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How long should a verse be

How long should a chorus be

In our last blog post, we were talking about how long should a chorus be in terms of the number of bars, and the number of seconds. We were looking at several different songs to get the answer to that question, so we will take a look at the same songs in comparison.

How many bars in a verse

One of the ways to measure the length of a verse is by counting the bars. But as I mentioned in the previous post, this might be confusing, because there are different ways to notate music.

If you take a look at the following example, you will understand what I’m talking about:

how many bars in a chorus

If you play all the three lines, they will sound exactly the same, but the melody takes up two bars in the first line, one bar in the second line, and four bars in the third line.

But in music, we always talk about 8-bar periods or any multiply of 8. As we checked the structures of the songs last time, the conclusion was that usually, the verse is the same length as the chorus.

So if the chorus is 16 bars, then usually the verse is 16 bars too.

SONG TITLE VERSE CHORUS
Ed Sheeran – Shape Of You 16 bars 16 bars
Taylor Swift – Everything Has Changed 16 bars 16 bars
Pharrell Williams – Happy 16 bars 16 bars
Foo Fighters – The Pretender 1st verse 16 bars
(2nd verse 16 + 2 bars)
16 bars
Justin Bieber, Ed Sheeran – I Don’t Care 16 bars 16 bars
Red Hot Chili Peppers – Dark Necessities 16 bars 16 bars
Ariana Grande – Thank U Next 16 bars 16 bars
Lady Gaga – Shallow 8 bars 8 bars
Ellie Goulding – Burn 16 bars 8 bars
Adele – Hello 16 bars 16 bars

How many seconds a verse should be

Last time we measured the length of the choruses in terms of the number of seconds, which is another way to measure it. We had the conclusion that regardless that different songs have different tempos, the number of seconds is surprisingly similar in these songs.

The average length of a chorus is around 20 – 24 seconds, which means that if the verse is the same length (and obviously same tempo), then the average verse is also around 20 – 24 seconds long.

SONG TITLE TOTAL TIME VERSE TIME
Ed Sheeran – Shape Of You 4:23 20 seconds
Taylor Swift – Everything Has Changed 4:12 24 seconds
Pharrell Williams – Happy 4:00 24 seconds
Foo Fighters – The Pretender 4:30 23 seconds
Justin Bieber, Ed Sheeran – I Don’t Care 3:42 19 seconds
Red Hot Chili Peppers – Dark Necessities 5:03 21 seconds
Ariana Grande – Thank U Next 5:30 18 seconds
Lady Gaga – Shallow 3:36 20 seconds
Ellie Goulding – Burn 3:58 11 seconds
Adele – Hello 6:06 24 seconds

Conclusion

Since we already measured the length of the choruses last time, we already knew that the verses have usually the same length in terms of the number of bars, and in terms of the number of seconds. Usually, verses are 16 bars and about 20 – 24 seconds.

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About the Author

Producer, songwriter of the band Barrio Latino Hungría. Author of the Songwriting Essentials.