Genesis - 1978

Chord Progressions: The Journey Away, and the Journey Back Home

Chord progressions, at least the kind you find in the pop genres, aren’t usually overly complex. Even when they are a bit more creative than mainstream, they don’t tend to leave the tonic chord too far in the distance. The kind of progressions you find in a chorus are usually more simplistic in structure than […]

Guitar and music paper - Songwriting

Why Simplicity Works So Well In Songwriting

It’s something you hear a lot with regard to songwriting, but with other creative arts as well: Simplicity is a virtue. Don’t get me wrong – I love complexity in music, and I always have. But once in a while I’m reminded of how powerful a song can be when: melodic lines are clear chords […]

Connecting Melodic Ideas Between a Verse and Chorus

How much of a connection should a listener hear between the verse and chorus? In other words, except for tempo, key and general feel, can a verse melody set up a chorus well if it bears little to no similarity to that chorus melody? Take the classic hit “Witchy Woman” (Don Henley, Bernie Leadon). Compare […]

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 […]