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I've been playing guitar off and on for years, and every once in a while I come up with some lyrics and chords that seem to be really great for a few verses. The problem is that I can never seem to write a good chorus. I just don't know where to begin.

I really want to finish a few of these songs, so, how should I go about creating a chorus that will resonate and work well with my verses?

A couple of notes:

  • I currently do acoustic guitar with a semi-fast country sound
  • The main song I am working on is E - B - A - F#m
  • I'd love to hear thoughts about this particular chord progression, but really would love to hear about the theory behind verse/chorus composition
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This question is rather broad right now. –  American Luke Nov 17 '12 at 21:11
    
@Luke Indeed, it is a bit broad, that's part of the problem. I don't really even know where to start. The comment below about the Roman Numeral Analysis is pretty much what I needed. Just something of a starting point :-) –  Topher Fangio Nov 18 '12 at 0:40

2 Answers 2

up vote 6 down vote accepted

If you do a Roman Numeral Analysis, it goes like I V IV ii. From a programmer's perspective, you just need to close the loop. Something that leads back to the beginning. The most obvious (to me) would be to do: V / V7 / . That gives you a V7->I. A strong turnaround.

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Thanks very much! The Roman Numeral Analysis is a great starting point (sadly, I've never heard of it). I really appreciate your thoughts and you taking the time to answer. –  Topher Fangio Nov 18 '12 at 0:39
    
+1 from me. That's interesting. I've never tried to theorize composition so much. Could be fun so I'm gonna try it. With a pinch of salt though because philosophically I think approaching music like this takes out the element of surprise and SOMETIMES feeling and intuition. But I haven't given it much thought to see if there are any holes in that theory :) If you find yourself stuck though it would definitely help you out. –  Panagiotis Palladinos Nov 19 '12 at 13:27

I would also agree that from a theory standpoint ending on the minor two is a bit weak. Ending on a five is an easy fix, but some other good options could be going I V IV I (country singers rarely mind ending and beginning on the I) or putting a six in. In the key of E that would be a C#minor chord, which would be stronger than your F# but not as strong as a five.

Many artists also use the vi (or minor 6 if you don't know roman numerals) as a starting point for a chorus because it can add a drastic change in mood if your verse is largely major. Specifically Conor Oberst uses this a lot. I think the key to a chorus is just to make it stand out from the verse, while still having the transition be somewhat fluid.

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