Song Forms 2

Last months issue saw us looking at First and Second forms, also referred to as AAA and VCVCVCC respectively. Two of the most popular forms, Third and Fourth forms both add sections to expand the story. Click here to go back to the beginning.

Third form, like second form, contains Verse and Chorus sections but what makes it different is the added part known as the Bridge also known as the Middle 8 (which refers to the position in the song and the typical length of the section – eight measures [bars]). The function of the bridge is to add a new perspective to the story and to add a new musical flavour. Lyrically, this might be asking ‘what if…?’, or giving new info that doesn’t fit into a verse structure. A bridge typically doesn’t repeat, but usually leads back into the repeated chorus to take us to the end. When writing a Bridge it needs to be seen as a musically new section, so you typically wouldn’t recycle chord progressions or melodies from verses or chorus but create a new sound. It may dynamically comedown to a quiet reflection of the rest of the song or build with even a key change (like in “Leave The Pieces” by The Wreckers, written by Billy Austin and Jennifer Hanson). Its strength isn’t in a soaring melody and catchiness like a chorus, but in the fact that it is different. In terms of the rhyming scheme, it should also change from what was used previously in the verses and choruses.

Some great examples of this form are; “My Life Would Suck Without You” by Kelly Clarkson (written by Max Martin, Lukasz Gottwald and Claude Kelly) or “Then” by Brad Paisley (written by Chris DuBois, Ashley Gorley and Brad Paisley).

Fourth form is also similar to second form but the new section is known as a Pre-Chorus or Lift. Yep, it’s the short section between the verse and the chorus that provides a ramped up section to prepare you for the gloriously soaring chorus. Usually the pre-chorus is repeated exactly the same each time and similar to the bridge, it should have a unique rhyming scheme. Pre-Choruses often use some literary tricks, like rapid fire internal rhymes (“I stole a whole fruit bowl”) or alliteration (“Lucky lizards lounged while leering at Lucy”). Also, musically it should build and lead into the chorus. It is these types of ideas that make the Chorus seem catchier.

Trends in songwriting in the last 10 or so years have lead to the expansion of this form to also contain a Bridge. Obviously writers only use this when they have a lot to say and it won’t just fit into a couple of verses, a lift (repeated) and a chorus (repeated). For example, “Summer of ’69” by Bryan Adams, written by Bryan Adams and Jim Vallance.

Some Fourth form examples are; “Roar” by Katy Perry (written by Katy Perry, Lukasz Gottwald, Max Martin, Bonnie McKee and Henry Walter) and Taylor Swift’s “Sparks Fly”.

Next month we will finish up this 3-part series on song forms with a look at the final two forms – Fifth and Sixth forms.


Song Forms

Edited by Peter Muldoon – Original article appeared in Mouthzoff Magazine

Hey, let’s chat about something you don’t often hear about in depth – musical structure.

Everybody is familiar with the terms verse and chorus, some of you will also know bridge and pre-chorus and some will even be familiar with assigning letters to each different section, such as A, B, C and so on, but their purpose and how best to string them together often seems to be a bit ‘hit and miss’. I suppose we had better start by saying that there are six commonly used forms in music. I’m not dismissing all others, but simply giving a framework to base them on.

When we write a song we’re trying to communicate an idea – not just a lyric and a story, but also a feeling provided by the combination of music and words. If you were attempting to tell a story about a man who was frantically searching for his keys, you might try to reinforce the frustration (we’ve all experienced it) by singing fast and rapid-fire lines while musically switching to a new section at an odd time in the song, just as he would be changing direction after looking in the same places over and over again.

So, to try and understand how the sections of a song can impact the way the story is told let’s look at First Form. At first glance this is the simplest from of all because it’s just the same section over and over. Same chord progression and melody (maybe some subtle changes for each time around); however this can make it difficult to pull off. Not only does the story need to be interesting and develop throughout the song, but the title still needs to be in the prime location so that it is remembered. Typically this is in the first or last line of a section and in this form has a name for the more common-place end line – refrain.

