Hi there! First time posting, so hopefully this is in the right spot.

I've been trying to make an album, but keep falling into a "verse-chorus-verse-chorus-bridge-verse-chorus" pattern. Mostly because it's easy.

I was wondering what other song structures people have been using, and if there are any good books/tutorials I could follow,  or maybe some songs that can serve as examples. I've tried the "listen and wing it" approach, but my melodies seem to run away from me before going back to what I know (ABAB).

Any ideas?


Here's a trick I've found useful- listen to songs you like and write down their structures, then try and recreate those structures in songs you write. You may find that there's certain structures that are particularly appealing to you that you can use going forward.


be open to ANYTHING. maybe your second chorus comes in a bar early. maybe it comes in a bar late. maybe it ends a bar early. maybe something needs to be different - maybe a key change. maybe you don't need a bridge. maybe you need a totally different thing. what would be a fun surprise after a verse or chorus? in general, consider what the song needs, and be open to anything. sometimes it's good to take a break, clear your mind for a moment, then listen from the beginning and when you get to the last part you've finished, really consider what the song needs next. kris k's advice of studying song forms is also excellent for gathering ideas of possibilities.

Alive and well in fucksville

Try doing the circle of fifths progression!

Brunswick, GA USA

AAB works for quick tunes, and for punk.

AABA is standards jazz.

Bullshit-build-drop is EDM

ABCDC is marches

Dallas, Texas

Anything goes really. I have some tunes that go anywhere from ABACB to ABCDEABCDE. There certainly are conventions but there are actually no rules. Trying to step outside your comfort zone is absolutely the right idea though. You will only grow as a musician. Sounds like you're doing things right by trying new things.


these are what helped me

be open to sudden, jarring changes. they may seem super wrong at first, but do it enough and you'll get used to it

listen to some 70s prog and try to figure out how they do it

write two completely different sections without thinking of the other, and try to join them somehow by leading into one from the other. I cobbled together multiple bits I wrote from a span of around 10 years for one track, it's prog as fuck

forget verse-chorus structure unless you're specifically writing lyrics for such a structure, but even then, only the chorus really needs to be similar every time. try writing a totally different verse progression for each "verse"

use two completely different choruses

change instrumentation each time a section repeats, or time signature, or tempo, or all of those

use brian eno's oblique strategies to think outside the box


Never underestimate the simplicity of adding an instrument on repeat sections! Or, if you already have too many, try taking some away at the beginning.


Man, this is all really good advice! I think I'll try making a song with each tip to see what works for me, and hopefully kill some old habits. I was also reading The Complete Idiot's Guide To Music Composition today, and it had a section that I thought was really cool. It said that instead of doing A parts and B parts, maybe think of entire sections of the song as A parts and B parts,  with their own patterns (like ABAB) inside them.

I'm working on a song right now that goes:


So the "A" section is ABC, and the "B" section is DEF. But I made it so that  A and D are variations of each other, as are C and F. So when DEF goes into CBA, the F and C flow like one piece. And then when it goes out of CBA back to DEF, the A and the D flow together.

I don't know when that track will be finished, but the pattern's working really well, so I wanted to share.

Once again, thanks for all the help so far! It's really appreciated. smile

Last edited by HoneyWizard (Feb 1, 2018 7:47 am)


Most of my tracks lately have been going ABABCDEF