Song structure and dynamics. How to bring more excitement in your songs!

Let’s talk about song structure and how to bring more dynamics to your song(s).

  • Have you ever wondered why you sometimes skip a song on your playlist just seconds before it end?
  • Ever wondered where you got that special power to determine if a song is good. After listening to it for 30 seconds?
  • What about those (ordinary) people who can tell if they like or dislike a song, but can’t explain why they do or don’t.
  • Or wait..Ever had goosebumps?

In this article, we’ll go into the basics of song structuring and go a little more in-depth about song dynamics. A topic that is rarely mentioned on the web, yet so important for creating professional music.

In my online business, I come across a lot of young artists who are sending their music over to me for feedback. We’re going to discuss several topics including the most common mistakes artists are making.

At the end of this article you will know how to properly organize your songs, bring more excitement to your songs and learn how to create a dynamic build-up throughout your recording.


Song structure


Let’s talk about song structure first.

There are lots of articles written by songwriters discussing this important part of songwriting, so I won’t go really in-depth about it.

Here’s a layout of a common song structure used in today’s Pop and R&B music:

  1. Intro (4 or 8 bars)
  2. Verse (16 bars)
  3. Chorus (8 bars)
  4. Verse (12 or 16 bars)
  5. Chorus (8 bars)
  6. Bridge (8 bars)
  7. Chorus (2x 8 bars)
  8. Outro

Depending on what type of track you’re creating, you could have a pre-chorus as well.

In that case, it can look something like this:

  1. Intro (4 or 8 bars)
  2. Verse (12 bars)
  3. Pre-chorus (4 bars)
  4. Chorus (8 bars)
  5. Verse (12 bars)
  6. Pre-Chorus (4 bars)
  7. Chorus (8 bars)
  8. Bridge (8 bars)
  9. Chorus (2x 8 bars)
  10. Outro

There are so many variations upon this.

Your song structure depends entirely on what type of genre you’re making music in. Hip hop tracks, for example (usually) have 16 bar verses.

When I said I didn’t want to go really in-depth about this, was because there’s a simple trick to create your own song structure.

Make sure the total length of the record is no longer than 4 minutes. For radio-edits make them even shorter. About 3 and a half minute tops. 


Dynamics


As you can see, song structure is pretty obvious. Now, this is where it gets harder.

The dynamics of your song is such an important factor, yet a lot of young artists fail to understand this part.

“So, why is it that you skip the last 15 seconds of your song in a playlist?”

Simple;

“THE ELEMENT OF SUPRISE!” 

You already know the ending. You’ve heard the same chorus 3 times or maybe even more already! (Again, depending on the song structure)

But, you made it to the last 15 seconds of the song and that means it’s a pretty good song.

Voicings & Harmonies

The most effective way to bring more dynamic in your song, but often used in the wrong way. It’s not easy to master the skill of laying down different voicings.

Unfortunately, once one masters the skill, he or she often over-uses it!

To my opinion, harmonies are part of the song structure as well. When you’re recording, you lay down the foundation of the song.

  • Leads & dubs

Throughout the song, usually starting in the pre-chorus or chorus, you’re going to harmonize a few parts.

I wouldn’t advise doing this any earlier.

Also, neither in the first verse of the song. Again, build the song up dynamically and keep up the element of surprise!

So, how about that special power you have to know if a song is good after 30 seconds in? 

In this example, I’ll go back to the song structure.

If you recorded a track and you feel like it has a very strong chorus. Put it before the first verse even starts! Keep the listeners attention for as soon and long as possible.

It works the same way if you have very strong lyrics in the first verse. Of course, you’ll want to put that in the listeners head immediately.

Building up towards the big BANG

Have you ever analyzed a classical music piece? Even if it’s not your genre, you should do that for once.

Actually, you watch movies right? Notice how the creator of those musical pieces just grabs you, excites you, and how he determines what you’re feeling at that time or going to feel in 5 seconds when that creepy little girl with the wet her pops up on the screen.

That’s what you want to do with your music as well. And that, my friend, is what leads to giving people goosebumps when listening to your music.

So how do you achieve this? 

Again, the element of surprise!

Start off small. Then bring more excitement to your track by adding dubs and harmonies.

Keep your listener’s attention as long as possible. Grab them, excite them and lead them to the big BANG! (your chorus, obviously)

The power of repeat

This may seem a bit odd after I just told you to keep the element of surprise in your song, so let me explain.

In my instrumental music, I create pre-chorus sounding sections for artists a lot. However, they fail to use this properly on many occasions. (Or perhaps choose not to add this to their song structure.)

Let me show you in a random example what a pre-chorus does

Chris Brown – Grass Ain’t Greener

listen how the pre-chorus kicks in at 02:15 and again after the 2nd verse at 03:08. Making it a repeat factor.

These 4 bars play a significant part in the song because it gives a lot of impact to the chorus.

The listener is ‘used’ to hearing the chorus drop right after it, which makes it ‘easy’ to listen to the song.

This is very important in creating a potential hit record!

Sometimes the songwriter uses the same melody, yet other lyrics, in the 2nd pre-chorus. This is a common writing technique used in duets as well.

The bridge and it’s true purpose

After 2 verses and 2 (or 3) choruses, you’re nearly out of options to keep the excitement in the song. Then the bridge comes in.

“Halleluja!” 🙌🏽

The bridge of a song allows you to switch it up and build up towards an even greater climax the listener has already experienced in the choruses.

It can be used in several different ways and I really can’t tell what you should do. It depends on you entirely.

Just make sure that, whatever you do, the last chorus has to blow the listener away! Work towards that.

Here are some examples:

  • If you’re a singer, feature a rapper in the bridge (calling it a 3rd verse then)
  • Break it down, singing your original chorus without all the extra dubs. Keep it small.
  • Re-do the pre-chorus

Ad-libs and how we all love to add those to our tracks, don’t we?

Ughhhh!! I can’t even start by saying how much I can be annoyed by ad-libs. (If used in the wrong way, of course!)

I get that we all love to sing and show off our skill but hopefully, you understand now that it’s all about dynamics.

Keep this in mind and never ever forget:
Don’t do ad-libs in the first verse or chorus of the song! Repeat after me ..

“Don’t do……”

After the first chorus, you may start recording ad-libs. But keep it small!

Your time to shine – The Last Chorus 🌟

And there it is .. The final chorus. How we have all waited for this.

This is your moment to shine. Enhance the excitement and drop your vocal skills on that last chorus as if your life depended on it.

No, seriously. The ending of a song is critical to making a song sound ‘finished.’ Believe it or not, the listener can make his judgment about a song in the last seconds.

Keeping the excitement going on throughout the whole song is hard. At some point, you really are out of options to go even further.

This is where ad-libs come in!

Big ones, smaller ones, it all depends on your track. Either way, ‘something’ has to happen there.

A list of the most common mistakes made by (young) artists

My music is being used by 1.000s of artists, so I bet you can imagine how many songs I get to hear every day.

These are the most common mistakes I see artists making.

  • Giving away too much too fast
  • Not applying the Power of Repeat in their pre-choruses
  • Not building up excitement throughout the song
  • Using ad-libs in the first verse and/or chorus
  • Over-harmonizing
  • No ad-libs near the end of the song
  • Having a strong hook, without impact due to weak(er) verses. (Switch it up!)

 You gots this!

Hopefully, I’ve given you the tips and tools to become an even better artist or songwriter than you already are.

If you have any questions about this, feel free to ask.

Want me to check out your music and give feedback?

Send it over!!