Songwriting Hack! “Short-Short-Long Verse”

by Clay Mills
Mar 18, 2024

Recognizing Patterns

Today, a friend of mine posted on Facebook, a song by Bruce Springsteen. It’s an old song called “My Hometown”, and it kind of struck me. I often encourage people, when they listen to melodies, to try to recognize patterns. I hadn’t heard this song in a long time, and the first thing that jumped out to me is that he used a really simple pattern for his verses. He would use short phrase, short phrase, long phrase; and you can see he does that over and over throughout the entire verse.

Basically he has two short half bar phrases, followed up with a phrase that can be stretched out to an entire bar and a half. This a technique is really cool, because if every phrase is the same length, it really starts to get old by the time you’re halfway through the song.

Modern Example

For a modern day country example, let’s look at “Mind Reader” by Dustin Lynch. If you listen to the verse, he does the same technique that Bruce Springsteen did – short, short, long – they’re totally different melodies and different lengths, but it still uses the same principle of short pattern, short pattern, long pattern.

Short-Short-Long Verse

So this week as you’re writing, I encourage you to try this, because every tool that you can add to your toolbox as a songwriter is going to give you more flexibility; so when you’re faced with writing a song, you’re more likely to find the right tool for the job, rather than just trying to do the same thing you always do.

Cheers. CM

Clay Mills

Clay Mills

Clay Mills is a 16-time ASCAP hit songwriter, producer, and performer. He is the co-founder of SongTown and has 2 Grammy nominations for “Beautiful Mess” by Diamond Rio and “Heaven Heartache” by Trisha Yearwood. Clay is also the co-author of Mastering Melody Writing and The Songwriter’s Guide To Mastering Co-writing.


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