The Chorus

Songwriting Basics - The Chorus

Every book you have ever read, every movie you have ever seen, every story you have ever heard, has a point where the anticipation builds and builds until it reaches a climax. The big "payoff" where everything comes together.

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The "Payoff"

In a song that climax, or "payoff", is known as the chorus. The chorus is the culmination of everything the song is about. The chorus is the big "aha" moment of the song.

Choruses can be long or short, they can be repetitive or just narrative, they can have a melody that jumps out at you, or can sound like an extension of the verses, they can be anything you want them to be but rest assured, just about every song has a chorus of some sort.

The "Hook"

Contained within most choruses is the "hook" of the song. (see "Writing the Hook) Quite often the hook is simply the title of the song.

Even if the hook is not the title, it is typically the part of the chorus that is most repetitive.

Some say the "hook" or title should repeat three times in the chorus to make sure it sticks with the listener. In some choruses, the hook or title comes up in the first line of the chorus, then not again until the last line.

No "Rules"

header guitar pic 1 02Keep in mind, there are no "rules", just general formulas and patterns that have proven successful in popular music.

If you were only able to work on writing one section of a song, it would most likely be the chorus.

This is the part of the song that the listener remembers most - largely because many choruses are repetitive to some degree.

Chorus Melody & Lyrics

The melody of the chorus is usually different than for the verses. In many cases the chorus melody will soar in comparison. Often times the chorus will begin on a different chord than the verse and will use a different variation of the chord progression than the verses.

Lyrically the chorus will normally surmmarize what the song is about. From a lyrical stand point the chorus says "this is what it is", and the verse says "this is how it got there".

A well written chorus will stay with a listener after hearing it only once or twice. Often, they will be able to sing along with a great chorus before the song is even over.

Starting with the Chorus

fretting 04Many songwriters use the chorus as the starting point. They focus all their energy on writing a solid  chorus before attempting the verses. Once the chorus is written they can then build the rest of the song around that.

If you are just starting out as a songwriter, try working on writing a good chorus - melody and lyrics - first. Then you have the foundation to start building the rest of the song around that.

Just remember that the chorus is the most important part of your song, so try to give it the attention it deserves.

Please do not hesitate to contact us with any questions!

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Keith Dean

keith01 lowKeith Dean is founder of and a 30 year veteran of stage and studio. He toured extensively as a road musician throughout the US and Europe, was a former lead guitarist for Jason Aldean, and has shared stages with Little Big Town, Wild Rose, Winger, Confederate Railroad and more. He is a published songwriter, owned and operated a successful music store, and has instructed numerous students in guitar.

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