What Is a Verse in a Song?

Posted on October 27, 2022

The verse is probably the most underrated part of a song. Most listeners remember the catchy chorus or an impressive solo of a song even though most songs would be nothing without their verses. But what exactly is the verse of a song, and what is its function?

What is a song verse?

In Western popular music, more or less all songs have a verse. In fact, they have multiple verses as the verse is repeated more than once throughout the song. In the song structure, a verse usually takes place between the song’s choruses and contains more variation in its lyrics than the chorus. This is why the verse is an important part in the way a song tells a story through its lyrics. Much like a chorus, the verse often uses very similar instrumentation between repetitions.

How many verses a song has varies and depends a lot on the style of music and genre. As one of the main functions of a song verse is to tell a story, there might be more verses in case the song’s narrative needs more time to be told. However, most often a song has either two or three verses.

What is the purpose of a song verse?

The song’s verse is the place where the lyricist gets to show off their skills. The main purpose of a song’s verse is usually to tell a story and advance the song’s narrative. This is why the instrumentation of a verse may be less catchy and more toned down when compared to other sections. To give space for the song’s lyrics, verses tend to use the song’s basic chord progression and don’t do anything too flashy to distract from the storytelling. A verse can also be written in a way that contrasts with the song’s chorus.

Because of the emphasis on lyrics in a verse, there tends to be an even number of lines in a verse. This allows the lyricist to write lyrics that rhyme. The verse often builds up to the song’s chorus and can be followed by the so-called pre-chorus. This optional part of the song structure is usually shorter than the verse and the chorus. It is used to build up toward the chorus and prepare the listener for the next section.

What is the difference between a verse and a chorus?

Here are some differences and similarities between a song’s chorus and verse.

  • Both the verse and chorus are repeated throughout the song.
  • Both parts of the song have very similar instrumentation between repetitions.
  • Whereas the verse in a song most often varies its lyrics between each repetition, the lyrics of a chorus stay the same.
  • The song verse is used for storytelling and driving the song’s narrative. Rather than tell a story, the chorus repeats the song’s main themes and message.
  • In the grand scheme of things, the chorus is the high point in the basic song structure, whereas the verse is often more basic and less memorable.

What is the verse-chorus form of a song?

One common song structure in popular music is the so-called verse-chorus form. A song built around the verse-chorus form centers on the repetition of the song’s verse and chorus. Most pop and rock songs follow some kind of variation of the verse-chorus form. For example, if the song has a bridge section with two verses, it follows the ABABCB form. Other variations on the verse-chorus form include the so-called ABAB and AABA forms.

Learn more about song structure

Improve your songwriting skills and learn more about the basic song structure and different parts of a song. Check out our entire article on song structure with examples of building a song, such as the verse-chorus form, and some tips for aspiring songwriters.

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