decide on a title so it doesn’t dictate my song lyrics, but that’s a personal choice. But, I also tend to write Americana.

If you’re writing country or pop songs to pitch, you’ll want to write to the title. This means, establish your hook (which is likely your title) then make sure each line can be tied back to the title.

Don’t get hung up on “a title should be short” (e.g., Paul Simon’s “Me and Julio Down By the Schoolyard”).

Remember – to know the rules is to have the skills to break them effectively, and that’s ultimately what spending time on song craft is all about.

A Song Title Should Give You Options


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