So ... what? - The Verse-Chorus pairing

There's a funny kind of relationship between a verse and a chorus, in my opinion.   The idea is that a verse leads to the chorus, or alternatively, to the hook line at the end of the verse, in an AABA song. So the verse doesn't really stand entirely on its own. Think,  the Zen of verses -- one hand clapping. You need the chorus, or the hook for verse to really make its full impact.  Which also makes verse one uniquely vulnerable, because you haven't heard anything about the chorus and the hook yet.

For every verse that follows the first use of the hook, you have that chorus in the back of your mind, which provides a little extra seasoning for the meaning of the verses. Before that?  Those initial lines carry a lot of extra weight and responsibility, because they have to hold your listener's ear and lead them to the chorus and the hook, to sweep them along, like an unexpectedly strong river current, as you move from "So..." to "What?" As in "So What?" Why should I care? What are you saying to me?

Sound of two hands clapping.  Or many hands ... if we're lucky.

Every verse in this little model carries the So. As in ...So?  (What happens next?)  So? (What are you gonna do?)  So? (Why should I care?)  And the chorus slams the meaning of the verse and song home.

So ... what? So ... (That's) What! ! Like that. Every time we work through a verse-chorus pairing, it's like pounding in a nail:  the meaning gets clearer, and the message sinks deeper.  By the time we reach the end of the song, we've said what needed saying, repeated what needed repeating, and shed fresh perspective (or provided a musical palate-cleanser) via a bridge.  Bang. Bang. Bang. So-what? So-what?. So-what?  

My theory? At the end of the day, everything in your song has to have a purpose. It serves the "So?" Or it serves ... What ?


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