How To Structure Your Songs From Beginning To End (Songwriting Tips For Beginners)

songwriting tips for beginners

Song structure is more than just "the order you put things in." When taken seriously, the arrangement you choose can have a ripple effect of awesomeness that touches other elements of your song. Important ones too– like the story, dynamics, emotion, delivery and memorability (just to name a few!).  

But how do you decide what structure to use for your song? There are so many arrangement tips and endless examples of ways to structure things. There are some traditional "best practices" to follow for sure, but there's also some established rules to break. It also largely depends on the genre of music you're making and the goals you have for those songs.

It's time to combine the "book smarts" with some "street smarts." Given the streaming era we're creating in (and consequently, the shortening attention spans of listeners), we need to take what's reliable about traditional song structure and combine it with the effectiveness of contemporary arrangements. Let's dive in!

As a beginner there are some key players that you need to get familiar with.

We’ll start with the A-Team: Verse, Chorus & Bridge


Details, Story, Context, Setting the scene


The great sum up. Where your overall concept and theme is driven home. Chorus is king, and all other parts of the song bow down to it. It’s the reason your verses, bridges, pre choruses make sense.


It does what it says- it’s quite literally the bridge to take your song to another place before, usually, the final chorus. It’s an opportunity to resolve something, to further express something, to approach your concept from a different angle or a different play on words.

These parts of a song are what make a song. If we didn’t go any further, you’re already set!

Here are the supporting characters: Intro/Outro, Pre-Chorus, Post-Chorus


What happens to open your song and what happens to close it. The intro sets the mood, tone, feel while the outro typically resolves the mood, tone, or feel. The outro is underestimated a lot, but it can also be used very creatively as the final touch in your song!


A mini bridge that can close a gap between the verse and chorus. It can take details of the story found in verses, and expand on them in a broader way, setting up a chorus. Slowly zooming out for the chorus to land.


There’s a lot of opinions on what this is, but I just define it as something cool and chorus-like that comes after the chorus to continue the energy. It could be a hook, it could be a continuation of the chorus music with a different vocal melody.

Here are some third tier characters: Break, Breakdown, Interlude


A section where things take a turn, and the music and/or melody “break” away from the assumed flow of the song.


A form of transition, where instruments and dynamics peel away and die down in a specific order to lay the song down for a bit. Usually for a moment of intimacy, commonly found before a final chorus or during an outro.


Another form of transition. Typically a section of a song where the music speaks for itself (so usually no vocals) and carries the listener to another part of the song. These parts aren't always used in songs. A lot of times, the genre of music will determine how common it is to use these. For example, a stripped down style probably won’t use a break as often as an EDM or Rock/Alternative vibe. There are no rules about this, it’s up to the artist. But general observations like this can serve as helpful guidelines to the beginner songwriter.

Now that we’ve talked about the pieces that make up the structure of a song, let’s talk about how to arrange them in your song from start to finish. Song structure is important, because the sequence you put these pieces into is another tool you have to tell the story you want to, but also what will help your songs start to sound more like songs.

Let’s dive into some of the most common arrangements:

Intro → Verse 1 → Chorus → Verse 2 → Chorus → Bridge → Chorus (x2) → Outro

Intro → Verse 1 → Pre Chorus → Verse 2 → Pre Chorus → Chorus → Bridge → Chorus (x2) → Outro

Sometimes, a song will start right away with a verse:

Verse 1 → Chorus → Verse 2 → Chorus → Bridge → Chorus (x2)

Verse 1 → Pre Chorus → Verse 2 → Pre Chorus → Chorus → Bridge → Chorus (x2)

*This can be a benefit, b/c of the streaming world we live in, jumping right in with music and lyrics can act as a 1-2 punch. It’s a combo that can hook a listener, which is good because it gives your song a chance to be heard.

Or a song will start right away with a chorus:

Chorus → Verse 1 → Chorus → Verse 2 → Chorus → Bridge → Chorus (x1)

Chorus → Verse 1 → Pre Chorus → Chorus → Verse 2 → Pre Chorus → Chorus → Bridge → Chorus (x1)

*Similar to starting with a verse, beginning with a chorus is a great way to hook listeners' interest because ideally you’re presenting the catchiest, fullest part of your song right away.

So experiment and don’t overthink it. Remember, song structure is just that… structure. It’s just labels for specific parts of a song. What you fill those parts with matters more than sequencing something for the sake of sequencing something “the right way.” Just write your songs, lean into your intuitions, don’t be afraid to experiment and from there just decide what serves this song best. One song at a time!

You've got this!

– Nathan

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