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 […]

Amanda McBroom

Controlling the Emotional Build of a Verse-Only Song

Some songs make use of a verse-only construction, and Bette Midler’s hit “The Rose” (written by Amanda McBroom) is a good example of this. There are other songs that are mainly verse-only, with a short one-line refrain, like Lennon & McCartney’s “I Want to Hold Your Hand.” Those two song formats, verse-only and verse-refrain, both have […]

Guitar - Songwriter

The Songwriting Process: Determining the Second Step

Everyone knows how important a good hook is, but that doesn’t guarantee you’ll write a good one. You need to read “Hooks and Riffs: How They Grab Attention, Make Songs Memorable, and Build Your Fan Base.” Everyone’s got their favourite way of starting songs, even if they try to change things up from one song […]