Use Slash Chords to Make Chord Progressions More Interesting

Simply put, inverting a triad (chord) means to put a note other than the root of a chord as your bottomost note. You might know them as “slash chords.” Used well, inversions can give direction to your chord changes, and make them sound like they’ve got a real purpose for being there. Here’s how it works: If you’re following a […]

Writer's Block – What To Do When Your Songwriting Ideas Dry Up

It’s a situation that hits every songwriter, no matter how good, no matter how experienced: writer’s block. You strum away on your guitar or try different chord combinations on the piano, to no avail. And it can leave you feeling that writing a song is about as far from fun as a visit to the dentist. […]

The One-Chord Song – Can It Work?

Can a song be written using just one chord? And why would you want to do such a thing? We like to think of chord progressions as something like a journey that a song takes. You start out with the tonic (key note) chord, wander on to some other chords, before wandering back again. So why […]

How to Shape a Melody So People Will Remember It

A melody needs to have shape and a recognizable contour, or your audience won’t remember it. Recently, someone played a song for me that they had recently composed. My problem was, as I was diagnosing it, I had to keep going back to the recording of it; I couldn’t for the life of me remember that […]

Which Should Come First – Chords or Melody?

It’s probably true that more songwriters come up with a chord progression, in whole or in part, before they come up with the melody that goes along with it. These “chords first” people would probably say that they find it hard or impossible to come up with a good melody unless they’re hearing the chords underneath. […]

Rihanna's "Disturbia" – Why It Works

One of the points that I make over and over again to songwriters is that you really need to listen to the music of successful songwriters if you want to be successful. It’s not enough to hide yourself musically from what’s going on the comercial music world if you want to be part of that […]