Ray Charles - What'd I Say

When Songs Take More Than 20 Minutes to Write

There’s an opinion amongst some songwriters that songs that don’t form themselves quickly, usually within minutes, are duds; that the more you have to work to get a song to sound right, the less likely it is that you’ve got a song worth keeping. It’s a surprisingly common view. Even Jay-Z, in his introductory paragraph to […]

Songwriting: Improving Your Odds

A typical audience member is better at saying why they like a song than why they don’t. When a listener doesn’t like a song, they don’t take the time to wonder why. They just don’t like it, and that’s all they know. They click to listen to something else, and they’ll do that until they find […]

Carpentry tools

Songwriting Lessons from the Unlikeliest Sources

I don’t know if you feel the same way, but sometimes I learn the best lessons regarding music by thinking of something completely unmusical. Metaphors speak loudly and meaningfully to me. I like building things out of wood. It’s something I love, even if I’m not doing it at a professional level. But with every […]

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 […]

Sixpence None the Richer - Kiss Me

Where Should a Song’s Climactic Moment Occur?

Many songs have what could be called its “climactic moment”: a spot where musical energy seems to be at its peak. In many songs, it sits there at the beginning of the chorus (“Firework”), sometimes in the middle (“Let It Be”), and sometimes near the end. (“Wichita Lineman”). Sometimes finding that moment may not be obvious. […]

The Dolls - A Lover's Concerto

7 Quick Tips for Adding Chords to a Melody

If you like to start your songwriting process by working out bits of melody first, one of your biggest challenges might be the adding of chords. How do you work out a chord progression that supports your melody? It’s a bit amazing, when you think about it, that melodies can be so different, but chord […]