Concert audience

Bach and Today’s Songwriters – Not So Far Apart

Tonight I have the thrill of conducting a performance of J.S. Bach’s “St. John Passion,” so I’ve had my head a little out of songwriting world while concentrating on preparing for that performance. I’ve mentioned Bach often on this blog in the past. And mostly because the way Bach composed is not that far off from […]

Writing lyrics

A New (Old?) Way of Writing Lyrics

I’m fond of pointing out the similarities between all the different genres of music, because it reminds me that no matter what style of music we call our own, we’re all trying to do the same thing: touch the emotional soul of the audience. For most musical genres, the main differences with songs lie in […]

Bob Dylan - 1962

How to Know Which Songs Are Good Ones to Study

For musicology students who delve mainly in the world of Classical music, history has a way of filtering out “bad” music, leaving them with what might otherwise be known as “the hits.” And there are lots of them to study. Ask those same students to list every Classical composer they know, and they’ll be able […]

The Wrecking Crew

Adding Non-Standard Instruments to Your Song Recordings

How much thought do you give to the instrumental accompaniment for your songs? The question may feel like a no-brainer; if you’re a guitarist, you’ll use guitar. If you’re a keyboardist, you’ll lean towards using keyboards. But simply deciding to use the instrument you’re most comfortable with may be missing great opportunities to create something interesting for […]

The Animals - House of the Rising Sun

Creating a New Song Melody: 4 Tricks

There are lots of tricks that composers have used over the centuries to create new melodies based on already-existing ones. Some ideas: Slowing a known melody down so much that it becomes unrecognizable as the original. Example: The first phrase of Mozart Piano No. 16 in C major served as the main melody for “Hey […]

Why Sticking to the 3-4 Minute Song Length Still Makes Sense

There’s an interesting history behind why pop songs tend to be 3-to-4 minutes in length, and it has to do with the nature of the medium: typically, a 10-inch record spinning 78 times per minute, as you would have had when rock & roll was in its infancy. That usually meant that it was not […]