Songwriting Tip #7 – Using Unconventional Song Forms
In songwriting, it’s common practice for most of us to adhere to common or popular song forms such ABAB or AABA. However, this doesn’t mean that these are the only song forms we should ever use. Through analysing Queen’s “We Will Rock You”, we’ll discuss how using unconventional song forms can lend to the uniqueness of a song.
This article is a summarised transcript of the final part of our video “How to Write a Killer Rock Anthem – 7 Secrets from Queen’s We Will Rock You’’. Click here to watch the video for more details, explanations and examples.
The Structure of “We Will Rock You”
In “We Will Rock You”, we hear three verses and three refrains back-to-back with each other. This is then rounded up with a soaring guitar solo at the very end of the song. Although other songs also feature this format, what makes this song really special is that the verses and refrains are acapella and drums all the way through.
This not only creates a sense of predictability, but also provides an unexpected twist for the listeners when the guitar solo comes in.
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The Guitar Solo
At the end of the song, Brian May plays a solo with some really heavy electric rock guitar and great single note playing. The part about this that’s really special, is the little rhythmic riff that he settles into.
Up until this point, the song mostly revolves around the E Minor chord. However, in the guitar solo, Brain May instead opts to focus on the A Major chord instead, thus providing a great change in mood to the song. The lick that he uses in the solo is essentially a country lick that he plays on the electric guitar up on the 14th fret with lots of distortion.
What we can take away from this, is that there’s often a lot of crossover between blues, country, folk, rock, R&B and soul. It’s important for us to know how to use our knowledge of these genres, and blend that into the songs we write. Although we might not necessarily play any of those genres, the skills we can pick up from them are still applicable, and can transfer over beautifully to the genre that we’re writing in.
Conclusion: Songwriting Tip #7 – Using Unconventional Song Forms
As aspiring songwriters, “We Will Rock You” teaches us a valuable lesson – it’s okay to embrace unconventional song structure. By stepping outside the norm, we can expand our creativity and create music that resonates deeply with audiences.
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