Another thing to keep in mind is the rhyming scheme. For example, if you rhyme the first two lines “I love my fat orange cat, sometimes he wears a purple hat”, then the first two lines of the next ‘A’ section need to follow the same type of rhyme, but not necessarily the same sound, “Breakfast was just toast and jam, for lunch I think I’ll have clam”. This form originates from the 1930s when songwriters were like factory workers and would sit in a small room, working nine to five, cranking out song idea after another and when they came up with a good one they would run next door to the publisher who would then tell them to finish it. The first part they came up with is the bit that would be repeated and played on radio. This became known as the chorus, whereas the ‘rest of the song’ was the verse or the set up to the story. This part usually wasn’t as catchy, memorable or even the same tempo, so was often dropped before it reached the general public.

Examples from that era are Cole Porter’s “I get a kick out of you” and Hoagy Carmichael’s “Stardust”.

Second Formuses the verse and chorus to drive the song. This is used a lot in rock (with catchy guitar riffs), urban and folk. The chorus is the section that repeats throughout the song and is the memorable ‘singalong’ part, typically with the title in the first or last line. It contains the main idea of the lyrics and the main hook or riff of the song. The chorus chords and melody would normally remain the same on each repetition as would the verse. The verse fleshes out the idea and explains a lot more detail and although the lyrics change for each verse, the rhyming scheme remains the same, again not the same rhymes but the same format. A typical layout for a song in second form is Verse (V), Chorus (C), V, C, Instrumental, C with the chorus repeated until the end. If the songwriter has more to say they usually wouldn’t add a verse after the instrumental, but rather add a second verse before the first chorus – V, V, C, V, C, Instrumental, C, C, C.

Examples of rock songs that use second form are Rolling Stones’ “Satisfaction” and “Maybelline” by Chuck Berry.

When writing any form of song it is important to pace your lyrical ideas so that there is a sense of story with a number of stages. This doesn’t necessarily need to line up with different sections like the verse or chorus. A story that really pulls you in has detail and explains everything before the end of the song so that you’re not left wondering about what happened or why.

Next month we will look at two of the most popular forms, Thirdand Fourthand how they add sections to expand the story.

Edited by Peter Muldoon – Original article appeared in Mouthzoff Magazine

Automate Your Life

Edited by Peter Muldoon – Original article appeared in Mouthzoff Magazine

Wouldn’t it be great if you did not have to deal with the minutia of everyday life and instead could delegate repetitive tasks to technology? Well, you can! While there is not one all encompassing application or website that can take over your whole digital life, I have been using a number of services that may be useful for promoting your music and trying to make a name for yourself.

Here is a quick introduction to the essentials:

http://www.ifttt.comis a web service that connects other web applications to each other. There are 68 different ‘channels’ (such as the weather, email, Facebook, Dropbox, YouTube etc.) that may be used in each ‘recipe’ as ‘triggers’ and ‘actions’.

While everyone is probably familiar with Google’s Calendar web application and its capabilities with reminders and scheduling of conflicting events, I find it an effective hub for all of my events and related information.

Google’s Gmail is another staple for completing tasks. Two of the most useful features are canned responses and filters. The best uses of these are in combination. For example, any email that contains (or does not contain) certain words can trigger a pre-written email in response.

http://www.dropbox.comis a synchronising application in the form of a shared folder that you install on your computer. It automatically synchronises any chosen folder or file with the cloud and it very simple to use. The Dropbox folder will appear on your computer and all you need to do it drag and drop files or folders into the Dropbox folder. Another user or computer that has Dropbox has the ability to view or share these files once access has been granted by the folder administrator. Any changes made to these shared files is then applied across everyone’s Dropbox.

If you have ever wanted to schedule an email for later or recurring multiple times, http://www.lettermelater.comis for you. In addition, you can use this service from your email account.

While http://www.mailchimp.comis commonly used, the advantage of http://www.campayn.comis that its free plan has autoresponders, allowing you to automatically send an email once a user has been added to your list.

Here is an example of how these services can be utilised together:

As a gigging musician and teacher, I like to promote the gigs I am playing but often forget to post anything on Facebook. Enter http://www.ifttt.comas the connection between my event in Google Calendar and the Facebook page that I would post my event to. While we are on the subject of Facebook and Dropbox, I have another http://www.ifttt.comrecipe that ‘automagically’ downloads any photos,that I am tagged in, straight to my Dropbox. When a new student is added to my roster, I add them to a list on my Campayn account. This then triggers an autoresponder that sends them an email with all of the information they will need. Presto!

