What Makes Up a Song?

If you ask the average person what a song is, they’ll probably say it’s a combination of melody and lyrics. But a lot more goes into songs than that simple definition.

Whether you’re a beginner or a seasoned pro, if you want to be a great songwriter it’s important to understand the many different elements that go into making up a song. Whether it’s lyrics, beats, tempo, or arrangement — understanding what makes up a song can help you write your own music more effectively.


A song’s first part, the verse is usually a short musical spacer that sets the listener up for the chorus to come. It may be a few instrumental bars that build up the emotion of the next chorus or it could be an entire section of lyrics that tell a story and set up the climax of the song. The most popular song structure uses a verse/chorus format, which is easily recognisable in hits such as Adele’s Rolling In The Deep, Ed Sheeran’s Shape Of You, and the Weeknd’s Blinding Lights.


The biggest and most important part of a song, the chorus is the big payoff and climax of a track. It’s often the catchiest part of a song and the part that listeners will want to hear over and over again. It can also feature more elaborate lyrics than the verse and pre-chorus or it can be reduced to a simple repeated sentiment (think The Beatles’ Let It Be).