Keyboardist songwriter

Don’t Over-Analyze Your Own Good Songs

Sometimes a song will work even though it seems to go against established norms for songwriting. We know, for example, that the vast majority of song choruses are higher in pitch than the verse that comes before it. So much so, in fact, that it amounts to a kind of principle of songwriting.

But there are excellent songs for which the chorus is pitched lower: “No Reply At All“, by Genesis, comes to mind.

“The Essential Secrets of Songwriting” 10-eBook Bundle“The Essential Secrets of Songwriting 10-eBook Bundle” comes with an excellent Study Guide that’s meant to get your songwriting moving in the right direction. Also comes with a FREE eBook, “Use Your Words! Developing a Lyrics-First Songwriting Process.”

So what do you do when you’re writing a song, and though you like what you’ve written, you can tell that you’ve “violated” some of the norms of good songwriting?

The answer is: nothing. Move on to your next song.

Song analysis can be great, particularly when it’s other songwriters’ songs. It’s the natural outgrowth that comes from basic musical curiosity. You find yourself analyzing great moments in other songs, mainly so that you can do something similar in your own.

But when it comes to analyzing your own songs, the best analysis you can do is to figure out why something you’ve written isn’t working. If your song is working, analyzing it usually only serves to make you second-guess yourself and the decisions you made when writing that song.

And that’s a waste of time.

As a songwriter, you should be spending time every day listening to other songwriters’ music, because that’s the best way to get great ideas. And if you’re a typically curious songwriter (and you should be!) you’ll find yourself constantly analyzing what it is you like about great songs.

With your own songs, you should let instincts be your guide, and then if and when the song you’re working on is causing you problems, that’s the time for analysis.

Analyzing a failing song is a great idea, because there’s usually a very fine line between a song that’s failing and a song that’s great.

If you’re not sure how to analyze your songs effectively, here’s a blog post that can help guide you. In that article you’ll find a link to download the free “Songwriter’s Checklist”, which will help you put the magnifying glass on what you’ve written.

But that checklist should only really be used on your bad songs. Don’t over-analyze your own good songs. Celebrate the fact that it sounds good, and get on with your next one. At some point in the future, you can take some time to figure out why it works so well, but over-analyzing it will simply slow you down.

Gary EwerWritten by Gary Ewer. Follow Gary on Twitter. Hooks & Riffs“Hooks and Riffs: How They Grab Attention, Make Songs Memorable, and Build Your Fan Base” shows you how a good hook can make the difference between songwriting success and failure. With great examples from pop music history.Written by Gary Ewer. Follow Gary on Twitter.

Writing a Song From a Chord ProgressionTo discover the most important secrets of the chords-first songwriting process, read “Writing a Song From a Chord Progression.” It’s part of “The Essential Secrets of Songwriting 10-eBook Bundle.” 

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