Boasting: Lyrics with excessive pride and self-satisfaction about one’s achievements, possessions, or abilities.
Hooking Up: Lyrics that relate to sex.
Inspiration/Empowerment: Lyrics that reflect confidence, overcoming adversity, and/or motivation.
Introspection: Lyrics that examine one’s own thoughts or feelings.
Lifestyle: Lyrics that reflect the way one lives.
Love/Relationships: Lyrics that pertain to relationships between individuals. Includes (but is not limited to) platonic, romantic, or familial relationships.
Novelty: Lyrics that are unusual and/or comical.
Partying/Living it Up: Lyrics that pertain to social situations and/or a carefree attitude.
Religion: Lyrics that have religious connotations.
Intro (I): A section other than a verse or chorus that begins the song.
Verse (A): A section that communicates the song’s narrative (story). It usually contains a similar vocal melody between occurrences but different lyrics.
Pre-Chorus (PC): A section that functions to set-up the ensuing chorus through tension, energy, lyrical and/or melodic shifts. It typically features the same lyrics and similar accompaniment between occurrences.
Chorus (B): A section that provides the summation of a song’s narrative. Typically the most infectious, engaging, and memorable part of the song.
Bridge (C): A section that provides a pronounced vocal, musical, and/or energy level departure relative to other sections in the song and features new lyrics that provide a development in the narrative. Typically only occurs once in a song, though its elements may be recycled in other sections (e.g. outro).
Instrumental Break (IB): A section that features an instrumental hook or solo as its focal point, and is typically longer than four bars. Can contain vocals, but they are typically minimal.
Vocal Break (VB): A section that features a vocal hook as its focal point. Can include elements of the chorus, song title, proper and/or nonsense lyrics, and does not progress the narrative.
Outro (O): A unique section that concludes a song. Can be composed of recycled material from other song sections (chorus, bridge, etc.), unique material that doesn’t appear anywhere else in the song, or a combination of both.
Turnaround (T): A section four bars or shorter that provides a transition between sections.
Post Chorus: A classification of a song section, most typically a vocal or instrumental break, that follows the chorus and houses a unique or recycled instrumental and/or vocal hook.
Bridge Surrogate: In songs that do not contain a bridge, a section of the song (vocal break, instrumental break, or another section) that provides a pronounced musical and/or vocal departure relative to other sections in the song in lieu of a bridge.
“D” (Departure) Section: The classification of a song section that provides a pronounced vocal, lyrical, musical and/or energy level departure compared to the other song sections occurring between two-thirds and three-quarters of the way in. Among the different types of “D” sections are the bridge, which is by far the most popular, a one-off vocal break or instrumental break, or a diversified verse, pre-chorus or chorus compared to how they initially appear within the song.
Intro Characteristics & Techniques
Backing Music: The intro features some or all of the backing music that’s housed in the section that directly follows.
Hook-Based: The intro establishes one or more of the song’s main instrumental and/or vocal hooks.
Multipart: New elements are added to or removed from specific segments within the intro.
Sparse: The intro features minimal elements relative to other sections of the song.
Plug: The statement of the name of a primary or featured artist, producer or record label.
Outro Characteristics & Techniques
Grand Finale Hook Fest: This technique reprises some of the most infectious and engaging elements from multiple sections under one umbrella in the outro. It’s effective in heightening memorability while leaving the listener on a high and wanting more.
Wind Down: A technique in which the last section of the song brings the energy down following the preceding section, which is most typically the chorus. It’s effective in placing the listener gently back down on the ground following a high energy section, or maintaining the vibe while a song breaks down or fades out following a low or moderate energy section.
Ride Out: The outro’s energy is in the same general range as that of the preceding section, which is most typically the chorus. It can maintain groove, vibe and/or ride out the listener on an excited high as the song comes to a conclusion.
Ending Characteristics & Techniques
Abrupt: A short, sudden ending.
Sustained: Concludes with a held vocal or instrumental note or chord.
Resolved: Ends on the tonic of the song.
False: Unexpected and/or unresolved.
Fadeout: Backing music and/or vocals continue as the volume decreases gradually to nil.
K.I.S.S. ME Principle: Keep It Simple, Singable and Memorable. Applies to the process of writing melodic patterns in a concise, symmetrical and easy-to-follow manner.
A.I.D.E. Principle: Using a combination of action, imagery, detail and emotion to engross the listener in the story and heighten their connection.
- Action: Using verbs to describe a physical action
- Can be past, present or future tense; can be direct or implied action (i.e. “do that thing you do”)
- Imagery: Describing something or someone in a manner that conjures up an image
- Detail Devices: Notably enhancing the lyrics through descriptive adjectives, adverbs, idioms, metaphors, similes and slang
- Emotion: Using lyrics that describe or elicit an emotional response (can be direct or implied)
“Say It Again” Hook: A vocal hook where lyrics with the same or highly similar melody and/or rhythm are repeated in a back-to-back manner.
Multipart Hook: Two distinct melodic and/or lyrical segments coming together to form one cohesive, standout hook.
Instrumental Hook Techniques
Foundational Hooks: An instrumental hook that is part of the song’s core accompaniment and delivers the chord progression and/or groove both within and across sections.
Melodic Hooks: A solo melodic line that is featured on top of the core accompaniment. It generally features the same K.I.S.S. ME qualities as vocal hooks and can serve a variety of functions within a song’s framework to help maximize both memorability and engagement.
Hip Hop Beat Hook: A melodic or chordal hook that is a cohesive element of a hip hop/trap beat, most often in the place of additional chordal accompaniment such as keys, guitar or synth pads. Hip hop beat hooks are repetitive and present throughout the majority of the song.
E.O.L.A. (End-of-Line Accentuator): A motif that features a melodic and/or rhythmic changeup at the end of a line that contrasts the preceding melodic pattern. They are effective in heightening infectiousness, memorability, familiarity and rhyme scheme connection across lines that all share the same E.O.L.A.
A.M.P. (Alternating Melodic Pattern): A motif that features simple stepwise or intervallic melodies that alternate between two nearby pitches. They are effective in making a song sound more familiar to mainstream audiences due to their common use, providing a line with an infectious spin and heightening a line’s adherence to the K.I.S.S. ME principle.
S.I.A. Techniques (Section Impact Accentuators)
S.I.A.: A transitional technique that heightens engagement through an accompaniment pull (full or partial), effect (riser, downlifter, etc.) and/or fill.
Last Chorus Super S.I.A.: Extra beats are tacked onto the end of the section that directly precedes the last chorus to create an unexpected, tension-laden and anticipation-filled moment to greatly bolster its impact.
Recycled: Material that is utilized in other sections of the song.
New: Material that is unique to the section.
Breakdown: Features minimal elements compared to the preceding section, or other like-sections in the song. Can correspond to part or all of the section.
Prosody: The lyrics, vocals and music all jibe with one another to create a unified vibe and elicit emotion in the listener.
Like-Section: Song sections that play the same role in the song’s framework (i.e., verse 1 and verse 2).
Cross-Section: Song sections that play different roles in the song’s framework (i.e., verse 1 and pre-chorus 1).