Songwriter - Pianist

Chords That Eventually Find the Tonic

In music, the tonic chord is the one that represents the key. So for a song in C major, C is the tonic. To use a metaphor, it’s home. Progressions may meander around seemingly aimlessly, but once you play the tonic chord, you sense relaxation: you’re home. Are you a chords-first songwriter? Are you getting […]

Guitar - songwriting talent

What Talents Do You Need To Be a Songwriter?

You might think that the answer to this question, “What talents do I need to be a songwriter?” would start with an examination of basic musical abilities: the ability to sing in tune, and of course to be creative. But I think the first step toward being a good songwriter is not a talent at […]

Singer - Songwriter

Creative Exhaustion

What we call writer’s block has many possible causes, but most of them related to fear, and in particular a fear of failure. But fear is not often the first step in a creative block. For many songwriters, it’s creative exhaustion. Chapter 5 of “The Essential Secrets of Songwriting” shows how melody and lyric need to work […]

Maroon 5

Smoothing Out the Connections Between Song Sections

In good songs, there is a sense of connection — or perhaps communication, in a way — between its various sections. You hear the chorus, and it sounds like the logical follower for what the verse offered. So how do we ensure that each section of a song feels connected to what came before it? […]

Songwriting with guitar

Song Lyrics: Having Two Favourite Processes

Do you find that you constantly get stuck at the lyric-stage of songwriting? When everything you write sounds wrong, it can leave you with practically no new direction to try. Compare that problem to a similar problem with writing melodies. If your melodies aren’t working, more improvisation should get you finally moving in the right […]

Sting - Every Breath You Take

After Verse and Chorus Chords, What To Do About the Bridge?

Most pop songs, and all the related genres such as folk, country, etc., use simple, strong chord progressions. In fact, when you go back and look at complex prog rock tunes from the early to mid-seventies, you might be surprised to see that chord choice is not nearly as adventurous as you might think. Complex […]