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A Resource for the Aspiring Vocalist

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Anatomy of a Song

Understanding song structure enables musicians to play songs they never heard before, because in popular music most songs share common structures that are formed from various patterns, some of which we already are very familiar with. The Anatomy of a Song takes a deeper look into what these patterns are and gives tips on how combinations build a song structure, both musically and lyrically. For these patterns we will use names commonly used in popular music.

Structuring songs with recording software

Structuring songs with recording software

A brief look into Music Theory

Musicians that have looked into music theory most likely discovered that they can construct melodies and chords out of a group of pitches called the scale, which in music theory is also called key. Equipped with this knowledge a musician can improvise his playing by only using notes according to the scale. If a musician now would be able to know the song structure, he could improvise right through the whole song.

Thankfully in modern popular music many songs of one genre are constructed in a very similar way. Knowing this construction and the building blocks behind it will help the musician to get there.

So what are Patterns?

Patterns are describing the way multiple building blocks, called sections, are put together to build a song structure. Most commonly each section is given a name taken from the alphabet, a letter. So if we per example have three different sections, we would call them "A", "B", and "C". Each of those sections will have a specific length, per example 8 bars, which is filled with chords and notes.

We now can put this sections together to build a sequence of multiple such building blocks. Per example we could build a sequence of "AABA", which consequently would be 32 bars long, and consist of two of our building blocks, 3 x the "A", and 1 x the "B". If we think in lyrics, this sequence or pattern will have it's own name, e.g. a verse.

Structuring with Parts

At Lead Vocals we call a sequence or pattern a part. Learn what kind of parts exist in popular and traditional music, what these structural elements contain, and how they are placed within a composition.

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