Maroon 5 - Sugar

Assessing Your Latest Song Hook: a Checklist

Hooks feature prominently in pop songs because they grab immediate attention. If it’s a chorus hook, it’s not going to be heard until you get to the chorus, but that should happen before the 1-minute mark in most mid-tempo or uptempo songs. Because songs in the pop genres are relatively short, a lot is riding […]

Wet - Kelly Zutrau, Joe Valle

Chord Progressions for Pentatonic Melodies

Back in June I did a post on creating melodies from chord progressions. One method I described was creating melodies based on a pentatonic scale, and I want  to explore that idea a little more in this post. The word pentatonic means “five notes.” If you sit at a keyboard and improvise melodies using only […]

The Fixation on Genre

In the Classical music realm, we tend to look to history as a way of categorizing music. The Baroque era, for instance, is generally identified as that period of time from about 1600 to 1750. We can clearly hear similarities between compositions written during that time: the way the writer uses the instruments, the approach […]

How Momentum in Songwriting Works

Musical momentum, in practical terms, determines how likely a listener is to keep on listening to your song. Momentum propels music forward. When you hear a verse, and it sounds like it is begging for the chorus, that’s musical momentum at work. You might also use the word energy, but the result is the same. Every […]

Piano - songwriter - theory

What’s Most Important: Theory or Practice?

In everything you do, there is the theoretical side and the practical side. Theory refers to the intellectual understanding of a topic – the studying. Practice refers to actually doing what you’re studying about. In the fine arts, including the performing and/or writing music, theory refers to the nuts and bolts of what makes music […]

Ben Folds

Shaping the Melody In a Verse-Without-Chorus Song

How do you create a melody that works well in verse-only songs? Are they structured differently from verse melodies that lead to choruses? The short answer to the second question is ‘yes’ — at least most of the time. Whether you look at classic rock examples of verse-chorus tunes (“The Night They Drove Old Dixie […]