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How to write chord progressions a pro would love, Part 3: How long is the verse?

Normally the verse is either 8 or 12 bars. But really? It can be as long as you want. We’ll keep it simple, and stick to 8 bars for now.
Knowing how many bars you’re working with is crucial when you’re trying to figure out where to place the chords. Sometimes you can get something great by just sitting down and jamming it out. Other times it won’t work until you sit down and think about it.

Writing it down

Staff paper is good for this. You can get it for free all over the internet. Go to the address below and click on 8-stave paper for parts or lead sheets.


Plural for staff. A staff is the 5 horizontal lines that musical notes are placed on. You’ve seen it before in part 2. Here it is again.
music staff


If you write music for more than one person, each person needs sheet music to read from. That sheet music is called a part. A bass player’s part will be different than a piano player’s part.

Lead Sheet

A lead sheet is a copy of the song. It usually has the melody, lyrics, and the chords.
Sometimes everybody just gets a lead sheet. Sometimes everybody just gets the chords without the melody or the lyrics. And sometimes you just teach it to them. It’s a good idea to get into the habit of writing it down, though. At least the chords. It’s a simple skill to develop, and musicians really appreciiate it. They’ll be more likely to want to play your music if you give them something on paper.
Here’s what you do: Print a couple of sheets of staff paper from the above site. Now go to part 4.
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