Rock.gifInfluential Bands in the Rock Genre | Famous Subgenres of Rock | Infamous Deaths in the Rock Genre
Getting Noticed | The Structure of a Typical Rock or Metal Song
RETURN TO HOMEPAGE

The Basic Structure of a Typical Rock/Metal Song


Since music has been around so long, there is no set in stone way to write a song. Obviously, there is a certain structure, instrumentation, as well many other factors that distinguish rock and metal songs from other genres of music.

Introduction:
The introduction is one of the most important parts of a rock or metal song. The introduction is what reels the listener in, and makes them want to listen to the rest of the song. A song will not be well accepted by the public if it has a bad intro. Some songs (typically trash/speed metal songs) have longer than usual introductions. The two songs below are from two different bands (Avenged Sevenfold and Metallica). Metallica's introduction for "For Whom The Bell Tolls" is approximately 2:10 long, and it is essentially a mini-song before the lyrics come in. Avenged Sevenfold's "Brompton Cocktail" is a short but sweet introduction with only strings and percussion that entices the listener.

........

Verse:
The Verse is essentially how the group tells their story. All songs are written to tell some sort of story, and the verse is essentially the backbone of the story that the song tells. Verses can range anywhere from 4 to 20 lines. This is a verse from "Smells Like Teen Spirit" by Nirvana. Kurt Cobain is revered by many as a songwriting virtuoso of his time.

Excerpt from "Heart Shaped Box" by Nirvana
She eyes me like a pisces when I am weak
I've been locked inside your Heart Shaped box, for weeks
I've been drawn into your magnet tar pit trap
I wish I could eat your cancer when you turn black


Kurt Cobain wrote "Heart Shaped Box" about his wife, Courtney Love. This is demonstrated best with the lyric "I've been locked inside your heart-shaped box for weeks", where he speaks of his uncontrollable love for Courtney Love. "Heart Shaped Box" debuted at number one on the Billboard Modern Rock Tracks and number five in the UK.

Kurt Cobain was (and still is) considered a songwriting virtuoso
Kurt Cobain was (and still is) considered a songwriting virtuoso


Chorus:
The Chorus is generally the part of the song you hear people singing. The Chorus is almost always the most well known part of the song. The chorus is generally sang after the introduction and verse, then repeated (sometimes with minor changes), after each verse and/or the bridge.

Oasis' "Wonderwall" is a good example of a chorus that has meaningful lyrics and changes in each one.
Excerpt from "Wonderwall" by Oasis
[Chorus 1]
And all the roads we have to walk along are winding
And all the lights that lead us there are blinding
There are many things that I would
Like to say to you
I don't know how

Because maybe
You're gonna be the one who saves me ?
And after all
You're my wonderwall

[Chorus 2]
And all the roads that lead to you were winding
And all the lights that light the way are blinding
There are many things that I would like to say to you
I don't know how

I said maybe
You're gonna be the one who saves me ?
And after all
You're my wonderwall


Bridge
The bridge is a part of the song that brings the song to another place, as to not bore the listener. It is usually used to either delay an expected chorus or replace the third verse in a song. It is generally used to surprise and enthrall the listener of a song. Needtobreathe's "Shine On" has an easy-to-recognize bridge, that appears at about 2:30 into the song. It replaces the third verse of the song, as it sounds different from the usual verse of the song.



"Shine On" by Needtobreathe
[Verse 1]
Somewhere between the end
And the point where we begin
There's a fire burning brightly
That's found it's way to dim
When the feeling's gone...

[Chorus 1]
Shine on Shine on
and onto something new its long and overdue
I will remember you
Shine on shine on
And let the other's see you've got your victory
Will you remember me

[Verse 2]
I was with you in the valley
And up upon that hill
So take just one more step in front of you
For I am with you still you still
And you're not alone

[Chorus 2]
Shine on Shine on
And onto something new its long and overdue
I will remember you
Shine on shine on
And let the other's see you've got your victory
Will you remember me

[Bridge]
Can you see my hands are open
I am waiting just ahead
And you think you need it all now
But you needed me instead


Shine on
Shine on
Shine on
Shine on won't you won't you shine

Shine on Shine on
And onto something new its long and overdue
I will remember you
Shine on shine on
And let the other's see you've got your victory
Will you remember me


Song Structure
Rock songs (and most other song genres) follow three different song forms. The first is ABA, a song structure typical of shorter songs (though some long songs, such as Master of Puppets by Metallica, have this form). This means that the song starts with an A section, which is the introduced verse and chorus. Then, the song moves to a new part, which is the bridge of the song. Then the song moves back into the original chorus.

Another structure, which is more common in metal ballads is AB form. This means that the song starts with a sort of ABA structure, but after that is finished, a newer section ensues, which is generally a heavier part.

Metallica's "One" is a song based around the book (and movie) Johnny Got His Gun. It exactly follows the AB form.