The Lift

Songwriting Basics - The Lift

Many songs have a component known as a "lift" or "pre-chorus".

The lift, or pre-chorus, typically follows a verse (see "Songwriting - The Verse") and serves as a lead-in to the chorus (see "Songwriting - The Chorus").
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Although a lift is basically an extension of the verse, it will normally differ from the verse musically, melodically and lyrically.

The Lift - Musically

Unlike a bridge (see "Songwriting - The Bridge"), which often goes in a brand new direction musically, the lift tends to stay in a similar musical "tone" as the verse.

The chord progression of a lift usually flows seamlessly from the verse to the chorus but is still different enough to signal to the listener that the song is moving to the chorus.

For example: If the verse of a song played back and forth from G to D during the verse, and the chorus started on a C, the lift might come in on an Am to a D before starting the chorus on C. That movement to the Am triggers a signal that the chord progression is coming to a change and allows the progression to move smoothly to the first chord (C) of the chorus.

The Lift - Melodically

In our discussion on song melody (see "Songwriting - Melody"), we talked about the fact that many times the melody of the verses will be subdued in comparison to the melody of a chorus that "soars".
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Quite often, the melody in the lift will raise slightly higher than the verse, but still remain lower than the chorus.
It is in this way that a lift has the effect of "lifting" the song from the verse up to the climax of the chorus. Hence the name "lift".

The Lift - Lyrically

The tricky part of a lift lyrically is to have it say something that reiterates what was said in the verse, but still lead into the message of the chorus.

The lyrics of the lift will often summarize the sentiments of the verse in such a way that it naturally brings the listener into the chorus. In many songs, the lyrics of the lift are repeated throughout the song.

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Add a Lift to Your Songs

When writing your own songs, try to add a lift where it feels right. You can often turn the end of a verse into a lift by just making a subtle change in the chord progression and/or melody.

The lift or pre-chorus is an effective way of setting up your choruses so next time you sit down to write, work on inserting a lift to spice things up a bit!

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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