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Songwriting Tools

Dan McCollam

0:25:41 · Songwriting

In this session Dano explains the building blocks of a great song. Join us as we learn the purpose of a chorus, verse, and bridge as well as how to see lyrical repetition. 

Songwriting Tools

Dano McCollam

The building blocks of great songs:
1. Chorus
- the purpose of a chorus is to feature the song hook.

2. Verse
- the purpose is to deliver vital information, of content and of context
3. Bridge
- The purpose is to refresh your interest in the chorus - refresh the interest in the main idea of the song.
- The use of contrast refreshes the main idea.
- The bridge introduces change and musical contrast.
- The bridge is the same idea from a different perspective, think flipping a coin and looking at the underside.
- The bridge introduces lyrical contrast. Dano uses “Here I Am to Worship” as an example.

3 tools for building a great song around a great hook:

  1. Repetition

  2. Paired/split repetition - Example of a formula = R,R,C,C

  3. Our brains love repetition

  4. Dano uses “How Great Is Our God” and “Open the Eyes of My Heart, Lord” to illustrate.

  5. Alternating lines of repetition e.g. = R,C,R,C

  6. Dano uses “10,000 Reasons” to illustrate

The average number one song has 8 great lines and the rest is repetition

  • - Triple Repetition

  • - Not always lyrical, sometime melodic - e.g. Oceans

  • Anytime you don’t see lyrical repetition, you can guarantee it’s there melodically e.g. “Shout to the Lord”

  • - Every Line Repetition - e.g. “I Could Sing of Your Love Forever”

  • - First and Last Line Repetition - e.g. “Our God is an Awesome God”

- Don’t try to be different - you ruin your authenticity. Your authentic voice comes from your influences, plus your innovation. Sometimes trying to be profound or different can ruin your creativity.


    - Key word list e.g. “Our God” same key words repeated to focus the song lyrically.

    - It starts with a repeated word or phrase and then compliments it

    - Unique list - 3–4 unique ideas that are all serving the same focus. e.g. “One Thing Remains”, and “Oceans”

    - Contrast

    - Contrast for building Verse sections