structure your lyrics

Give the listener structure to hold onto


  • The lines and melody of a section don’t seem to “catch” the ear
  • They feel disordered


Having an underlying structure to your lyrics give the listener a way to make sense of your lines.   

There are many common structures. Let’s assume we writing a verse and we’re using AABA form as an example. Our melody lines or lyrics will look like this: 

A: bom ba bom ba 

bom ba bom ba (exact repetition of previous line)

B: bom ba ba bom ba (a variation)

A: bom ba bom ba (exact repetition of first two lines)


Here’s an excerpt of the song You Gotta Be which was performed by Des’ree

In the following passage the syllables are 8th notes and the lyric starts on the down beat. Note the repeated pattern of syllables and how that changes across this section of the song. You can see that in the verse the writers are using an AAB structure.


A [7] Listen as your day unfolds
A [7] Challenge what the future holds
B [10] Try and keep your head up to the sky

A [7] Lovers, they may cause you tears
A [7] Go ahead release your fears
B [10] Stand up and be counted, Don’t be shamed to cry

Things to notice

  • The omitted “a” in line 6. Had they written “ashamed” there would have been one syllable too many and the structure would  have been disrupted.
  • Note that (sky and cry are stretched out to be two syllables sky-ey, cry-ey
Please note: these lyrics are the property of songwriters: Des’ree Weekes / Ashley Ingram
You Gotta Be lyrics © Sony/ATV Music Publishing LLC, Universal Music Publishing Group, Kobalt Music Publishing Ltd.

Now what?

Now you can structure your verses you can move on to meter and rhyme.

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