guitar - keyboard - headphones

Chord Basics for Songwriters: The Most Important 5 Things to Know

Getting melodies and chords working well together is vital knowledge for any songwriter. “How to Harmonize a Melody” shows you, step by step, how that works, and gives you sound samples to follow. There’s nothing keeping you from using someone else’s chords in your own song, since chord progressions aren’t protected by copyright. Having said […]

Guitar and keyboard

Making Strange Chord Progressions Work a Little Better

The first piece of advice I always give to songwriters who are contemplating using a complex, strange chord progression in their songs is this: Make sure the progression actually works, and isn’t just needlessly convoluted. The best chord progressions — even complex ones — are the ones that stay out of the way and support […]

Bob Marley

Solidifying Chorus Rhythms to Help the Chorus Hook

Try this little experiment the next time you’re listening to music on the radio. Put your radio in an automatic scan mode, where it moves through the dial, stopping on radio stations as it finds them, and then plays 7 or 8 seconds before moving on. As it stops at each new station (and assuming […]

Classical guitar - songwriting

Chord Progression Suggestions for Song Refrains

A refrain is not a short chorus. It’s better thought of as the end of a long verse. In that respect, since most song refrains will end on the tonic chord (the I-chord of your chosen key), the best chord progressions for a refrain will be ones that drive strongly toward that tonic chord by […]

Pumped Up Audience

Building an Audience For Complex, Innovative Songs

If you like writing songs that are on the cutting edge — innovative, creative and complex — you already know that there’s a problem to solve: building an audience for your music. It can sometimes help to look at other singer-songwriters and bands that have solved this issue. For most, though, the solution was to […]

Chilliwack

An Appreciation of “Chilliwack”

I’ve always been a fan of the Canadian rock band “Chilliwack“, which had several hit songs on the charts starting in the early 70s. They went through several stylistic changes, starting in a kind of progressive-influence rock, then settling into a straight ahead rock style by the mid-seventies. Trying to get a handle on writing […]