Songwriter - Guitarists

Learning From Songwriting Mistakes and Successes

Sometimes you’ll find that a song you’ve written will succeed even when it seems to violate some of the basic principles of good songwriting. It might be a melody that just lingers around one or two notes, when our instincts tell us that good melodies should have a nice up-and-down shape. Or it might be […]

The Who - My Generation

Your Song and Its Message

Songwriters like to talk about a song’s message — the backstory we pick up from the lyrics. There’s a common belief that the best songs are the ones that present a cogent, powerful (even if subtle) message. But message is a tricky concept, because in fact, history shows that the best songs — the ones, for […]

Ed Sheeran

The Proper Progression of Song Lyrics: A Checklist

Take a look at pop song lyrics, and you’ll see everything from straight-ahead, easy-to-follow, to something more abstract. The easy-to-follow lyrics might be something like “Thinking Out Loud” (Ed Sheeran, Amy Wadge, Julian Williams): When your legs don’t work like they used to before And I can’t sweep you off of your feet Will your […]

Songwriting - Objective Listening

Good Songwriting and Objective Listening

It’s a dangerous can of worms to open if you dare ask someone, “What is good music?” Most of the time, people misunderstand the question and think you’re really asking, “What are your favourite songs?”, or perhaps “What is your favourite style (genre) of music?” There is an important difference between “What is good music?” […]

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 […]