Verse–chorus form

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Verse–chorus form is a musical form going back to the 1840s, in such songs as "Oh! Susanna", "The Daring Young Man on the Flying Trapeze", and many others.[1][2] It became passé in the early 1900s, with advent of the AABA (with verse) form in the Tin Pan Alley days.[3][4] It became commonly used in blues and rock and roll in the 1950s,[5] and predominant in rock music since the 1960s. In contrast to 32-bar form, which is focused on the refrain (contrasted and prepared by the B section), in verse–chorus form the chorus is highlighted (prepared and contrasted with the verse).[6]

The chorus often sharply contrasts the verse melodically, rhythmically, and harmonically, and assumes a higher level of dynamics and activity, often with added instrumentation. This is referred to as a "breakout chorus".[7] See: arrangement.

Contrasting verse–chorus form[edit]

Songs that use different music for the verse and chorus are in contrasting verse–chorus form. Examples include:

Simple verse–chorus form[edit]

Songs that use the same harmony (chords) for the verse and chorus, such as the twelve bar blues, though the melody is different and the lyrics feature different verses and a repeated chorus, are in simple verse–chorus form. Examples include:

Simple verse form[edit]

Songs which feature only a repeated verse are in simple verse form (verse–chorus form without the chorus). Examples include:

and with a contrasting bridge:

Both simple verse–chorus form and simple verse form are strophic forms.

See also[edit]


  1. ^ RMS 1 Census-Catalogue of Manuscript Sources of Polyphonic Music, 1400-1550, edited by Herbert Kellman and Charles Hamm in 5 Volumes. Vol. I A-J (Volume 1), American Institute of Musicology, Inc. (1 January 1979), ISBN 1595513116
  2. ^ Ralf von Appen; Markus Frei-Hauenschild. "Aaba, Refrain, Chorus, Bridge, Prechorus — Song Forms and Their Historical Development" (PDF). Retrieved 27 March 2021.
  3. ^ The Life and Death of Tin Pan Alley, David Ewen, Funk & Wagnalls; First Edition (1 January 1964) ASIN B000B8LYVU
  4. ^ "Tin Pan Alley | musical history | Britannica". Retrieved 27 March 2021.
  5. ^ Michael Campbell & James Brody (2007), Rock and Roll: An Introduction, page 117
  6. ^ Covach, John. "Form in Rock Music: A Primer", p.71, in Stein, Deborah (2005). Engaging Music: Essays in Music Analysis. New York: Oxford University Press. ISBN 0-19-517010-5.
  7. ^ Doll, Christopher. "Rockin' Out: Expressive Modulation in Verse–Chorus Form", Music Theory Online 17/3 (2011), § 2.
  8. ^ a b c d e f g h i j k l m n o Covach (2005), p.71–72