In Listening To Songs – Parts 1 and 2, we listened for the HOOK connecting to the CHORUS. Today, we will listen for the PRE-CHORUS. PRE means BEFORE – BEFORE the CHORUS. Simple! Then why is it that many songwriters ask the question? Where does the PRE-CHORUS née PRE live? The PRE-CHORUS precedes the CHORUS. Because you can hear the CHORUS, you can assume that the PRE-CHORUS lives before it. PRE-CHORUS then CHORUS! What’s more important is…What is the function of a PRE-CHORUS? By knowing the purpose of a PRE-CHORUS, it will help you hear the PRE-CHORUS, and will guide you to writing them.
*A PRE is a separate section of the song that disconnects the VERSE from the CHORUS. This added section creates a sense of expectation for the CHORUS to arrive.
*This sense of expectation is achieved by giving the listener’s ear a harmonic change that differs and surprises from the harmony of the VERSE or CHORUS. The PRE’s sense of build is more natural then just jumping from the end of a VERSE to the CHORUS.
*A strong PRE is both musically and lyrically different from the VERSE and the CHORUS. When a PRE doesn’t lift, it is uninteresting/boring to listen to. A non-lifting PRE tends to float by. You don’t get the sense of lift into the CHORUS. A poorly written PRE can do a CHORUS much harm. A successful PRE allows the listener to feel the PRE-CHORUS/CHORUS/HOOK connected as one musical force.
*A PRE can be only a few lines. Example: John Lennon’s Imagine “Imagine all the people/Living life in peace”.
*Sometimes songwriters use a PRE as a BRIDGE, as well as a lift out of an instrumental section of a song.
Focused PRE-CHORUS listening is particularly fun to do while walking the aisles of your local drugstore. The in-house music is usually playing pop/rock-golden oldies and the like to entertain you as you’re deciding on a new bath gel. This is a perfect time for you to isolate the PRE-CHORUS and focus your listening skills.
The art of writing is rewriting and listening.