Songwriter - Pianist

Chords That Eventually Find the Tonic

In music, the tonic chord is the one that represents the key. So for a song in C major, C is the tonic. To use a metaphor, it’s home. Progressions may meander around seemingly aimlessly, but once you play the tonic chord, you sense relaxation: you’re home. Are you a chords-first songwriter? Are you getting […]

Guitar

Making Use of Musical Momentum

If you’re familiar with Maurice Ravel’s “Bolero”, you will know that it is comprised of a 32-bar long melody in two 16-bar parts which repeats, over and over again, with the only change being the orchestration of the melody. There is no other musical development. No change of key, no change of tempo, no competing […]

Piano and Guitar - creative chords

Simple Hacks For Better Chord Progressions

If you’re bored with your chord progressions, you’re likely to opt for throwing them out and creating ones that are more creative. The problem with that approach is that you can wind up with chords that just don’t work well together, all for the sake of finding something more interesting. If you’re serious about songwriting, […]

Songwriting Creativity is a Two-Step Process

I read a quote recently by Paul McCartney (I believe it might have been Philip Norman’s book “Paul McCartney: The Life”) in which he said that he didn’t know how to write songs, he only knew how to finish them. That quote shows great insight. I’ve made it a large part of my life to […]

Neil Young

Songwriting: Pivoting Between Major and Minor

When writing a song, it seems logical to assume that it will be either in a major or minor key, and you simply have to choose which one. But there is another option, which is to allow the song to start minor, switch quickly to major, then back to minor, and so on. You’d be […]

Keyboard Player - Songwriter

The Songwriter’s Golden Rule

Rules and songwriting don’t go together, in my opinion. I like to think in terms of guidelines and principles, because those don’t insist so strongly on being followed, at least not as much as rules do. And if we wrote everything to accommodate a rule, where would we find the possibility for creativity? People say that “rules are […]