Foster the People

Identifying Your Song’s Climactic Moment

Most songs have a moment that can be identified as being its climactic moment. More often than not, it’s somewhere toward the end. Climactic moments are sometimes easy to identify: “Bridge Over Troubled Water” (Paul Simon): You can hear the song constantly building, and, like many songs, is really a series of climactic moments, each […]

Songwriter - guitarist

An Important Way That Chords-First Songwriting Can Let You Down

There is a lot to be said for the chords-first songwriting process, not the least of which is the fact that when you start vamping on a chord progression, a mood usually becomes quickly obvious. And once you’ve got the mood of the music, a topic will often be easier to settle on. And once […]

Singer-Songwriter

Making Verse Melodies Sound Better By Thinking Ahead to the Chorus

If one of your songwriting struggles is to get the verse and chorus melodies to sound like good musical partners, you may be surprised to find that the answer may not be to make them similar. Sometimes good verse-chorus partnerships happen when those two melodies have very different structural qualities. When it comes to making […]

Catfish and the Bottlemen

Pacing Your Chord Changes to Create Musical Energy

We use the term harmonic rhythm to describe the rate that chords change when compared to the number of melody notes. So let’s say you’ve written a song where the melody is primarily a stream of 8th notes. If you’re not sure what that means, think of the verse (and that prominent intro bass line) of […]

Shawn Mendes

Building a Sense of Anticipation in Your Melodies

Recently I wrote about the musical power that comes from starting progressions on a chord other than the tonic chord. By avoiding the tonic, the listener subconsciously wants to hear it, and so it creates a very powerful sense of musical energy: the listener is willing to wait to hear the tonic eventually happen. Songwriters […]

Music concert microphone

Imagining Song Melodies

Writing the chorus part of a song is usually a very different process than writing the verse part. With choruses, you’re usually coming up with a little package of music — some chords, a backing rhythm, a catchy melodic bit and then some lyrics. That musical package is what we call the chorus hook, and […]