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 […]

Songwriting with guitar

Songwriting, and the Inspiration That Develops as You Write

If you’ve read this blog for any time at all, you know that I believe that inspiration gets a lot of credit for starting the songwriting process, when in fact that kind of inspiration — the “ooh, that’s a good idea!” kind — is fleeting and rarely results in a solid songwriting process. There’s another kind of […]

The Beatles - {Kenny Lane - Strawberry Fields

Chart Battles and Songwriters’ Egos

In February, 1967, The Beatles, who had just released their double A-side “Strawberry Fields”and “Penny Lane,” were kept from the number 1 spot on Billboard by Englebert Humperdinck’s adult pop hit, “Release Me.” It’s funny to think that those songs were even vying for top spot in the same chart. That’s a little like discovering […]

Band rehearsal session

5 Tiny Adjustments That Can Save a Bad Song

A few posts back, I mentioned that in the creative arts (songwriting and other forms of composition, for example), good editing is more often about what you remove than what you add or change. In other words, the best fixes to bad music frequently happens when you remove stuff, not add stuff. If I’ve written something that’s 5 […]

Rhyming Lyrics: What’s Best in Today’s Songwriting?

There’s an obvious problem when it comes to writing lyrics that rhyme: the more diligent you are in creating a rhyme, the more limited your choice of words. The other side of that is this: creating a rhyming lyric that says exactly what you want to say can be quite a treasure. The strength of […]

Protest march

Is Music Just a Fancy Version of “Thoughts and Prayers”?

As a Canadian — and because this is a songwriting blog — I haven’t had a lot to say about American politics. And believe me, there’s a lot one can say. I align myself firmly with those who are deeply concerned about what is happening in the U.S. “Extreme vetting” is a dangerous doorway to the […]