Songwriting: Working From the Title Gives Your Song a Point of Focus

It’s helpful to learn how some of the world’s biggest hit songwriters do what they do to create those songs. Barry, Robin and Maurice Gibb (The Bee Gees) wrote some of the world’s biggest pop song hits, for themselves and for others, from the late 60s into the 21st century. Do you know how to […]

When Songs Have Too Many Ideas

When you love a song, its main hook is usually its most important feature. In a sense, no matter what else goes on in a song, everything works toward the hook. While the quality of all features is vital, everything culminates in the hook. It’s like climbing a mountain. The mountain peak is the immediately identifiable feature. That […]

Singer-Songwriter

How to Know If Your Song Is “Good”

Go on almost any songwriting forum these days, or check out the Songwriting Reddit, and you’ll see that a large percentage of the interactions are people giving a link to their latest song, with a plea for the rest of us to “check it out” and tell them what we think of it. Having others […]

Leonard Cohen

Using Similar Rhythms Throughout a Melody Strengthens a Song

I’m often asked about motifs – how they work in typical songwriting, and if songwriters even need to be aware of them. Unlike a hook, which does its work in the foreground, a motif is a small building-block of music that works mainly in the background. That’s not to say we don’t typically hear motifs — […]

Rolling Stones - Satisfaction

Pop Music’s Hook, and What It Does

There’s a term that gets used a lot especially in the world of classical music composition: development. We often describe pieces of music as not just progressing, but as developing. When we use that term development, we’re talking about new ideas being built on earlier ideas within the same piece of music. When I was an instructor at Dalhousie University, I had […]