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Songwriting Workshop

Part Three: The Chorus

Find the heart of your song and its most powerful moment as you learn how to write a chorus that effectively expresses what you want to share.

Your First Assignment

Listen again to the choruses that Bridget and her friends sang with each other and answer the questions below.

“Lean On Me” by Bill Withers
“I Wanna Dance With Somebody” by Whitney Houston
“Good News” by Mac Miller
“The Climb Back” by J. Cole
“Guantanamera” by Compay Segundo
“Kote moun yo” by Bonga

  • Identify the power words and power phrases in the choruses that you heard.
  • What makes these choruses strong and impactful?
  • What do you like about the lyrics? The melody?
  • What impact do these choruses have on you? What do they make you feel?

Your Second Assignment

Search online for three new choruses that you like and that you feel are strong.

  • Identify the power words and power phrases in the choruses that you find.
  • What makes these choruses strong and impactful? What are they communicating?
  • What do you like about the lyrics? The melody?
  • After listening to so many different choruses, what do you want to remember as you create your own new chorus?

Your Third Assignment

  1. Meditate for one minute.
  2. Revisit the ideas you wrote down in your brainstorm. Organize the words in your brainstorm into categories: person, place, thing, OR thought, feeling, action.
  3. Identify a power word or a power phrase that best expresses the idea that is the “heart” of the song. The rest of the lyrics in the chorus should support the idea behind the power word / power phrase.
  4. Answer the following questions about the power word or power phrase that will help you create the lyrics:
    • What is your power word or power phrase?
    • Why is this the heart of your song?
    • What does this word or phrase mean?
    • How do you want it to affect someone when they sing along or listen to it?
    • How does the word or phrase make you feel?
    • What actions is it expressing?
    • Who are you talking about or talking to?
  5. Fill out the guiding chart with the power word or power phrase at the top and fill in the lines. There are a few different formats for the chorus—see which one works for you.
  6. Record yourself trying out different ways of singing it or speaking your chorus. If you don’t play an instrument, try writing your chorus to one of the tracks that Bridget created for you.
  7. Once you have written your chorus, reflect on the process of creating it.
    • How did the process feel?
    • Does your chorus support the purpose of the song?
    • How is your chorus similar or different to the choruses that you discovered and the choruses Bridget shared with you?

Guiding Chart: Writing Your Chorus

Fill in the lines for your chorus. Your chorus could be one word that repeats four times, or one line that repeats four times. You could create two, four, or eight lines. If you have more to say, go for it. This is a guide—follow it if it helps, but most importantly, follow your own creative intuition.

Power Word/Phase: _________________________________________________

Line 1: ____________________________________

Line 2: ____________________________________

Line 3: ____________________________________

Line 4: ____________________________________

Line 5: ____________________________________

Line 6: ____________________________________

Line 7: ____________________________________

Line 8: ____________________________________

Explore Other Parts of the Songwriting Workshop

Bridget plays piano.

Songwriting Workshop | Part One: History, Power, and the Purpose of Music

Discover the different origins and purposes of songwriting, and see how words, melody, and music can affect yourself and your community.

Bridget sits on a bench with her guitar and writes in her notebook.

Songwriting Workshop | Part Two: Inspiration

Try out several different approaches to brainstorming and generating song ideas as you look for inspiration within your life and environment.

Bridget outlines rhyme patterns in her song on a whiteboard.

Songwriting Workshop | Part Four: Writing the Verses

Experiment with different lyrical styles and poetic approaches to telling your story as you dig in to writing the verses for your original song.

Bridget sings and plays guitar.

Songwriting Workshop | Part Five: The Bridge and Completing Your Song

Learn about the purpose of a bridge and figure out if your song needs one before finishing up and reflecting on your journey.

Video Credits

Okai Fleurimont (Kote moun yo), Shyvonne Sanganoo (I Wanna Dance With Somebody), Ollie Corchado (Good News), Hasson Harris (The Climb), Juana C Aquerreta (Guantanamera). Director of Photography–John Miller.

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