5 Ways to Prevent Your Songs From All Sounding the Same

If all your songs are sounding the same, it may not be a songwriting problem at all.


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Prepared Piano TechniqueYou should expect that when someone listens to several of your songs that they hear a similarity between them all. Every songwriter has their own particular writing style, and that predictable style will usually gain you more audience over the long term. It’s not usually a problem.

But too much similarity can bore listeners, especially if they feel that they can predict what your next song is going to sound like. The similarity, you should know, often comes from instrumentation and performance style. If you are always accompanying yourself with acoustic guitar, for example, the similar sound people are hearing from all your songs is likely due to the fact that you’re using the same instrumental accompaniment all the time. It may not necessarily be a songwriting issue.

But just so that you have all your bases covered, here’s a short list of ideas that will help give all your songs an innovative sound:

  1. Avoid writing consecutive songs that use the same tempo and/or key. If you notice that all five of your most recent songs seem to be slower-tempo songs in a certain key, you might be surprised to see that slow songs often work really well by doubling the tempo and exploring higher or lower keys.
  2. Explore new, innovative performance techniques. If you are a keyboardist, you may find that your fingers always move to those same chord voicings, with the same basic rhythms. Chording is only one way to play a piano, so explore new innovative techniques. It may surprise you to know that the piano has lots of possibilities, as you’ll see with this video. Though it’s easier to do weird effects on a grand piano than on an upright, it’s still possible to do with any piano.
  3. Change up the formal design of your songs. Don’t stay only with verse-chorus-bridge – think outside the box. Since the formal design of a song is meant to inject contrast, remember that there are lots of ways to do this. For example, try a song that simply repeats a verse or chorus, with a changing instrumentation throughout. Remember that unique formal ideas can themselves become predictable if they’re done more than once, so do something unique, then throw the idea out and go in a new direction.
  4. Vary the way you start a song. If all your songs start with you strumming chords, you’ve just increased the likelihood that they’ll all sound more-or-less the same. So while chords-first is a perfectly acceptable way to begin, don’t do it over and over. Try writing your next song by working out a melodic idea first. Or try setting up a rhythmic groove, or try writing the lyric first. The earlier on in the process you do something differently, the more likely it is that it will have its own unique sound.
  5. Create songwriting partnerships. By partnering with another songwriter, your music will take on a unique flavour that comes from the melding of two musical minds. If your strengths lie in words and poetic imagery, you may find that the resulting songs become very strong when you collaborate with someone who has a flare for melody or harmonies.

By working hard to ensure that all your songs go in a slightly different direction, you keep audiences interested and attentive. They’ll want to hear what you’ll come up with next, and that always translates to increasing your fan base.

-Gary Ewer (follow Gary on Twitter)

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