Justin Vernon - Bon Iver - 22, A Million

Turning Your Poems Into Song Lyrics

Have you ever had the experience of feeling that you write pretty good poetry, but every time you try to come up with a melody and chords that makes it sound like a good song lyric, it just doesn’t work? There are any number of reasons why that might be happening. Here are some possible ones: […]

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 […]

The Value of Switching From Songwriting to Playing

Back when I was a music student at university, composition was my major, so I was writing constantly. My main instrument was (and is) trumpet, and so I was also practicing when I could get the chance, and I was involved in many ensembles. It didn’t take me long to notice something interesting: When I ran […]

Songwriter - guitarist

What Inspiration Means to a Songwriter

There are commonly-used words in the music world that have several meanings, depending on who’s using the word, and the context in which the word is being used. For example, you’ll find that the word “hook” can mean a short, catchy bit of music, but it also might mean an entire chorus — depending on who’s talking, and on […]

Writing New Song Melodies Based On Old Ones

You’d be forgiven for thinking that all the good melodies have been taken. Since most songs are tonal (i.e., they exist in a key), that means that the majority of them are comprised of seven different pitches, all arranged in different ways. It makes you wonder, how many melodies can possibly be concocted by using seven pitches? Well, […]

Toni Morrison

Words and Music: Two Sides of the Same Coin

Over on the Quote Investigator website you can read interesting research of the adage, “Easy reading is damn hard writing.” It’s commonly ascribed to the 19th century American novelist Nathaniel Hawthorne, but it probably existed long before he said it. I love that quote, because it sums up, in my opinion, the problems we face when trying to write […]