Townes Van Zandt

Major with a Minor Flavour: Townes Van Zandt’s “Pancho and Lefty”

Townes Van Zandt was a highly respected singer-songwriter whose songs were covered by some of the world’s biggest names — Willie Nelson, Emmy Lou Harris, Merle Haggard and others. There’s a quiet kind of contemplative sound to his music and draws the audience in; they make you listen. Van Zandt’s most well-known song is “Pancho […]

Guitarist - songwriter on stage

Getting People Listening — and Keeping Them Listening

When you talk about form as it applies to a song, part of what you’re talking about is how one section differs from another. In fact, you could argue that the sections that comprise your song, and how they differ, are the most important aspects of form. In my experience, most songwriters’ eyes glaze over […]

Bob Dylan - 1962

Several Ways to Create High Points In Your Songs

With most songs, you become aware that there is a moment where the greatest musical excitement happens. Typically it’s somewhere during the chorus, if the song uses one. If it’s a verse-refrain song, that climactic moment typically happens right at (or near) the start of the refrain, like “The Times They Are A-Changin’.” If your […]

Writing word lists for song lyrics

Creating Word Lists: It Can Give You More Than Lyric Ideas

If you find that writing lyrics takes you a long time, creating word lists can be a big help. By building lists of words, you’re creating a vocabulary that speeds up the process of trying to find the right words: they’re probably all there in front of you, somewhere in your list. Word lists can […]

Guitar and Piano - Creating a Melody and Bass Line

Five Quick Chord Progression Tips

One thing that brings a smile to my face is thinking about the fact that chord progressions work pretty much the same way today (in a pop song) as they did more than 300 years ago (in a Bach aria). If you’ve written a melody and you want to explore the many ways there are […]