Using Observation to Write Better Song Melodies

Melodies and lyrics are the two components of any song that must be unique. Song titles, chord progressions, rhythms… they can all have been heard before, and probably have. But melodies, if they share more than a few notes in a row with some other song, are said to have been plagiarized. Because every melody needs to […]

Guitarist songwriter

Using a Minor i-Chord In Your Songs’ Progressions

Most of the time when you switch a major chord to a minor chord, you’re using what’s called a modal mixture, or “borrowed chord.” The most common switch is the change from a major IV-chord to a minor iv, like this: I  vi  IV  iv  I  (C  Am  F  Fm  C) It adds a nice moody […]

R.E.M. Losing My Religion

Songs Without a Chorus, and How They Work

I’ve always liked R.E.M.’s “Losing My Religion,” but there’s something odd about it. Because most of its melodies and melodic fragments dwell on the 3 notes A-B-C, in the key of A minor, it sounds very much like a drone. Normally, that just doesn’t work all that well for a song; you normally want to hear […]

Piano and guitar - songwriting process

Why So Many Songwriters Start By Working Out Chords

The basic mood your songs convey is one of the most important aspects of songwriting. Before anyone figures out even what your song is about, they can pick up a mood pretty quickly. And the one element that often conveys mood quicker than any other is the chord progression. That, in a nutshell, is why so many songwriters […]

pharrell-williams

New Video: Why Hooks Are So Important To Pop Songs

It’s only taken me about a year and a half, but I finally have a new songwriting video up. “Why Hooks Are So Important To Pop Songs ” is an introductory view of song hooks – what they are, and their fundamental characteristics. The video actually serves as a good introduction to more in-depth look […]

How to Use Chord Inversions (“Slash Chords”) – Plus 6 Examples

Every chord has contains at least 3 notes: C uses C-E-G; Dm uses D-F-A; Em uses E-G-B, and so on. Some chords contain more than 3. For example, G7 has the 3 notes that make up the “triad” part: G-B-D, and then a 7th on top, making it a 4-note chord: G-B-D-F. The root of a chord is the note represented by […]