The majority of songwriters would probably agree that the chorus and refrain are the most important parts of any song. This is because they are repeated throughout the song. The majority of people have a difficult time explaining the distinction between the two.
This is not hard to comprehend. A song’s refrain is typically used to emphasize a particular point in the narrative of the song, while the chorus is responsible for drawing the attention of the audience all by itself and highlighting the main idea of the entire composition in just a few lines.
But what exactly is meant by the term “chorus” in the context of a song, and how is it distinct from the “refrain”?
In the following section, we will explain everything you need to know about what a chorus is, its functions, and why it is one of the most important musical elements in any composition. We will also go on to explain the refrain, as well as the difference between the chorus and the refrain.
What Is A Chorus?
A song’s chorus is essentially the repeated piece that is typically the most memorable musical aspect that stays in the mind of an audience member after the song has ended.
The word “chorus” can refer to either the original, classical definition of the word that comes from Ancient Greece or it can refer to the portion of a musical work in which all of the performers sing or play a repeating instrument or vocal theme.
In modern music, not all choruses will feature numerous voices singing the same melody at the same time. However, in many cases, the chorus is sung by just one voice, at least in the case of the majority of pop songs. The modern definition of the chorus still emphasizes having a catchy and memorable melodic line that anyone could sing along to.
Writing a chorus, which is perhaps the most crucial part of a song, is difficult despite its apparent simplicity. The chorus of a song needs to be able, to sum up, the track’s overarching concept in a couple of lines while also showcasing a powerful rhythm and memorable melody.
What Is The Refrain?
The refrain is the French word “Refraindre,” which translates to “to repeat.”
A song’s refrain is a phrase or line or lines that may be repeated multiple times during the song. It is kind of like a tagline that sums up what your music is about, and in this context, it might stand-in for the chorus. In more contemporary usage, the refrain could come before the chorus in songs that have a more elaborate chorus.
Consider a phrase or phrase that you would like to repeat several times to your audience so that they can get a better grasp of the overall message of the song you are singing. This will help you create a strong refrain. It is a notion that drives home the argument that the entirety of your song is making.
Chorus Vs. Refrain: What’s The Difference?
Choruses and refrains are not interchangeable parts of a song, yet they are connected. The best method to comprehend the nature of the connection between the two is to keep in mind the following two significant aspects:
- Choruses and refrains are interchangeable, however, refrains are not necessarily choruses.
- When referring to the lyrics of your song, the term “refrain” is used, however when referring to the music of your song, the term “chorus” is used.
Although people frequently use the terms chorus and refrain interchangeably, these musical elements are not always the same thing.
The refrain is a more basic term that simply refers to a segment of lyrics that is repeated multiple times during the song. Although refrains are most commonly heard during the chorus of a song, they can also be interspersed throughout the verses of a song to provide a sense of continuity.
In contrast to refrains, which are defined solely by their repeated lyrical content, choruses take into account the melodic structure, chord progression, and beat of the music. A great number of songs have choruses and recurring refrains to make the music as memorable, catchy, and simple to sing along to as is humanly possible.
The refrain and the chorus are very comparable musical elements, but they are not the same. The length of a refrain is often one or two lines, making it significantly shorter than a chorus. Remember that the song’s title is almost often introduced in the chorus or refrain.
How Are Choruses Used In Music?
The Different Types of Choruses
It would be impossible to count all of the numerous forms of choruses. On the other hand, there are a few repeating structures that you will frequently encounter in different kinds of music.
Here are some examples of fantastic chorus kinds that can be found in popular music; you can draw inspiration from these examples to construct your choruses that will stick in your listeners’ heads.
The Title Phrase
Incorporating the phrase that serves as the title of the song into the chorus and making it the phrase that is repeated the most is one of the most successful chorus approaches.
By building up and then letting off steam during a chorus, musicians can add depth and interest to their compositions, making them easier to recall afterward.
The use of a “punchline” strategy, in which the meaning of the title phrase of the music is exposed through the chorus, verse, bridge, and other structural parts, only to be brought back into the hook, is one of the most effective ways to accomplish this goal.
There are a lot of songs that use this technique, but Taylor Swift is one of the singers who do it the best. You can find examples of this technique in a lot of songs.
The Beat Breakdown
There are times when a powerful chorus may do without any words at all! There is a significant amount of popular music that makes use of a chorus structure that, rather than utilizing a vocal melody, holds a tune through the use of instruments and samples.
The Repeated Phrase
It may be hard to believe, but all you need for an effective chorus are a few phrases that are repeated multiple times and an infectious tune. Because of this, it is possible for a song to more easily sync in the consciousness of a listener because the repetition of various song section types is uncanny.
How Are Refrains Used In Music?
Since music has the power to elicit memories, simple rhymes are frequently used as a tool to teach or assist children in retaining vital knowledge. Public service announcements and advertisements both provide examples of this phenomenon.
Due to the repeating nature of choruses and refrains, songwriting methods such as these are utilized to take this concept one step further (the word “refrain” in its most basic sense refers to a remark that is repeatedly repeated).
And while choruses and refrains are both used to make music and poetry more memorable, the simplicity of a refrain, in comparison to a chorus, is perhaps why it is such an effective tool for really driving home a central theme.
This is even though refrains are used far less in modern songwriting in comparison to the ABAB recurring structure of verse-chorus-verse.
In the same way that a dominant chord seeks resolution following the introduction of the inherent tension that it brings to a chord progression, refrains provide a song with an emotional center and a comfortable place to return to. Because of this, the refrain of a song will frequently also serve as the song’s title, such as in “Tangled Up in Blue” and “The Sound of Silence.”
Choruses serve this goal as well, but they also provide a greater contrast to the verse than the verse does because the underlying music changes, and the duration are longer (for example, 32 bars).