So you want to learn how to write a chorus? Great. You have come to the right place.
The chorus is arguably the most important part of the song.
Take your time when writing choruses, they often take a bit of fiddling with to get just right. But when you get them right it is so worth it.
Having people sing along to a chorus you have written is one of the most rewarding experiences a musician can have so we will say it again, take your time getting it right.
It is not strictly necessary to change the chords from the verse into the chorus but it is the most common practice.
Changing the chords is an easy way to distinguish between a verse and chorus.
Take note of what feeling your verse chords have created. Once you have pinpointed this, you can either progress on that feeling or change it completely when it comes to the chorus.
If you have two sets of chords that work well together, try and work out which are the most “catchy” and use those for the chorus.
The chords of a chorus need to be clean and simple. Complex progressions are going to confuse the listener and become forgettable pretty easily.
If you don’t want to change the chords in the chorus then try playing the same progression in a slightly different rhythm or transpose it up or down an octave. This keeps things fresh for the listeners budding ears.
A chorus is a prime time to bring out the big guns and grip the listener with a killer hook.
A songs hook is normally a specific musical idea that “hooks” your audience's attention.
This can be a riff, phrase or sound that is memorable and catchy. It can be a single instrument or a combination of sounds all blended into one tasty idea.
Plainly put, it is what your listener would be humming throughout the day if done right. It’s a very important part of writing a great song.
If you want a more in-depth guide on how to write a hook, check out this page.
Melody can often be confused with the hook.
Although very similar ideas, a hook generally contains the melody but, the melody doesn’t always feature the hook.
Your melody can change throughout the song, there should always be a melody of some sort happening.
In the chorus, your main melody should (technically speaking) make up the musical notes of the hook.
A chorus melody should be different from the verse. This will differentiate the two sections of the song.
Have a look at how to write melodies if you need a little more info and inspiration.
The lyrics of a chorus should summarize what the whole songs theme is about. It is a chance to put down what you’re saying in a more to the point kind of way.
They should be catchy (or at
least more catchy than verse lyrics) and well placed. You do not want to
overcrowd the chorus with a novel's worth of lines.
They often resolve unanswered questions and themes that occurred throughout the verses.
When writing lyrics it’s helpful to view it like this...
All roads lead to the chorus. So let the audience feel like they have arrived and give them some clever lines that sum up what is being spoken about well.
It’s one thing to write different lyrics, but it is also important to change the way you sing from your verse to chorus.
Generally speaking, most choruses are sung In a higher more “give it all you got” kind of way. This all depends on the type of song you are writing.
Drawn out notes are also common throughout choruses, creating a more musical quality that provides more emotion.
around with the way you sing your lyrics in the chorus, there are no
rules here and sometimes the song calls for a totally unique spin on the
norm. So find a route through that is suited to the song.
If your track has a linear story then It could be nice to change a line or two within every chorus that goes by. Each time advancing the story a step forward.
Note that the changed line shouldn’t be something way off-topic to the original, but playfully and subtly be different from the previous.
This is not a must, however changing the rhythm slightly if not drastically can create momentum in a song.
Use rhythm as your weapon, It has the potential to make people dance like animals or gently sway. This is all up to you.
Only change the rhythm if it serves a purpose and enhances the chorus. If you are doing it just to make the chorus sound different then it's not worth changing. The same goes with the way you play the chords, should you pluck? Should you strum? etc.
This is directed to our pop writers out there. But use the title of your song in the chorus.
When repeated it will become ingrained in the listener's mind and easier to remember. Obviously, this is a personal preference but it is very common in pop music.
So take note if you want to write a pop hit!
A nice way to keep your listener's ears feeling fresh is to always ADD not SUBTRACT to every chorus that goes by.
Don’t stress, It's not like you have to write a different chorus. It can simply be an extra layer of sound or a couple of oohs and ahh’s that weren’t feature in the previous chorus.
This keeps the momentum going. The listener might not consciously notice the subtle new sounds but they will less likely become bored of the song.
Some times, just sometimes depending on the song (and we tread lightly here) a chorus is not needed.
If the verses contain enough of all of the above and a chorus seems ill-suited to the song's progression then dump it.
Try not to use this as a way of avoiding writing a chorus, use this technique intellectually.
If you do decide to not include a chorus, then make sure you leave space for a hook of some kind throughout the song.
A good idea is to also make use of a refrain. A refrain is generally a repeated line or lyric that occurs within the verses, this helps create familiarity throughout the song always bring the theme back “home”.
Writing choruses can be tricky, often they don’t come as naturally as we would like. Use your instincts and tinker around with these tips. Remember that at the end of the day every decision you make is up to you as the artist. If you like it then go with it.