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Songwriting Guides
Writing a song
Verse

A song usually has two or three verses. These are sequential sections of the song that develop a common theme, such as unrequited love, or move the story of the song forward. For example, in folk music, the singer usually tells us a story in the verses of the song; each new verse being the next instalment in the narrative. In modern popular music, verses tend to be descriptions of a situation or feeling; each verse describes a new aspect on a central message such as 'I Love You', 'I Want To Dance' etc. These verses are often broken up by a chorus, which may explicitly state what the song is about ('Last Christmas', 'Don't Dream It's Over', 'Everything I Do (I Do It For You)'.

Define who's talking, where the story is taking place and give an idea of where you're going.
Steve Hillier

When writing your own songs, make sure that your verses draw the listener into your song, define who is talking, where the situation or story is taking place and give some idea of where you are going with your song. You don't need to be particularly explicit or detailed, for example:

Ooh, I bet you're wonderin' how I knew
'Bout your plans to make me blue
With some other guy you knew before
Between the two of us guys, you know, I loved you more
It took me by surprise, I must say, when I found out yesterday
Don't you know that I heard it through the grapevine

I Heard it Through the Grapevine (Whitfield/Strong)

Gary OsborneGary Osborne
If you're going to write a love song, you'll be venturing onto well-trodden ground.
Listen to the interview Audio help
From these simple lines, we know that there are three characters in this song. The singer is in love with the person who he's singing to, she has been unfaithful to him with a former lover and has kept it secret from him. We've also established that the theme of this song is song is about heartbreak and betrayal.

This is a great opening verse in a song. The lyric is general enough for the listeners to make a personal interpretation and imagine themselves in that situation. Yet the words are specific enough to make an emotional impact, and thus contribute to an enjoyable song.

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Don Emery, macclesfield
in my experience, a verse is a crescendo up to a refrain

Michael D. Robinson, San Diego
As a lyricist, I know exactly what you're saying. And you couldn't have used a better song, to get your point, across. And in the case of, "I Heard It Through The Grapevine," which is one of the most incredible songs, ever written, the simplest of lyrics, can make the biggest, statement. And how can you go wrong, with Gladys Knight, singing it? Or at least, that's who I know it by. Her, and the great, Marvin Gaye! Anyway thanks, for the insight. I'll remember this, when it's time, to pick up a pen, again!

Songwriting Guides Writing a Song Genre Structure Verse Chorus Melody Tempo / Rhythm Harmony Lyrics Beginnings Endings Ideas Rhyme Middle 8 Hooks Performing Working with Other Writers In the Studio Publishers Record Companies Management Staying on Track
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