What is a Pre-Chorus?
There are debates within the songwriting community about what a pre-chorus is, so let’s clear that up before we begin:
The pre-chorus is the musical bit between the verse and chorus. This seems simple enough, but I’ve had many occasions in the studio where no one can agree on what or where it is. If you’re the songwriter, you have the ultimate say in what to call your song’s pieces. Just make sure that you label them like this:
Note the giant, all-caps markers throughout the song. This is so you can ask the singer to go to Verse 2 and she will find it immediately. This is also to clear up confusion amongst everyone in the studio. I’m not kidding, I’ve seen five people standing around talking about “the chorus” and three of us meant one thing and two of us meant something else. Time is money! Save yourself the hassle and just call it whatever you want it to be.
So, the goal of the pre-chorus is to tie the verse into the chorus, but also build into it emotionally. The melody is different from both, and should start to shift from the story to the main point.
Because this is my blog and I can do shameless self-promotions here, I’m going to use my song The Wind, the Clouds and the Sea as my example. Here are the lyrics:
Notice that both of my pre-choruses are different. They are the same melodically, so the listener knows they are gearing up for the chorus. If I didn’t have that pre-chorus in there, it would jump right into the chorus without a sensical connection.
If you want a pop music reference (from a song you’ve actually heard), look at “Side to Side” by Ariana Grande: “These friends keep talking way too much, say I should give you up, can’t hear them, no, cause I…” this is a pre-chorus. It has the same melody and words each time and signals a transition from verse to chorus.
So how do you write one? If you’re a lyricist only, use it as a logical or emotional connector. How does your listener get from the story you’ve told in the verses, to the main idea of the chorus? Think of it as a bridge (not a song bridge, but an actual bridge). Its purpose is to link the two and transition smoothly. Keep in mind you can change the words each time or keep them the same, and the melody will tell listeners what it is (you’ll definitely want to make sure your producer knows that it’s a pre-chorus in that case). Melodically, think of where you want the listener to end up (your chorus). Are you winding down or winding up? This depends on the emotion of the song.
Not all songs have a pre-chorus, and you can certainly write a song without one if you think the verses and chorus are connected enough already. If you’ve never written one before, try it out and see how you like it!
Shameless plug part deux: You can hear The Wind, the Clouds and the Sea on my website here: http://www.mellamusic.com/mella-store
If you need help with your pre-chorus or any other part of your song, feel free to contact us at Brain Stamp! www.brainstampmusic.com