Verses come, choruses don't :-/

Guitar Tricks Forum > Songwriting > Verses come, choruses don't :-/

karldali

Full Access

Joined: 12/30/19

Posts: 8

Hello GT people!

So i've set myself a task in order to learn what chords live in the main keys.

The task is simple - Write a song in every key! This will encourage and force me to learn what's where (I, II, III etc) and how to change between all the chords whilst keeping it fun.

Thing is, I find that verses come easy but I hit a wall when it comes to writing a chorus. Any tips, ideas or videos with some instruction would be greatly appreciated.

I should also say thats its the lyrics of the chorus that I struggle with, if i could get the words to flow then ill just match the chords to the lyrics (not sure if thats right or wrong but its what i've been doing whilst messing about).

How to get it to be different but remain part of the theme??

I hope this all makes sense, im very new to theory so i've explained it best I can.

Thanks for reading and take care.

#1

Hello GT people!

So i've set myself a task in order to learn what chords live in the main keys.

The task is simple - Write a song in every key! This will encourage and force me to learn what's where (I, II, III etc) and how to change between all the chords whilst keeping it fun.

Thing is, I find that verses come easy but I hit a wall when it comes to writing a chorus. Any tips, ideas or videos with some instruction would be greatly appreciated.

I should also say thats its the lyrics of the chorus that I struggle with, if i could get the words to flow then ill just match the chords to the lyrics (not sure if thats right or wrong but its what i've been doing whilst messing about).

How to get it to be different but remain part of the theme??

I hope this all makes sense, im very new to theory so i've explained it best I can.

Thanks for reading and take care.

theMolster

Full Access

Joined: 04/30/20

Posts: 50

Hi there,

I have had the same sort of problem and came across this tutorial:

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=JrcAo0VuL60

I think it's pretty helpful in some ways. Talks about ways to arrange, relative major/minor keys in a pretty simple way.

You can direct message me I think if you like and send me some of your lyrics including the chorus: I'd be interested to see what you mean by struggling.

Hope this helps. I'm quite new to this all to but finding it very interesting.

Cheers,

theMolster

#2

Hi there,

I have had the same sort of problem and came across this tutorial:

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=JrcAo0VuL60

I think it's pretty helpful in some ways. Talks about ways to arrange, relative major/minor keys in a pretty simple way.

You can direct message me I think if you like and send me some of your lyrics including the chorus: I'd be interested to see what you mean by struggling.

Hope this helps. I'm quite new to this all to but finding it very interesting.

Cheers,

theMolster

f1kss22l

Registered User

Joined: 07/07/19

Posts: 14

Thank you theMolster for sharing this video. I have the same issue as the autor and I found your video useful.

#3

Thank you theMolster for sharing this video. I have the same issue as the autor and I found your video useful.

theMolster

Full Access

Joined: 04/30/20

Posts: 50

Originally Posted by: f1kss22l

Thank you theMolster for sharing this video. I have the same issue as the autor and I found your video useful.

No worries, glad I could help!

#4

Originally Posted by: f1kss22l

Thank you theMolster for sharing this video. I have the same issue as the autor and I found your video useful.

No worries, glad I could help!

faith83

Full Access

Joined: 04/23/20

Posts: 194

One easy trick is, just step up to the 5th and see what happens.

But... not that we shouldn't strive to overcome our limitations and weak spots, but I recently heard Emmylou Harris point out that our limitations define our style. Not all songs need choruses -- that's just a convention. Maybe your style is more of a Kris Kristofferson/Bob Dylan storytelling style. That's pretty good company to be in, IMO.

"You can get what you want or you can just get old." Billy Joel

#5

One easy trick is, just step up to the 5th and see what happens.

But... not that we shouldn't strive to overcome our limitations and weak spots, but I recently heard Emmylou Harris point out that our limitations define our style. Not all songs need choruses -- that's just a convention. Maybe your style is more of a Kris Kristofferson/Bob Dylan storytelling style. That's pretty good company to be in, IMO.

"You can get what you want or you can just get old." Billy Joel

valberg

Beginner/Intermediate

Joined: 05/07/20

Posts: 8

The opposite problem ..

.. that's funny because I have the opposite problem. I find it comparitively easy to come up with a chorus but get stuck on the verses. I know Keith Richards and Mick Jagger were the same .. Keith came up with all the choruses and Jagger made the verses.

Rock, Punk, Blues

#6

The opposite problem ..

.. that's funny because I have the opposite problem. I find it comparitively easy to come up with a chorus but get stuck on the verses. I know Keith Richards and Mick Jagger were the same .. Keith came up with all the choruses and Jagger made the verses.

Rock, Punk, Blues

snojones

Full Access

Joined: 04/17/13

Posts: 254

I would suggest you try Faith’s suggestion of grabbing the 5th. Also try modulating into the Relative Minor key for the Chorus. Also think about changing the rhythm to half time or double time. Or, play the verses you have written and try jumping into random chords where the chorus would start (probably in the song’s key signature). Really listen to how those random chords grab your attention.

