What is a Verse? - Definition & Examples

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  • 0:04 Definition of Verse
  • 0:33 Verse & Refrain Example
  • 1:34 Verse & Chorus Example
  • 2:35 Lesson Summary
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Lesson Transcript
Instructor: Stephanie Przybylek

Stephanie has taught studio art and art history classes to audiences of all ages. She holds a master's degree in Art History.

Do you have a favorite song? Have you ever thought about its lyrics? What part of the song tells the story? In this lesson, learn about song verses and explore some examples.

Definition of Verse

A verse is a series of lyrics that tell the main story of the song and keep the action or thoughts moving forward. Verses are an important part of a song. A song may have one verse or many. Whatever the number, they take the main idea and explore it in different ways. Usually verses are a similar length and have a meter or pulse. Take your favorite song and speak one or more of the verses. They move almost the same way even though the words are different. We all have favorite songs; for yours, can you sing all the verses?

Verse & Refrain Example

The simplest song structure uses only verses. Here's an example: 'When You Wish Upon A Star', which was written for Walt Disney's animated version of Pinocchio (1940). This favorite from the classic film features four simple two-line verses. The first is as follows: 'When you wish upon a star, makes no difference who you are; Anything your heart desires, will come to you.' That's it. Simple, concise, and heartfelt.

Other types of structures include songs that use a refrain at the end of each verse, a repeated line or phrase that emphasizes the main point. An example of this song type is 'What a Wonderful World' by Louis Armstrong. You've probably heard it in a movie or TV show. It begins with a verse that says: 'I see trees of green, red roses too, I see them bloom for me and you . . . ' After more description, the verse ends with the phrase, 'And I think to myself what a wonderful world.' The song goes on to celebrate clouds and sky, night and day, and other things we see around us. The verses emphasize the beauty and variety of life, and each ends with, 'And I think to myself what a wonderful world.'

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