Eric Clapton

With Good Songwriting, Everything Progresses

Talk about progressions to musicians, and they automatically make the assumption that you’re talking about chords. Of course, that makes sense. The chords in a song aren’t just randomly selected; each chord within a sequence needs to make a kind of musical sense, and that’s in fact why we use the word progression. But in fact, […]

Singer - Songwriter

Singing Nonsense Syllables (i.e., Gibberish) to Get a Song Going

Sometimes you need to hear your own music before you know what your song is actually about. There’s something about the chords you choose, and then the melody that gets created above them, that implies a kind of musical meaning. But occasionally it’s hard to get going because you can feel the melody starting to flow, and […]

Justin Vernon - Bon Iver - 22, A Million

Turning Your Poems Into Song Lyrics

Have you ever had the experience of feeling that you write pretty good poetry, but every time you try to come up with a melody and chords that makes it sound like a good song lyric, it just doesn’t work? There are any number of reasons why that might be happening. Here are some possible ones: […]

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 […]

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 […]