Sting - Every Breath You Take

After Verse and Chorus Chords, What To Do About the Bridge?

Most pop songs, and all the related genres such as folk, country, etc., use simple, strong chord progressions. In fact, when you go back and look at complex prog rock tunes from the early to mid-seventies, you might be surprised to see that chord choice is not nearly as adventurous as you might think. Complex […]

Feist - How Come You Never Go There

The Tricky Nature of Pop Song Analysis

I’m a believer in song analysis as a way of improving songwriting technique. For any writer of music, basic curiosity should make us want to know why something sounds so good, so that we might be able to incorporate at least some of those ideas into our own music. (Or why something sounds so bad, so […]

Chord Progressions, and the Strong-Fragile Concept

Last week I received an email from a blog reader, with a question regarding chord progressions. It’s similar to one that I receive a lot, and so I thought perhaps I would post it here, along with my answer [slightly edited in spots for clarity], and hope that it might be helpful for those of […]

The Beatles

Songwriting: How to Avoid Moving In a Bad Direction

If you look at the description of Lennon & McCartney’s “I Saw Her Standing There” in the Rolling Stone’s 500 Greatest Songs of All Time list, you’ll read this: This song had been written by McCartney two years earlier. After penning the first line  – “She was just 17” – McCartney wanted to avoid completing […]

Songwriter

Choosing Chords to Make Your Lyrics More Powerful

It’s an important principle in good songwriting that all elements within any song should act as partners. We know, for example, that the mood of a song can be strongly affected by the tempo we choose, and also by production choices: instrumentation, performance style, and even the key. A lyric can be excellent, but if […]

Keyboard - Headphones

Solving Songwriting’s Most Common Problems

How you know that you’ve written a song that really works comes down to one main thing: its ability to make listeners want to hear it over and over again. When a song fails to do that, your job becomes one of analysis: how to figure out why a song just isn’t making the impact on […]