Stevie Wonder

Songwriting 101: Hooking a Listener

While it’s most certainly true that a good song is a musical journey, it needs to be more than a mere journey if you hope that people will return to your song to listen again. For most songs in the pop genres which are typically under four minutes in length these days, the hook plays […]

Pet Shop Boys

Making Your Songs More Energetic

In my most recent blog post, I wrote about forward motion, also called momentum, and how tension and release is a vital way for increasing that momentum within a song. But what if the tension and release aspect of your song is working just fine, but you want the whole thing to sound a bit […]

Forward motion in music

The Forward Motion of Music

If you take a look at a photograph that’s been reversed, or look through your car’s rear view mirror, you’ll probably not see anything that looks weird, unless there’s a road sign or something else with words on it. Most of the time, you can look at things that are “backwards”, and they still make […]


The Problem With Practicing Your Songwriting

Everybody knows the old adage “Practice makes perfect.” On the face of it, that makes a lot of sense. I don’t know of any skill that doesn’t get better by practicing. There is a problem with practicing, though, and it applies particularly to songwriting and other activities for which we don’t usually have a teacher: […]

A lyrics-first process

Thinking Up a Great Song Title First

Starting the songwriting process by coming up with a title is a great way to stimulate your musical imagination. The best lyrics include imagery and metaphors, all in a bid to create feelings in the mind of the listener. And developing a process where the title comes first is an excellent way to do this. […]

The Beatles

Being Innovative in the Pop Music World

Innovation in pop songwriting is a tricky balancing act: you want your songs to be enough like other songs out there that you don’t scare your audience a way. But at the same time, you want your songs to move off into new and unpredictable directions, to excite your audience. Being successfully innovative is also […]