Guitar, headphones and music

5 Random Musical Tips for Songwriters

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After a period of time answering emails, doing video tutoring, and just generally talking to others generally about music and specifically songwriting, I find that I repeat certain tips, ideas and adages quite a bit. There are things that seem to keep coming up over and over, things that serve as good tips for all of us to keep in mind as we write music.

Sometimes it’s worth the time to write these things down, just to consider them as a kind of list of tips. Some may be ideas you’ve never really considered before, and others may already be your own favourite thoughts on songwriting. Here are five of them that I’ve been thinking a lot about lately:

  1. If you want a section of your song to sound loud, work in some quiet sections near it.
  2. You can change how an audience hears a melody by changing the chords that happen under it.
  3. The shorter the song, the more important the hook becomes.
  4. The quicker you change chords, the more frantic the music becomes. (That can be good; that can be bad.)
  5. Audiences connect more to the way you say something than to an actual topic.

Those are five musical adages that I think are valuable for writers of music, no matter what genre you compose in.

What do you think? Do you have something that amounts to a short, concise tip that could be added to this list? Please share your own tip(s) or ideas to the comments below.

Gary EwerWritten by Gary Ewer. Follow Gary on Twitter.

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One Comment

  1. You have a very limited number of words in popular song formats, so whenever possible, make sure that your lyrics don’t just inform, but that they resonate. What do I mean by that? A perfect example is the opening line of Dierks Bentley’s “What Was I Thinking”: “Becky was a beauty from South Alabama, her daddy had a heart like a nine pound hammer.” Ruttan/Beavers/Bentley could have just written something like “her daddy was a tough, protective father,” but “her daddy had a heart like a nine pound hammer” tells you so much more. The first time I heard it, I immediately knew what her daddy smelled like (old engine oil), I knew what his hands looked like (calloused, with thick fingers and dirt under the finger nails that he could never seem to scrub clean) and I knew that if the boyfriend in the song punched him in the stomach, thinking that ample gut was a soft, easy target, he’d hit steel underneath. That’s resonance!

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