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Musician's Gig Journal | Song Structure Breakdown

Before we begin constructing our setlists, it's important to break down and figure out how to play another artist's song if we're covering it. There may be instances where clients make impromptu song requests, and we may only have the time in-between sets to work it out and play it if the stakes are high enough you need to learn it on the spot. While finding lyrics online is relatively easy and fit within a single browsing screen, quickly accessing the musical structure to follow along can be more challenging without the dreaded forever needing to scroll.

This book contains 14 sheets specifically designed for quickly figuring out and jotting down a song structure. Each sheet begins with the basics, such as the title and artist of the song, and prompts you to critique what you think makes that song unique and memorable, including its overall structure. The idea here is to identify early on what aspects of the song you may need to pay extra attention to. The second part of the sheet is dedicated to writing out the chords of each section and any other key notes.

Surprisingly, most of the songs I play with Faye aren't ones I know by heart, and this method is how I give the illusion of knowing these songs inside and out as I typically manage to have both the lyrics, song structures and chord progressions all displayed in a single screen. Here is an example:

By utilising these song structure breakdown sheets, you can quickly familiarise yourself with new songs and have a reference to follow during performances. It's a valuable tool for learning and performing cover songs effectively.

And once you've finalised your notes, you can then proceed with converting them into a more official reference sheet for playing live as shown below (with blurring to stay compliant with copyright laws).


Links to purchase the paperback directly from Amazon:


Update: A drummer friend recently came across a YouTube Drumeo video where awesome drummer Thomas Lang is tasked to learn Metallica’s Lux AEterna as fast as possible. And guess what, his process was near identical creating to this section of the Musician's Gig Journal, what he called his “cheat chart”. Check it out :-)

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