Guitarist - Songwriter

6 Easy Steps For Melody-First Songwriting

When I write music, I like starting with melody first. But melody-first writing means also thinking about chords. That’s because the musical part of our brain is always assembling melody notes and coming up with chords. If you want to see how this works, click to listen to this melody: A simple enough melody. Play it […]

Making Best Use of a “Fragile” Songwriting Idea

To describe a musical idea as “fragile” means that there is a certain measure of ambiguity. I like to use the term especially when describing chord progressions. A fragile progression is one in which any of the following are true: The chords do not strongly indicate the key. For example, moving back and forth from Am […]

Fleetwood Mac - Don't Stop

Song Melodies: Thinking About Your Starting Note

Because good songwriting usually starts with improvising ideas based on your instincts, you may not have given much thought to what note your tunes start on. The chord you choose, in most circumstances anyway, limits your choices to 3 notes: the root, the 3rd or the 5th. Understandably, there’s no rule that governs what the […]

Guitarist - songwriter on stage

Avoid These 5 Chord Progression Mistakes In Your Songwriting

Knowing why some chord progressions your’e coming up with sound good while others just don’t work at all is an entire area of study in music schools. For many of you, though, a good chord progression is something you can come up with by improvising and by borrowing ideas from other existing progressions. In this blog […]

Drake - Controlla

Deciding Where in a Song a Chord Progression Belongs

It’s quite possible to use a single chord progression in every section of your song, such as you might hear in “Controlla” (Drake et al). But if you do choose to use the same progression throughout a song without changing it, it’s the kind of progression that needs to sound tonally strong. A strong progression simply […]

What Do We Mean When We Say That a Chord Progression “Works”

I’ve written a fair bit about chord progressions lately, because it’s the most popular topic on my blog. When I take a look at the stats, it’s normal to see that 8 out of the 10 most popular posts deal with some aspect of chords. Recently I received an email from someone who asked me […]