Bass player

How a Bass Pedal Point Strengthens a Chord Progression

A bass pedal point refers to a situation where you keep the same note in the bass (or left hand of a keyboard instrument) regardless of the chords that are playing above it. Pedal point can make an otherwise boring progression sound much more interesting because when the bass stays the same it will clash […]

Pensive songwriter

And Now For Something Completely Different

If every song you write bears a striking resemblance to the ones that came before it, you’ll struggle to build on your fan base. That’s because your fans will think they’ve heard it all before, and start to lose the belief that you’ll come up with something different. It’s tricky, though. For most singer-songwriters, if […]

Derek and the Dominos

Using a Key Change as a Musical Surprise

In most songs, key changes happen for any one or more of the following reasons: It raises musical energy. The most typical example of this is the song that has a minor key verse, then switches to a major key chorus. That brightening of the key from minor to major increases musical momentum as it […]

Guitar - altered chords

For Making More Complex Chord Progressions, Start Simple

You may not think of many of the early Beatles songs as using complex or unusual chord progressions, but for their day, they were noticeably creative. Where so many other early- to mid-era rock and roll songs were barely straying beyond the basic I-IV-V-I kinds of progressions, The Beatles were throwing in modal mixtures, secondary […]

Songwriting analysis

Stuck in a Songwriting Rut? Here’s How to Break Some Bad Habits

Occasionally I write about the benefit that comes from analyzing your own songs. The biggest benefit that comes from self-analysis is that you get a clear picture of the kinds of things you like to write about; the words and phrases that seem to occur most in your lyric; the kinds of chords you typically […]