Starting from Structure: Extending AB to ABC

Part Two: Extending AB to ABC


Click here to view Part 1: AB structure. 


Many recent pop songs are written using the ABC structure. It is slightly more complex than Bob Marley’s “Three Little Birds” structure (see part 1 for example), because a third section is added. 


Verse > Chorus > Verse > Chorus > Bridge > Chorus

  

 

In the ABC format, the additional section C, the bridge, is added in the latter part of the song. My favourite description of a bridge is “a strange new breeze blowing through the song.” The verse is typically wordy and carries the story. The chorus is catchier, has fewer lyrics, and generally is the most energetic part of the song. Finally, the bridge introduces a lyrically and musically new element that connects the various parts of the songs but gives a new perspective on the song. 

 

For example, “Don’t Stop Believin’” by Journey exemplifies a pretty classic ABC structure. The bridge starts with the lyrics "Strangers waiting / Up and down the boulevard", which introduces a new perspective and setting to the song's story. The bridge contrasts the rest of the song by changing the melody, lyrics, and chord progression before leading into the final chorus, which repeats the main hook with increasing intensity. 

 

Exploration within songwriting is a creative process. The AB constraints can be helpful, but don't let its structure prevent you from discovering a nuanced song that experiments with different moods, themes and styles. What Journey, along with millions of other artists and songwriters have harnessed from the ABC structure, is that you can turn a pretty simple song into something layered, elaborate and unpredictable. Happy writing!

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