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 […]

Piano-playing songwriter

Changing Your Songwriting Approach

In order for an athlete to improve, something needs to change. A golfer who wants to improve needs to develop a different stance, or perhaps hold the club differently, or do some other thing in a different way. Athletes work all the time on that simple idea of change. If they aren’t changing something, their […]

Using Deceptive Cadences to Make Chord Progressions More Interesting

I mentioned cadences in my last post. A cadence is the end of a musical phrase — the end of a line of music or lyric. Sometimes that cadence sounds temporary, when the lyric sounds like the a pause in the middle of a sentence (at a comma), and sometimes much more final, like the […]

Singer - Songwriter

When Your Newest Song Sounds Like the One You Wrote Last Week

It’s tricky, writing music that pleases your target audience. They want every song to sound unique and fresh. But at the same time, they want to hear the kind of music that attracted them to you in the first place. So you try to write something that goes in a refreshingly new direction, and they give […]

Guitarist - songwriter

Writing Songs that Keep People Listening to the End

Good moments in music are good because they make us believe that even better moments are coming, and so we want to keep listening. The inverse of that is true as well: bad moments in music make us believe that nothing better is coming, and so we give up listening and click to hear something […]

8 Tips to Guide Your Search for Chord Substitutions

If you’re bored with the chord progression you’ve come up with for your latest song, you’ll naturally want to spend some time looking for chord substitutions that sound more interesting. But if you find that choosing new chords is a matter of random hunting, you can waste a lot of time. With a few tips, […]