Also start listening to songs you like. Try dissecting how they work. This will start you on the road to becoming a better Songsmith. Try to figure out why you like those songs. As you write think about how your heroes make transitions. This will also have the benefit of broadening your appreciation of why your like those songs.

One of the most striking things I have observed in music, is that people all have differing styles of song writing. Some start with words and others with music. Some concentrate on a good guitar hook, some start with an intellectual idea, some are build around a catchy phrase, some are just random ideas mixed up in unique ways. Some songs are built around a catchy chord pattern, or rhythm, some are a way of dealing with powerful emotions. Hell… Some just appear like a bolt out of the blue.

In fact, there are probably as many ways to write music as there are musicians who what to do so. As you develop as a Songsmith, your will find your way to your own path. Remember, if you are writing songs, even bad songs, you are growing as a writer. There are no RIGHT AND WRONG ways of writing. Just keep writting...

Lastly remember, this is not a race to some arbitarty finish... Played right, it can be a rewarding lifetime avocation.

#7

I would suggest you try Faith’s suggestion of grabbing the 5th. Also try modulating into the Relative Minor key for the Chorus. Also think about changing the rhythm to half time or double time. Or, play the verses you have written and try jumping into random chords where the chorus would start (probably in the song’s key signature). Really listen to how those random chords grab your attention.

Also start listening to songs you like. Try dissecting how they work. This will start you on the road to becoming a better Songsmith. Try to figure out why you like those songs. As you write think about how your heroes make transitions. This will also have the benefit of broadening your appreciation of why your like those songs.

One of the most striking things I have observed in music, is that people all have differing styles of song writing. Some start with words and others with music. Some concentrate on a good guitar hook, some start with an intellectual idea, some are build around a catchy phrase, some are just random ideas mixed up in unique ways. Some songs are built around a catchy chord pattern, or rhythm, some are a way of dealing with powerful emotions. Hell… Some just appear like a bolt out of the blue.

In fact, there are probably as many ways to write music as there are musicians who what to do so. As you develop as a Songsmith, your will find your way to your own path. Remember, if you are writing songs, even bad songs, you are growing as a writer. There are no RIGHT AND WRONG ways of writing. Just keep writting...

Lastly remember, this is not a race to some arbitarty finish... Played right, it can be a rewarding lifetime avocation.

Carl King

GuitarTricks Video Director

Joined: 10/08/07

Posts: 349

As others have pointed out there are many styles of songwriting (I like what snojones said), but here are my own observations, and how I think when writing:

Verses tend to be stripped-down in comparison to choruses. Verse lyrics typically don't repeat (that's the job of the chorus). So... understanding all of the lyrics in the verse is important. It's what tells the story from beginning to end. It helps if you can get the music out of the way during the verses, so the lyrics aren't getting stepped on.

What you might want to do is think in reverse: take whatever cool chords you have for your verse, and instead make them your chorus chords. THEN, to come up with a verse, just simplify those chords. So, you'd be starting with the big cool idea (chorus) and then make a smaller idea out of that (verse). An easy way to do that is remove chords.

Let's say you have a 3-chord strumming idea: G-C-D. Make that your Chorus.

Assuming you want the Verse to also be in the key of G (this is a common thing to do, but you could also change keys), try just staying on G for most of it, while those verse lyrics get all the attention and do their job. Throw in an occasional C chord at the end of a phrase. That way, when you finally hit that D chord it's going to be important and have an impact.

Then, in your big chorus section, use all of those chords. It'll make it much more exciting to have that contrast.

But that's just one common way to do it.

-Carl.

Carl King
GuitarTricks Video Director / Producer

#8

As others have pointed out there are many styles of songwriting (I like what snojones said), but here are my own observations, and how I think when writing:

Verses tend to be stripped-down in comparison to choruses. Verse lyrics typically don't repeat (that's the job of the chorus). So... understanding all of the lyrics in the verse is important. It's what tells the story from beginning to end. It helps if you can get the music out of the way during the verses, so the lyrics aren't getting stepped on.

What you might want to do is think in reverse: take whatever cool chords you have for your verse, and instead make them your chorus chords. THEN, to come up with a verse, just simplify those chords. So, you'd be starting with the big cool idea (chorus) and then make a smaller idea out of that (verse). An easy way to do that is remove chords.

Let's say you have a 3-chord strumming idea: G-C-D. Make that your Chorus.

Assuming you want the Verse to also be in the key of G (this is a common thing to do, but you could also change keys), try just staying on G for most of it, while those verse lyrics get all the attention and do their job. Throw in an occasional C chord at the end of a phrase. That way, when you finally hit that D chord it's going to be important and have an impact.

Then, in your big chorus section, use all of those chords. It'll make it much more exciting to have that contrast.

But that's just one common way to do it.

-Carl.

Carl King
GuitarTricks Video Director / Producer