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 […]

The Animals - House of the Rising Sun

Creating a New Song Melody: 4 Tricks

There are lots of tricks that composers have used over the centuries to create new melodies based on already-existing ones. Some ideas: Slowing a known melody down so much that it becomes unrecognizable as the original. Example: The first phrase of Mozart Piano No. 16 in C major served as the main melody for “Hey […]

Songwriting - Piano and guitar

Make Improvisation a Smarter Part of Your Songwriting Process

Improvisation is an important part artistic creation. Who knows where those very first ideas come from — the ones that pop into your mind as you’re walking down the street or sitting on a bus. But almost everything that follows, at least for most songwriters, happens through improvisation. In that context, improvisation means using your […]

Creating a Hierarchy of Songwriting Elements: What’s Most Important?

For every song you ever hear, it’s possible to compile a short list of elements that go together that make the song. For most, that list will include lyrics, melody, chords, rhythm (groove), instrumentation, and so on. Because every song is a musical journey, and every journey must be to some degree unique, the priority a […]

8 Tips for Making Melodies and Lyrics Your Songs’ Best Features

Songs are vehicles that take a listener on a 3-4 minute journey. However interesting and captivating that journey is, that’s the measure of a song’s success. Since songs are partnerships of many different elements all working together — melodies, lyrics, chords, instrumentation/production, tempo, time signature and more — it can seem to be a daunting task […]

Songwriting and technology

3 Tips for Remembering a Melody You’ve Just Thought Up

When it comes to technology that helps us as musicians, we’re living in wonderful times. Using smartphone apps or the internet, we have instant access to tuners, metronomes, mixers and recorders. We’ve got software that can write out our musical scores, then print up the parts, all correctly transposed. We can work out lyrics with […]