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 […]

Bridging the Gap Between Classical and Pop Songwriting

There are many differences between classical music and pop music. Some of those differences are easy to hear. For example, pop music often relies on rhythmic syncopations and obvious rhythmic grooves, while classical music tends to use syncopation sparingly, and not in a way that sets up a groove. You’ll also notice that pop music tends to […]

What Do You Love About a Good Melody?

Last week I wrote about the similarities between classical and pop music, and what today’s songwriters can learn from the classics. Today I want to look specifically at song melodies, and see to what extent the structure of a pop melody resembles that of a classical work. There is a book that is in great […]

Band rehearsal

Why Songs Usually Need a Powerful Moment

A hook – that short, catchy, memorable moment – is an important feature of many hit songs. Hooks don’t just show up in pop music; classical music also makes use of hooks. But classical composers are far less likely to discuss it or consider it a make-or-break element within their music. That’s because classical works are often […]

A Classical Listening List to Please the Musical Mind

Many of you know that one of the enjoyable things I get to do now and then is to take a symphony orchestra – specifically, Symphony Nova Scotia (SNS) – into schools, and play some exciting orchestral music for young people. In the main, our audiences are between ages 5 and 12, though occasionally we present our performances […]