Song Structure Terminology –
Understanding the Song Better!
Musical Terms that describe Song Structure and Musical Form help us to know how to sing or play the song, and show us the order in which we should follow the relevant music score or song sheet. These terms often instruct us as to which parts of the score to sing, which parts of the score to repeat, and also what kind of an overall musical form or structure the song adopts.
There are also other musical terms that describe the rhythm and tempo of a piece of music or a song, telling the musician or singer how fast or how slow to perform the relevant piece. Other musical terms also describe the dynamics, singing technique, expression and feel and so on in a song or a piece of music. Click on the relevant links to find out more about these useful musical terms!
If you wish to see all these musical terms at one glance, check out the Glossary of Useful Musical Terms that i have prepared especially for you on this website! I trust that you will find this glossary useful as it lists most of the musical terms you will come across in your musical journeys as a musician or a singer!
Now, some of the basic Song Structure Terminology refer to the various parts of a song or piece of music. For example, the Verse of a song would often refer to the starting section of the song, although some songs are known to not start off with a verse section. The verse is also where the singer begins to tell the story of the song, fleshing out the background ideas through the lyrics, and leading up to the pre chorus or chorus segments.
The Pre Chorus segment comes just before the chorus, and it usually happens when the songwriter feels that the verse is insufficient to develop the story of the song, and another section is needed to flesh out more ideas, or perhaps lead the audience to another twist in the tale of the song.
As for the Chorus section, it is the part where the main hook or the catchiest part of the song’s melody will lie, and is also the section that most listeners will be able to repeat after one or two listenings of the song! The Chorus section of a song is also where the lyrics of the song are usually the most exciting, telling the crux of the tale and showing the listener the main idea of the song, or the climax in the story plot of the song!
Sometimes, after the ‘Chorus’ section, there may be an additional Bridge section, which seeks to further develop the story in the song, and perhaps provide another twist in the tale. The ‘Bridge’ section usually would lead back to ‘Chorus’ section in most songs, and should be used sparingly and only when necessary, or there may be a risk that the song may become too long or the story become too draggy.
Apart from the above song structure terms, there are also other musical terms that direct the singer or musician to follow various parts of the song sheet or music score during the performance or recording. These include the Repeat sign, which is made up of 2 dots beside 2 bar lines, telling the singer to repeat to a previous section of the song with the corresponding symbol.
Another term is the Dal Segno (D.S.) notation, which instructs the singer to repeat the song from an earlier section with the corresponding D.S. sign, and either to sing all the way through to the end of the song, or to sing until the singer reaches a Coda sign, instructing them to move downwards to the Coda section of the song. This ‘Coda’ section is usually the final part of the song, after which the song will usually end.
Now, there are also other song structure terms that tell the singer or musician what kind of a piece of music they are performing, and also how they should perform it. For example, a song can either be a Solo song or a Duet song. The difference in a solo and duet song usually lies in harmony singing as well as coordination of voice parts.
In a solo song, the singer is in full control and can usually interpret the song in their own way, sometimes even adding new melody variations to the song, sometimes referred to as Ad Lib. (Ad Libitum; Latin).
However, in a duet song, the singers have to coordinate with each other in terms of timing, as well as to harmonize with each other as and when there are harmony parts. Some duet songs do not have harmony parts, but they would rely on certain echoing or answering techniques to make the song more interesting, and the 2 singers would have to coordinate with regards to this aspect of the song.
Other song structure terms are even more interesting! For example, in a Medley, various sections of different songs can be pieced together and performed as a single song! This would usually require some adjustment in key and also in modulation, ensuring the various parts of the songs flow from one section to another.
Another interesting musical term is a Canon, which is a musical form where a melody or phrase of the song is repeated throughout the song in various ways! This melodic phrase can even be repeated backwards, inverted, or even at various tempos, making the variations plentiful and the song even more interesting and exciting!
To find out more of such interesting song structure terms as well as other musical terms, check out the Glossary of Useful Musical Terms that i have provided for your reference on this website!
I am sure you will find these musical terms useful and they will be able to help you on your journey towards better singing and musical skills!
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