Within the songwriter’s universe much attention is given to the chorus section or “hook” of a tune, but perhaps of equal, if not obvious, importance is a song’s verse section.
When you really think about it, it’s pretty crucial to have strong verses. Most popular song structures feature a verse on their song’s timeline before their venerable chorus makes its grand entrance. As such, the verse is usually the primary musical statement that a listener experiences. First impressions being what they are, as songwriters, shouldn’t we be giving our verses the same creative attention as our choruses?
Musically speaking, a verse should reel the audience in with a unique hook of its own. A hook powerful enough to engage the listener and propel the track forward, yet subtle enough as to not outdo the chorus that’s soon to come.
Lyrically, a verse can serve many functions; it can set the stage, it can tell a detailed story, it may impart an abstract mood or play straight-man to the chorus’ punch line. The possibilities are endless.
Follow along with the break-out below and listen to some well-crafted verses in action via this Fleetwood Mac classic, “The Chain”:
(Can’t see the vid? Click here)
Did you notice how the quiet sparseness of the kick drum and Dobro on the first verse subtly draws you in while simultaneously setting the ominous tone of the track? Did you catch how the lush, vocal harmonies add a sugary counterbalance and hook to the dark verses but never truly overshadow the catchy choruses that follow?
Next time you find yourself writing a new tune, give your verses a second look. Are you treating them like place-holding, red-headed stepchildren or are you giving them the love and nurturing they deserve?
As always, build it (well) and they will come…
-Posted by Mark
A recurring feature on IVC, “Break it Down” tries its hand at demystifying song structure by deconstructing popular tunes in various styles.
Mark Bacino is a singer/songwriter based in New York City with three album releases to his credit as an artist. When not crafting his own melodic brand of retro-pop, Mark can be found producing fellow artists or composing for television/advertising via his Queens English Recording Co. Mark is also a contributing writer for Guitar World as well as the founder/curator of intro.verse.chorus.