What about reminding students about their upcoming lesson? While this is a little more complicated in that it uses four services and a bit more technical know-how, the time saved is completely worth it. I use a custom recipe on Yahoo pipes (this requires a little more knowledge of programming, file types and general technology) to filter and reorder the Google Calendar rss feed for only tomorrows lesson entries. http://www.ifttt.comthen reads the vital information, such as the email address to send it to and start and finish times, as well as the payment details and sends the prewritten email with this information inserted more than 24 hours before their lesson.

Setting Profiles for Android (and there are several similar applications for iOS) is a handy application that can control your phone’s settings such as wallpaper, wifi/data, bluetooth, sound and more that renders your so-called ‘smart phone’ actually smart. I use it to read my calendar events and set my phone to silent during travel, gigs and teaching. In addition, if I receive a call that miss during one of these times, the application will sms the caller to let them know that I will call them back as soon as possible.

Scheduling emails is easy with After you have set up an account, just send your email (with in your usual email program) to with the subject and body of your email as you would normally, but with the addition of “to:”, the email address of the person you are sending it to and on the next line “when:” with the day and time. Press send and it will arrive at your intended recipient at the right time. Awesome!

Sign up for these services, explore the premade recipes and if you find one that makes your life easier please share it with me at

Edited by Peter Muldoon – Original article appeared in Mouthzoff Magazine

For more info on how I work, see my previous article:

I’m Sonic Edwards, and This Is How I Work

Location: Brisbane, Australia
Current Gig: Musician, Educator, Music Industry jack-of-all-trades
Current mobile device: HTC Incredible S
Current computer: Frankenstein Windows 7 Desktop, and Toshiba Satellite M300 Laptop
One word that best describes how you work: In-large-creative-chunks…
What apps/software/tools can’t you live without?

Google Calendar. There are heaps of other apps that I love and use everyday, like Zapier, IFTTT, Growl, AutoIt and AutoHotKey, but I can’t live without my GCal. From sending automated reminder emails to students and gig promotion, it all hinges on my electronic calendar being my hub. Ooh, and Dropbox…. A real lifesaver!

EDIT: See for more info on how I use these and other services.

What’s your workspace like?
Usually, very cluttered. As it’s a home office (and shared space), my wife hates it so I clean it up every now and then. And then I wonder where I put that stuff. I’m very comfortable working in my pyjamas and knowing exactly how far down the pile of papers I need to dig to find that scribbled phone number.
Pictured above: Part of Sonic's workspace.
Pictured above: Part of Sonic’s workspace. 

What’s your best time-saving trick?

Automation with Zapier, IFTTT, AutoIt, AutoHotKey.

What’s your favorite to-do list manager?

Until recently, RTM (Remember The Milk), but due to work flow and it’s integration with Zapier, definitely Gtasks (on android) with Google Tasks.

What everyday thing are you better at than anyone else?

Cutting through to the underlying ‘rules’ in processes, thought, music, whatever. It really took me a while to understand and value how I think. Now, I live by what I learn.

What do you listen to while you work?

Part of my work is to learn other peoples music, so whatever I’m working on. Otherwise a mix of classical, jazz, pop, country, whatever. I really don’t discriminate.

Are you more of an introvert or extrovert?

Instinctively, I’m an introvert but if I have something to say (that nobody else has or is going to say) I really take the floor, which makes people think that I’m an extrovert. Confusing, huh!?

What’s your sleep routine like?

Boring. (I don’t track, I just know I didn’t get enough sleep because I feel tired.) I work into the evening most nights and sometimes into the early morning, so generally I slepp anywhere from 10pm to 11pm and wake up around 7:30am/8am. And soft start with coffee….

Fill in the blank. I’d love to see ______ answer these same questions.

Albert Einstein.

What’s the best advice you’ve ever received?

“Everybody is a genius. But if you judge a fish by its ability to climb a tree, it will live its whole life believing that it is stupid.” – Albert Einstein


“Know the rules well, so you can break them effectively.” – The Dalai Lama