How To Use Musical Form To Write Great Songs

Tommaso Zillio

musical form basics

Does this ever happen to you? You have a great musical idea - a melody, a riff, a chord progression - and not know how to go from that idea to a complete song. You would be surprised, but this is one of the most common problems that songwriters and composers face. And there is a solution: read on.

Not only you are not the first person that finds hard to go from a single idea to a whole piece of music: it actually seem that EVERY composer in the history of music had the same problem at a certain point in his or her life. So, yeah, I could tell you the whole story of how this happened to me... but the truth is that it happens to EVERYBODY.

It is in fact a problem so common that a whole part of Music Theory is dedicated to the study of it and the possible solutions. This is the study of Musical Form.

When you study Musical Form you learn the principles of how to "cast" a musical idea into a longer period of time and how to make it sounds good. You will also see a number of examples. For instance, most modern pop songs all use the same form: Intro-Verse-Chorus-Verse-Chorus-Bridge-Chorus-Chorus.

There is a problem though. I have read countless books on Musical Form (not bragging: if anything I confess that it took more than one book for me to really understand it...) and ALL of them, with no exception make the same disclaimer: "the study of musical form is great for analyzing pieces of music, but it should NEVER be used for composition, otherwise the resulting piece of music will sound stiff and lifeless"

Oh my, I wanted to use it precisely for composition! What would I care about analyzing songs if I can't write my own?

Turns out, there IS a way to use musical form for composition that will give great results. It's not even hard, and by learning it you will also understand how to go from a single idea to a complete piece of music. In the video below I'll give you a simple introduction to musical form and how to use it for composition. Watch it now:

And now that you have watched the video, go back to that idea for a song that you had for a long time... and make an actual song out of it!

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