A Simple Way to Create Minor-Sounding Verses

It’s a common characteristic of many songs in the pop genres: a minor-sounding verse that moves to a major-sounding chorus. You might think that means you need to create two completely different progressions. But let’s say that you’ve worked out a good chorus hook, and now you’re trying to create a verse that partners well […]

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 […]

Setting Up a Hook Properly Can Be as Important As the Hook Itself

A strong hook is only part of what makes a pop song successful. Your song might have a catchy hook, but if it generally avoids some of the more important principles of songwriting, that hook won’t save it. In fact, a good hook can be wasted on a song that has other obvious problems. All […]

Keyboardist songwriter

What To Do If You Can’t Finish a Song

How early in the songwriting process do you think about the formal design of your song? Do you ever think about verse-chorus design options of your song as soon as you create a good songwriting idea? As you’ll hopefully know, getting good songwriting ideas is not the same thing as being able to write a […]

Keyboard - Chord Progressions

A Simple Way to Create an Interesting Verse Progression

If you like the chords-first songwriting process, but lately you’re coming up dry when it comes to good chord ideas, try this: Create a short, simple, 3-chord progression in some major key: I-IV-V-I (example: C  F  G  C) Repeat that progression. Follow it with the relative minor equivalent of that: vi-ii-iii-vi (example: Am  Dm  Em […]

Ed Sheeran

The Proper Progression of Song Lyrics: A Checklist

Take a look at pop song lyrics, and you’ll see everything from straight-ahead, easy-to-follow, to something more abstract. The easy-to-follow lyrics might be something like “Thinking Out Loud” (Ed Sheeran, Amy Wadge, Julian Williams): When your legs don’t work like they used to before And I can’t sweep you off of your feet Will your […]