What is a Chorus in a Song? - Definition & Examples

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  • 0:03 Song Structures
  • 1:04 Chorus Lyrics
  • 2:12 Chorus Music
  • 3:47 Lesson Summary
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Lesson Transcript
Instructor: Christopher Muscato

Chris has a master's degree in history and teaches at the University of Northern Colorado.

Good songs follow certain structures and contain certain parts. One very important part of a song is the chorus. In this lesson, we'll talk about this aspect of song structure and see how it's used.

Song Structures

Imagine that you're listening to an online music channel or the radio, and you hear a new song. As you start to listen to the new song, you already have some expectations about its structure. Why? Well, the vast majority of popular songs adhere to a consistent structure that goes something like this: verse-chorus-verse-chorus-bridge-chorus. Each part of the song contains different bits of information, and by structuring songs along this pattern, listeners know what to expect. Which part of the song is the most important? What does the artist really want to you take away from it?

If you go back to the verse-chorus-verse-chorus-bridge-chorus structure, you'll notice that one word really stands out: the chorus. In a song composed of both music and lyrics, the chorus is not only the most repeated section but also the one where you can find the real meaning of a song. Through repetition and the use of catchy melodies, this section makes sure that you remember a song.

Chorus Lyrics

The chorus of a song is meant to be the most memorable part, containing the ultimate message of the piece. In order to do this, choruses generally rely on a series of techniques. The first has to do with the lyrics, the spoken or sung words. While the lyrics in verses convey the background information needed to understand the emotional or narrative structure of the song, the lyrics in the chorus provide listeners with the real message. For this reason, chorus lyrics tend to be simpler and more direct than the lyrics of verses.

To really drive home the point, the chorus lyrics tend to be based on a theme of repetition to ensure maximum retention. Frequently, the words of a chorus are identical after every single verse. This makes the chorus easy to memorize, and subsequently, easy to sing along with. Occasionally, however, parts of the lyrics will change between each chorus while maintaining the same overall structure. When done well, this can also make the chorus more memorable by drawing the listener's attention to the differences. Turn on the radio and listen to the first song that comes on - you'll probably be able to identify the chorus by the repetitive lyrics.

Chorus Music

Of course, if a chorus consisted of only repetitive lyrics, it wouldn't really be a song, it would be a poem. Songs are defined by music. Since the chorus is so important, we can expect the music to reinforce it. While the lyrics of a chorus are defined by repetition, the music of a chorus is defined by its uniqueness. Even without the lyrics, you could probably identify the chorus of a song simply by listening for changes in the patterns of chords used to construct it.

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