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


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

Simple verse–chorus form


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


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



  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