Songwriting guitarist

Songwriting: Knowing the Principles Helps You to Avoid Random Success

Songwriting success is great. Random success isn’t, because it means a lack of consistency.

Lately I’ve been writing about the importance of songwriting principles. While a rule is something that must be followed, a principle does nothing more than guide the songwriter. Most of the time those principles exist because it’s the way we like to hear music.

When we say, for example, that a chord progression should use the tonic chord as an important target and musical anchor, that’s not strictly true. You can probably find examples of successful songs that don’t focus on the tonic chord at all.


Use Your Words! Developing a Lyrics-First Songwriting ProcessIf you’re trying to make your lyrics a much more important part of your songs, you need to read “Use Your Words! Developing a Lyrics-First Songwriting Process.” It’s part of “The Essential Secrets of Songwriting 10-eBook Bundle”, and right now, it’s FREE.


But we have enough songs that do place the tonic chord in a position of prominence that we can identify it as a kind of musical principle in most pop songwriting.

So knowing the principles allows songwriters to identify and learn from the successes of other songs. But it does more than that: knowing the principles helps you to avoid random success.

What do we mean by random success? If you work purely by instinct, and if you write enough songs, you’re eventually going to write something that sounds rather good. You might get a following based on that song, and you might even make a hit out of it.

But if you simply “stumbled upon” the song because you were experimenting and improvising, you’ve got a problem: you may not be sure why the song is working so well.

And because you don’t know the principles involved in making that (or any) song great, you are not very likely going to be able to follow that success up with another. Your success with that song will have been the result of good things randomly coming together.

To know the principles of good songwriting works as a kind of shortcut to success. In my eBook “The Essential Secrets of Songwriting” I’ve identified and explained eleven different principles, and depending how close you hold the proverbial magnifying glass, there are likely many more.

Any good songwriting process will use improvisation and experimentation as an important part of that process. But without a knowledge of the principles involved in songwriting, your success will be random and inconsistent.

You can guide your improvisational process by knowing what the principles of good songwriting are. Once you’ve created one good musical idea for your song, you’re more likely to know what the next musical idea — the one that partners with it — could sound like, and your potential success becomes much more likely.


Written by Gary Ewer. Follow Gary on Twitter.

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.
“The Essential Secrets of Songwriting” 10-eBook Bundle“The Essential Secrets of Songwriting 10-eBook Bundle” explains 11 important principles of songwriting, and does so in language that’s easy to understand, and easy to apply to your own songs. Get a FREE copy of “Use Your Words! Developing a Lyrics-First Songwriting Process” when you purchase the bundle!

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  1. Pingback: The Daily Muse – May 28th, 2020 | All About Songwriting

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