Pre-Chorus: Build-Up Towards a Song’s Chorus

Posted on October 28, 2022

One of the less well-known parts of the basic song structure is the pre-chorus. Although pre-choruses are rarely the highlight of the song and can sometimes be left out altogether, that doesn’t diminish their effectiveness in the hands of a skilled songwriter. But what is a pre-chorus? Is it really necessary in a song, and how do you recognize one? Let’s have a look.

What is a pre-chorus?

A pre-chorus is a short section that takes place — you guessed it — right before the chorus of a song. The purpose of a pre-chorus is to create a more seamless transition from the preceding section, most often the song’s verse, to the chorus. It also helps to create anticipation towards the chorus. For many, this is the highlight of the song.

The pre-chorus doesn’t usually use the same chord progression as the song’s verse and chorus. The pre-chorus lyrics can either be repeated in the next pre-chorus or change between repetitions. While joining together the verse and the chorus, the pre-chorus also lets the songwriter create a more distinct contrast between these two parts of the song.

There are some notable differences between a chorus and a verse, such as the way a chorus usually repeats the same lyrics each time, whereas the verse most often introduces completely new lyrics. The instrumentation of a verse is also more basic and held back when compared to the chorus where the song reaches its high point. By adding a pre-chorus between the verse and a chorus, there’s a more clear distinction between the two sections.

What is the difference between a pre-chorus and a bridge?

There is often confusion over the difference between a song’s pre-chorus and a bridge. This is understandable as both parts of the song structure have many similarities. Both the bridge and a pre-chorus are used to connect one part of the song to another. They are also optional parts of a song, and some songwriters decide not to use them.

You can think of the pre-chorus as a type of bridge as a pre-chorus can’t take place anywhere other than between the chorus and verse. In the verse-chorus song structure, the pre-chorus occurs between the verse and the chorus.

When to include a pre-chorus

There are times when a pre-chorus works especially well in the structure of the entire song.

  • The verse is too short. One such instance is when the verse is quite short and needs something extra before jumping into the song’s chorus. Without a pre-chorus, the actual chorus would feel too abrupt. Adding some space between the verse and the chorus with the help of a pre-chorus can solve this problem.
  • The verse and the chorus sound too similar. In case the melodies used in a song’s chorus and verse are too much alike, adding a pre-chorus between the two parts can help distinguish them. Without a pre-chorus, it may sound like there isn’t much of a change between the two parts.
  • The chorus needs a build-up to it. The chorus is often supposed to be the song’s high point with more energy than the verse. If the song’s verse is already full of energy, try adding a calmer pre-chorus to gradually build up to the explosive chorus. A pre-chorus is a great way to get the listener excited for the chorus that’s coming.

Learn more about song structure

Want to level up your songwriting skills? Read more about song structure, different parts of a song, and songwriting in our full guide on songwriting 101.

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