Starting from the Bottom – Arrangements – Definitions
Everybody of us listens to it and enjoys the sound and the vibe a song can give us. No matter if we are out with the homeys or chillin with the girls, driving around in the city with the car or partying all night in a club. We love (Rap/HipHop) Music!
But some of us are not just consumers who loves to hear to Music. Some of us want to create those hot songs going all viral in the internet and getting played at the radiostations forth and back. So they ask themselves: How can I write a Rap Song? How is a Rap Song arranged?And for making a first step in this direction in a perspective view of an artist or producer, you need to know some basics of the structure of a (hit) song. For those of you, who don’t know what a “Bar” or a “Bridge” is, this article will give you basic information to get things started. I know there are a lot of people out there who are familiar with the right structure of a rap song, but it’s useful to remind yourself after some time about the basics.
So lets start from the bottom. The Terms and definitions.
Everything has a beginning. So does your song. The Intro is the beginning of your song. Often instruments playing without any drums, many rappers add adlibs at this part like a trademark to get recognized easily.
16 Bars / Verse – What is a Bar?
Ever heard the sentence “I need 16 bars” and you found yourself asking: “What?! A Bar? I just need one to get wasted!” Of course that person means he needs to write 16 bars of lyrics for his song. A Bar is a measure which contains in most (or all) rap Songs 4 beats. So counting “1, 2, 3, 4” in sync with a song is like counting 4 quarters of the bar. So counting from 1 to 4 is exactly one bar of the song. The usual length of a verse or a part is made out of 16 bars of lyrics.
The hook is a synonym for “Refrain” or “Chorus” and is the main part of the song, which repeats after the verses. It gives us the main mood of the song, it transports the main message a song contains, so the name fits perfectly to the feature a Refrain or a hook should have: Catch your listeners to it, get the listeners to bite your hook so they keep it in mind and don’t forget it so easily.
If you have a verse and a hook which are not fitting 100% like you want them to, a bridge is a link between the verse and the hook. The bridge is (mostly) only played once before the hook starts and it gives your listeners a feeling that something is about to change in the song. It can also be used as a variation to give your song a little turn-around so your listeners get pulled out of the main tune. You can listen to a bridge in Drakes “Hotline Bling” after the 3rd Hook, where he starts to rap “These Days all I do is wonder…” (Time 2:54)
Last but not least there is the outro. Every beginning has also an end, so does your song. In the Outro sometimes rapper let the beat fade out or make a hard cut of the song, depending on what they want to reach with that particular ending. It is up to you how you want your songs to end.
So now you know the terminology and the definitions of the basic parts of a song and I hope I was able to answer some questions you always had.
In the next article I will analyze 3 very popular rap songs and their arrangement to show you that it isn’t a big mystery how most of the songs are built.
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