Metronome

The Psychology of Song Tempo

I’ve always been interested in the tempo of music, and what effect that has on how we “hear” a song. We can measure tempo precisely, usually in bpm (beats per minute), but performers will often slightly alter tempo from one live performance to the next, which might indicate that the need for tempo precision is […]

Christmas Candles and Choir

Writing a Christmas Tune That Everyone Will Enjoy

If you’ve been planning to write a Christmas tune, you should be working on it now — Christmas is less than a month from now. In a way, there’s not really a lot of difference between a good holiday song and the ones you’d normally write. But if you’re looking to write something that everyone, […]

Microphone

Pulling Different Melodic Ideas Together To Finish a Song

If you look at your most recent song’s verse and compare it to the chorus, you’ll usually notice: There is likely a similarity in the kinds of chords you’ve used in both sections. The lyrics are probably different, with verse lyrics setting up a scenario, and chorus lyrics expressing the emotions created by the verse. […]

Joni Mitchell

Understanding a Song’s Climactic Moment

Most songs have a “climactic moment”, usually in the chorus, but sometimes in other places, like a song’s bridge. In most cases, you can identify a climactic moment by finding the highest note. This has been a noticeable trait in music for centuries. You can go back to Handel’s oratorio “Messiah”, for example, and see […]

Ray Charles

Is There Anything Special About Songs That Get Covered By Others?

I was looking recently at a list of some of the world’s most covered songs, and saw a few surprises on it. Some of them were what we’ve come to expect on such lists: Paul McCartney’s “Yesterday”, Leonard Cohen’s “Hallelujah”, and Johnny Cash’s “I Walk the Line.” But I confess I didn’t know that Ray […]

Gerry Rafferty

“Planing” Chords to Create an Interesting Moment In Your Songs

Maybe I’m just not paying enough attention to today’s new music, but it seems to me that in the 70s and 80s, mainstream pop groups did a better job of using interesting chord progressions that added a lot to the overall effect of their music. As you likely know, I encourage especially newer songwriters to […]