Creating a Song Structure
Published on: May 04, 2020
Many producers struggle to create a compelling arrangement that interests the listener from start to finish.
In addition, they also struggle to add variation and run into creative roadblocks.
These two common problems can be avoided with a basic understanding of the form of a song.
Every song that you have ever heard is made up of some structure or framework called a song form.
We characterize a song's form by assigning letters to the different sections of a song. The letters create a map of the entire song.
Thinking of writing your song in blocks (sections of a song) will help you understand how to organize your song to create an engaging arrangement.
For this particular tutorial, we are going to refer to each section or letter as having the length of 1 bar or 4 beats.
So our first section will be the “A” section and this will be the length of 1 bar.
Each new section will progress alphabetically, so the next section will be “B” and so on.
Song form can be zoomed out and used to structure sections like a chorus or verse, which may last 8 or 16 bars, but again for this tutorial, we are going to have each block or letter be 1 bar.
There is no hard and fast rule on how you should structure your track, but I like to the use the ABAC ABAD song form for an entire phrase (8 bars)
So what does this tell you on how you should write your track?
This means that each block or letter should have some sort of change in it. Preferably there should be a sound change in each of the letters.
For example, let’s say we are creating a Dubstep track like we talk about in the video above.
To create an interesting arrangement we are going to use the ABAC ABAD song form.
For our A section, we are going to have a growl bass play for one bar.
For our B section, we are going to have a laser sound play for one bar.
For our C section, we will have a vocal and pad play for one bar.
For our D section, we will have a drum fill and a reverse fx play for one bar.
So our ABAC ABAD section will look like this.
A: Growl Bass, B: Laser, A: Growl Bass, C: Vocal & Pad, A: Growl Bass, B: Laser, A: Growl Bass, D: Drum & Reverse FX
Again, each letter will represent 1 bar, so the entire section will add up to 8 bars here.
Just to clarify, repeating letters means that we will play the exact same section over with no changes.
You can, of course, change the same lettered sections around, but repetition and familiarity help you tell a consistent and understandable story to your audience.
💪ACTION TO TAKE
When you begin writing a certain section in your track, use the ABAC ABAD song form.
Pick out specific elements to play in each of these sections and begin writing your track.
One important note, you don’t have to choose different elements to play in the different sections.
Any change will work here. It all depends on the specific track you are working on.
So if you were creating a piano instrumental track with the piano being the only instrument in your song, the different sections, could just feature the piano playing different notes.
Apply this 8 bar song form to your entire track.