R.E.M. Losing My Religion

Songs Without a Chorus, and How They Work

I’ve always liked R.E.M.’s “Losing My Religion,” but there’s something odd about it. Because most of its melodies and melodic fragments dwell on the 3 notes A-B-C, in the key of A minor, it sounds very much like a drone. Normally, that just doesn’t work all that well for a song; you normally want to hear […]

Computer - Music Studio

The Similarities Between a Building’s Structure and a Song’s Structure

What exactly is song structure, and how important is it to the success of a song? When we talk about structure with regard to, let’s say, a house you’re building, we can generate a good number of analogies, all of which, it could be argued, apply metaphorically to songwriting: A house has walls, beams and other […]

How Design Saves a Song and Pulls the Audience In

When you talk about the form or design of a song, most people understand that you’re likely talking about the overall structure of a song — the verse-chorus-other aspect. Non-musicians likely know that most songs will move from the intro to the verse to the chorus, and then they might know to expect to hear a pre-chorus or […]

Bruce Springsteen

Tips for Writing a Verse-Refrain-Bridge Song

Writing a song that’s mainly a set of verses, each one ending with a pay-off line, has a simplicity that really works well. The pay-off line– a refrain — often sneaks into the song at first, without it being obvious that it’s operating as a powerful closer that’s going to keep coming back. Bruce Springsteen’s “All That […]

Guitar, paper & pencil, smartphone

Dealing With “I Can’t Finish a Song” Syndrome

We tend to think that the only people with any measure of musical ability are the ones that have a special gift for it. And while being a good musician requires a bit more than a passing understanding of how music works, musicianship is something that comes with being human. It’s in our DNA. The kind […]