When you consider the song structure you want to write your song in, you are really deciding on the architecture of the song. Just like a blueprint lays out the rooms in your home as they relate to each other, so does the song structure determine how the sections of your song are laid out. Rather than looking at the history of how the different structures and forms that songs take came into being, we are going to list and describe the ones that are most often used.
The Verse Form is the simplest of all the song structures. It is the most like poetry in that it simply expresses its message, Verse after Verse. This form is almost exclusively used in older Folk Music. Prevalent in the songs sung by Pete Seeger, Joan Baez, Peter, Paul, and Mary, and Gordon Lightfoot, among thousands, this is the storytellers form.
The Verse Form with Refrain is a Folk song with a hunger for a Chorus. Unfortunately, these wanna be choruses never develop into full-fledged choruses, but seem to function as a one line repetitive refrain at the end of each Verse. A perfect example of a Verse Form with Refrain is Bob Dylan’s Blowin’ in the Wind. The Verses tell the story and at the end of each Verse is the refrain, “the answer my friend, is blowin’ in the wind, the answer is blowin’ in the wind.” This is too short to be a Chorus, but it works like a Chorus to pull the listener’s ear through to the next Verse.