Musical Composition, Theory and Songwriting/key changes and song structure


Hi I was wondering if you can tell me when key changes most often occur in pop and rock music at the bridge,chorus,verse or some other part of the song? Also do you know any good books(beyond basic level)on key changes and song structure in pop and rock music or can you explain it abit? What I mean by song structure is where to put different parts of a song-intro,verse,chorus,bridge,solos,outro ect... how to build them up. Not necessarily what music to use (I already have my own music and just need to structure it more and get ideas on creating song structures). Thanks so much.  


Thanks for your question.  Key changes usually are most effective in three cases :

1 -- toward the end of a song to make the final repeated part different than the previous parts

2 -- At the bridge, to give it a distinct and different musical identity, then come back to the original key

3 -- In traditional style song where each repeated part (verse/refrain) modulates -- usually up a half step
(eaxample is "In the Year 2525" by Zager and Evans)

Song structure:

The most common are

1 -- ABABAB  (a = verse, b = chorus)
2 -- ABABCAB or ABABCB  (c = bridge)
3 -- AAA

other parts that can be used are an intro and/or outro (also called a tag)  and a climb or pre-chorus (1 -2 lines after the verse that lead into the chorus.

The chorus melody  should usally start on a note different than than the verse and the title of the song is usually the first or last line of the chorus (this is the hook), or if the structure is AAA, then the last line of thr section.


1 -- The craft of lyric writin by Sheila Davis
2 -- The Craft and Business of Songwriting by John Braheny
3 -- Songwriters Idea Book by Sheila davis

Also, if you go to my web site at and click 'Songwriters Tools', you'll have access to all my articles on songwriting.  there are a few dealing with structure, and also check the article on 'anatomy of a song'.

Good luck with your music,


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Bill Pere


Can answer questions on : Technical aspects of lyric and music compostion; How to give and receive objective critique; Arranging and production; Concrete vs abstract imagery; Use of metaphor; Rhyme techniques; Song Structure; Collaboration; Songwriter Associations; Promotion; Guitar technique; Music Business;


Grammy-Award-winning songwriter; President of the Connecticut Songwriters Association and Director of the Connecticut Songwriting Academy; Named one of the Top 50 Innovators and Guiding Lights of the Music Industry in 2008 by Music Connection Magazine; Author of "Songcrafters' Coloring Book:The Essential Guide to Effective and Successful Songwriting." Named Independent Artist of the Year,by the 2003 national Independent Music Conference; 30 years as a professional singer-songwriter; 16 original CD's released;
Have had songs placed on other artists' CD's. Twice named Connecticut Songwriter of the Year.
20 years as Executive Director of the LUNCH Ensemble. Have attended more than 200 presentations by top industry professionals and have critiqued thousands of songs. Have written and produced dozens of stage plays and hundreds of concert events; Have coached hundreds of aspiring songwriters, and collaborated with several award winning writers. Have written commissioned songs as an Official Connecticut State Troubadour. Music Director of youth choirs and music camps.

Connecticut Songwriters Association (President); LUNCH Ensemble (Local United Network to Combat Hunger -- Exec, Director); CMEA (Connecticut Music Educators Association); Folk Alliance; Association For Psychological Type; Songsalive; WE R Indie; Creative Songwriting Academy;

Songcrafters' Coloring Book: The Essential Guide to Effective and Succesful Songwriting Songwriters Market (2001, 2002); Connecticut Songsmith; Contemporary Songwriter Magazine; Songwriters Musepaper;
Songcrafter's Coloring Book;   Strategies for Teaching Guitar;

Masters Degree Molecular Biology; Certified MBTI Practitioner (Myers Briggs Type Indicator); Connecticut Secondary Public School Teaching Certificate; Author: "Songcrafters' Coloring Book: The Essential Guide to Effective and Successful Songwriting"

Awards and Honors
2012 Grammy; Named one of the Top 50 Innovators and Guiding Lights of the Music Industry in 2008 by Music Connection Magazine; Independent Artist of the Year, (2003 national Indie Conference); Official Connecticut State Troubadour, appointed by CT Commission on the Arts, 1995 ; 1982 and 1992 CT Songwriter of the Year; 2000 Award for 20 years of Outstanding Service to Songwriters;
2002 CSA Award for Outstanding Contribution to Education through Music; Numerous awards for outstanding community outreach through music; 1997 Citation from Connecticut Legislature for exemplary dedication to community outreach through music. 1995 Renaissance Award for multiple music achievements in a single year.   Invited Presenter and Mentor at various Music Conventions

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