What is a refrain in music?

When studying music, it is inevitable that you will have to go through a plethora of vocabulary and their definitions in order to comprehend even a small portion of a melody. And even though there are a few quite important factors at play during the composition of music, they can not be very straightforward to comprehend.

The "refrain," which essentially refers to the "repetition" of a specific line or stanza that appears in a song, is one such specific phrase.

Here, we've attempted to convey to you the precise meaning of a musical refrain.

What is a refrain in music?

Any section of a song where the lyrics are repeated is called a refrain. It is comparable to a chorus, but a refrain particularly refers to the lyrics rather than the music. The repetition of a single line or set of lines in poetry, generally at the conclusion of a sentence, is where the word "refrain" originated.

Difference between refrain and chorus

Not all refrains are choruses, but all choruses are refrains. As a result, a chorus is a particular form of refrain.

Difference between refrain and chorus

The difference is that a refrain makes a direct reference to the words, the lyrics. This indicates that a refrain is present as long as the same phrases are repeated. It wouldn't matter what tune (or musical notes) you used when singing those lines; they would still be considered a refrain.

Similar to a refrain, a chorus also repeats, but it also repeats the musical notes as well as the lyrics. Because of this slight distinction, choruses and refrains are sometimes confused. All the musical instruments in a chorus repeatedly play the same note throughout the song.

Refrains examples

Bob Dylan - Blowin’ In the Wind

“The answer my friend, Is blowin’ in the wind.
The answer is blowin’ in the wind.”

Blink 182 - What’s my age again?

“What’s my age again.
What’s my age again.”

Yellowcard - Ocean Avenue

“Sleeping all day staying up all night.
Staying up all night.”

“I can make believe that you’re here tonight.
That you’re here tonight.”

Why to use refrain, main use

Refrains serve a variety of purposes in musical composition. One of them is to raise the listener's emotions as they wait for a refrain to start. In music psychology, expectation has been demonstrated to be a crucial element of musical reaction.

Since repetition may be used to emphasize sentiments and concepts, it is one of the most crucial tools employed by music composers to communicate with listeners.

Suggestions for inventive refrain usage

- Use a refrain in a chorus where all but the final one or two lines are different from the rest of the chorus' lyrics (the refrain).
- When writing your next song, try to include a refrain that supports or counters the main topic.
- Use a refrain in a song that is repeated while using a different melody.
- Include a refrain that expands on the meaning of your song.


The refrain in music serves a variety of purposes, one of which is to raise the listener's expectations. Refrains are also important because they give a song or other piece of music rhythm.

We hope you enjoyed reading this post, and if you'd want more advice for advancing your musical career, please visit our blog area. There, you'll find a lot more helpful articles, tips, and suggestions.

There is no doubt that you are here because you enjoy music, so please take advantage of the opportunity to listen to it in CalypsoRoom while chatting with others via webcams.

Are you a music artist or label and do you want to give your music a further dimension? Do you own or co-own the master and publishing rights to your music? Consider to post it on CalypsoRoom listening to it together with your super fans, at the same time, connected by webcams.

Thanks for reading,
CalypsoRoom Team


Written by CalypsoRoom Editorial Team
The CalypsoRoom Editorial Team is a skilled and diverse group of writers, researchers, and industry specialists who have access to Calypso's data and information in order to give you broad knowledge about the music industry as well as helpful advice to help you manage your music and dancing career.

Updated January 2023

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