Peter Gabriel - Car

3 Big Tips For Making More Interesting Chord Progressions.

Every once in a while I take a look at the visitor stats for my blog, and especially take note of which pages — and in particular the topics — are the most popular. Typically it’s been articles about chords that get the most attention – usually 6 out of the 7 top posts. So […]

Working With Bits of Failed Songs to Create Winners

There are ways to make sure that the various sections of your song connect well together. Some of them are obvious – like keeping a consistent key throughout, or keeping the tempo the same, and so on. It’s possible (and relatively common) to have various sections in different keys, but the connection comes from the choice […]

Guitarist - Songwriter

6 Easy Steps For Melody-First Songwriting

When I write music, I like starting with melody first. But melody-first writing means also thinking about chords. That’s because the musical part of our brain is always assembling melody notes and coming up with chords. If you want to see how this works, click to listen to this melody: A simple enough melody. Play it […]

Songwriting - Songwriter - Formulas

Is a Songwriting Formula Really So Bad?

If you’re a mathematician or physicist, formulas play a large role in your professional life. Formulas in that context are simply a kind of equation, and without them you don’t really have a profession. Songwriters know the word formula very well. In a songwriting context, “formula” is a word that describes a process, or perhaps set […]

Microphone - Song melody

Writing a Song Melody That Uses an Arch Shape

In 1937 Carl Orff wrote “Carmina Burana,” a 25-movement song cycle/scenic cantata that became an instant audience favourite. My choir, Dalhousie Collegium Cantorum, is working on this piece in preparation for an early-April performance, and it’s a ton of fun. Even if you aren’t familiar with the entire work, you likely do know the epic first song, “O […]

Guitar, paper & pencil, smartphone

Dealing With “I Can’t Finish a Song” Syndrome

We tend to think that the only people with any measure of musical ability are the ones that have a special gift for it. And while being a good musician requires a bit more than a passing understanding of how music works, musicianship is something that comes with being human. It’s in our DNA. The kind […]