Guitarist - Songwriter

When a Song Fails, It’s Usually For One of These Reasons

In the long run, it’s probably more important to know why a song fails than why a song succeeds. When a song is great, your most important job is to move on and get the next tune happening. But when a song fails, you could be doomed to repeat that failure — if it’s failing […]

Songwriter - lyrics

New Video: 5 Characteristics of Great Song Lyrics

I’ve just completed and uploaded a new video to my YouTube channel, called “5 Characteristics of Great Song Lyrics.” Please click here to watch. If you take a look at the songs that make it to the “best songs ever” kinds of lists, most of them are there because of the quality of their lyrics, at […]

Books and music

Those First Few Seconds

When I’m buying a real, “hold it in your hand” book from a bookstore, particularly if it’s fiction, I have a confession to make: I am highly influenced by two things: the cover design, and the first paragraph. I wonder if it makes me seem shallow, but so be it. I notice that I just […]

Calvin Harris

The Power of Patterns In the Writing of Song Melodies

You’ll sometimes see discussions amongst songwriters on the topic of how many notes a good melody should have. In other words, how much of a  range, when you compare the lowest notes to the highest ones, should there be when considering good melodies? History tells us that there’s no good answer to that question, because […]

Songwriter at piano

Breaking Away From Using the Same Old Chords

There is a kind of musical “muscle memory,” where we keep relying on the same musical ideas as we write our songs. Practically every songwriter is familiar with it: similar sounding melodies, the same (or almost the same) chord progressions, the same kinds of lyrics, and so on. A bit of similarity between songs you […]

Musical ideas

Good Songwriting, and the Demand for Uniqueness

I’ve had an approach to writing music that I’ve described on this blog before, which is that second ideas are often better than first ones. That shouldn’t be so surprising, since your second idea will usually take the first one as its model — whether consciously or subconsciously — and modify it. In most cases, that […]