In songwriting there is a term we refer to called “furniture”. It’s a simple concept and can help root your song in the real world. When you look at lyrics, especially in your own songs, are they only taking place in your mind? Is it all about emotion? Well to take your lyrics out of this cerebral and into the real world try using “furniture”.
Okay, enough already! I’m ready to use “furniture”. What is it? “Furniture” is when a lyricist puts real world imagery in a song. Some examples of this would be the name of a city, a certain dress your lover wore, a brand name, type of car, anything that’s other than emotional and cerebral. Something that takes the listener out of your head and into the tangible world we live in.
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How many verses do I need to write? How about chorus? Does my song need a bridge? Does it need a pre-chorus? There are of course no easy answers to these questions. The fact of the matter is that there are no hard and fast rules. Some songs only consist of verses and include no chorus or bridge. Other songs have all three components.
One answer to this question is to listen to the song as it emerges from the creative process. Have you written a few verses? Does it seem too boring, either lyrically or melodically? It’s important to listen closely with that detached critical viewpoint mentioned previously and make some decisions.
Do you feel that now that you have a couple verses that the listener needs a ‘pay off’? Does the song need a hook? Do you need an effective place to convey the title of the song? If the answer to each of these questions is ‘No’, you may want to consider not having a chorus. The overwhelming majority of songs do have choruses, but many excellent songs don’t. There are no rules in songwriting.
How about the bridge? Do I need a bridge in my song? Well, as defined, a bridge brings a certain ‘relief to the listener’. After listening to your song with the detached attitude we talked about before, does it need one?
I was a speaker at a conference for a well established songwriting organization, and one of the participants said that she’d just left an evaluation session with a music publisher. The publisher had stated that every song needed a bridge. This is plainly not true and it’s bad advice to give to any writer. You should only write a bridge for a song when it’s absolutely necessary.
The bottom line in regards to so many things in songwriting, including decisions regarding Song Structure, is if it doesn’t need it then don’t do it.
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