repeated lines in music or poetry

A refrain is a verse or group of verses that is repeated at intervals in a piece of music or poetry. In song, it is often called the chorus. The refrain is often very different to the verse in melody, rhythm and harmonics. It usually has a higher level of dynamics and activity, often with added instrumentation.

In music, a refrain has two parts: the lyrics of the song, and the melody. Sometimes refrains use slightly different words as they are repeated. Such lines are still able to be recognised as part of the refrain by the fact that it is always has the same tune or melody. The rhymes, if present, are also kept even if the words are sometimes different. In popular music, the chorus contrasts with the verse, which leads into it, while the bridge contrasts with and leads into both. Many popular songs from the middle of the 20th century consist only of a chorus.[1]

The word comes from Vulgar Latin word refringere, and later from Old French refraindre, both of which mean "to repeat".[2]

Related pagesEdit


  1. Benward & Saker (2003). Music: In Theory and Practice, Vol. 1 (7th ed.), p. 317. ISBN 978-0-07-294262-0.
  2. "refrain". The Free Dictionary. Farlex. Retrieved 12 October 2013.