Sam Smith - I'm Not the Only One

Creating a Verse and Chorus Over the Same Chord Progression

It sometimes amazes me how different a verse and chorus can be from each other. The classic example of this is probably Paul Simon’s “My Little Town“, which features a long meandering verse with a complex chord progression, syncopations and changing time signatures. The chorus changes character almost completely, offering a very short, catchy hook […]

Guitar, headphones and music

How Listening Makes You a Better Songwriter

As a songwriter, you do something that many people find difficult: you create new musical ideas and pull them all together into a final product called a song. You may be the kind of writer that finds it easy to do, so perhaps you’re writing a new song or two every week. But you might […]

Piano-playing songwriter

Using a Diminished-ii Chord in Major Key Songs

If your song is in a major key, you know that the ii-chord is going to be minor. So if your song is in the key of C major, the chord based on the note D will be Dm (D-F-A). And you’ll be using progressions that might be like the following: C  F  Dm  G […]

Bruce Springsteen

The Importance of Balancing Section Lengths Within a Song

You’ll hear experienced songwriters and producers say that the chorus of a song should arrive before the 1-minute mark. This is particularly true of songs with moderate to quicker tempos. Slower ballads can tolerate longer verses, and so it might take a bit longer. That guideline is in place because producers like to ensure that […]

Troye Sivan

Pop’s Immediate Appeal Doesn’t Necessarily Mean That It’s Shallow

If hooks seem elusive when you’re trying to write a song, give this ebook a read: “Hooks and Riffs: How They Grab Attention, Make Songs Memorable, and Build Your Fan Base.” Get it separately, or as part of “The Essential Secrets of Songwriting 10-eBook Bundle.” On CBC Radio 1 last week, host Tom Power interviewed […]

Song melodies

3 Tips For Generating Melodic Ideas

Some songwriters have a flair for coming up with just the right tune. Most of the time, the best melodies are good because they partner so well with the lyric, and of course with the chord progression. But even with those elements in place, it can still be hard to write a great tune. So […]