If you ever noticed that all your favorite songs follow the same structure? It doesn’t matter if it’s a pop song or a ballad, there is always a certain part of the song that sounds like. That is because most songwriters use the same elements of music and song structure they learned in music theory.
Song structure plays a significant role in the songwriting process. It refers to how sections of a song are arranged and organized. There are usually at least two distinct parts to a song, both musically and lyrically. They can be called Chorus, Bridge, or Verse sections, or they can simply be called A and B sections.
So, if you are wondering what are the elements of a song and the purpose of each element. Read on!
What Are the Elements of A Song?
There are ten basic elements of a song. These are melody, rhythm, chords, genre, hook, concept, lyrics, arrangements, song sections, and length. Each plays a specific role that cannot be sacrificed. Let’s take a look at each element and the role it plays in a song.
The 10 Basic Elements Of A Song
A melody is the tune of a song that you sing or play. Catchy melodies are regarded as the best melodies. This is because if the melody or tune of the song is memorable your song will stick into the listener's head.
The rhythm or beat of a song is what causes the listener to “feel” a song (fast or slow). It is also known as the tempo (speed) of a song. Music stirs our emotions, so we are often attracted to a song based on its beat. This often derives from the beat or rhythm created by the various instruments ( guitar, drums, keys, and bass).
The song's melody is usually accompanied by chords. It is important to note that chords can also be part of what makes up the song's rhythm. However, the progression of the chords (order in which you play the chords) is generally indicative of the song’s melody.
Genre Vs. Style
In most cases, the beat and rhythm of a song determine the genre of the song ( r&b, country, pop, rock, etc.). Once the song is composed with words and/or instruments, the style may change.
The style of the song typically refers to the version of the genre the song’s message or melody falls under. A song could fall under one or more of a wide range of styles. Including, but not limited to, alternative, punk rock, bluegrass, hip hop, etc.
Hook / Chorus
In a nutshell, the hook is that part of the song that you just can't forget. Even if you don't like it, there is a tendency for it to stick to your head. Think about it, have you ever heard a song and initially thought it wasn’t all that, but later found yourself humming the chorus? That was because the song had a great hook.
All of your favorite songs (even if not memorable) have great hooks. It is also possible for a song to have sub hooks, which are sections, words, and phrases of music that will stick in your head. Song titles can also be “singable” hooks and phrases.
The storyline or theme of every song is different. Most songs tell a story. Great songs tell a story thats relatable. Songs usually contain a title that conveys the essence of that story idea with lyrics that elaborate on that idea or theme.
In a song, the lyrics are the words that express what is being said. Song lyrics describe the concept, theme, and/or title of the song. Lyrics are typically rhymed in rhythmic phrases within the sections of music.
There are actually two parts to the arrangement. To begin with, the arrangement refers to the order in which sections of music are arranged. There is typically an intro, verse, pre chorus, and chorus. Then either a verse would be repeated or a bridge would be introduced. Followed by a final chorus or hook to end the song.
The arrangement also includes the organization of the instruments, vocals, and/or other parts of the song.
There are many different sections within a song, such as an intro, verse, bridge, chorus, etc. The verse explains the concept of the title and hook that appears in the chorus.
Other sections in the song will serve to support these main components, such as the intro, bridge, lead breaks, etc. A section is composed of measures (also called bars) which are usually four beats long. The length of sections can vary, but they are typically eight measures (bars).
The final element in a song is the length. The length of a song depends on the use of the song. Today, a radio song is usually between three and a half and four minutes long if it is being written and arranged for radio airplay. In today's musical formats, they can be shorter or longer, but this is the typical length.
Although there are ten elements listed here, you will find songs that are successful with less (or more) of these elements. Using a variation of these doesn't make the song right or wrong, it simply means it was different.