Sad songs

How Emotion and Music Intersect

This is a bit of a pet peeve of mine, and so I’ll state this up front, and then give you some additional thoughts: Good music is not meant to express emotion; good music IS meant to create emotion. I want to tell you a bit more about this. To say that a good song […]

Joni Mitchell

With Good Lyrics, Subtlety Can Be Important

All the basic components of a song — especially the chords, melodies, lyrics — act as partners. Nothing happens in isolation. A good melody will sound even better if the chords support it. Lyrics sound better if the melody they’re delivered with matches the rhythm and basic contour of the words. Trying to get a […]

Bruce Springsteen - I'm On Fire

Allowing Listeners to Create a Story With Your Song

Just this morning I went to YouTube and listened to Springsteen’s “I’m On Fire.” Such a powerful song, and I don’t think I had ever seen the official video before, which includes a short dramatization of Springsteen as a car mechanic being asked to repair a car by a woman we never actually see, other […]

Guitar and Piano

Starting Chord Progressions Away From the Tonic Chord

In music, the tonic chord is the chord that represents the key of the song: C  Dm  Am  G  C In that progression, the key is C major, and C is the tonic chord. The psychology of music makes the tonic chord sound like “home” to us. Our brains relax when, after a long sequence […]

Synthesizer player - Songwriter

Creating Chord Progressions That Work in Practically Any Song

A good chord progression has a sense of direction. It doesn’t just wander about, one nice chord following another nice one. Once a progression starts, it’s usually the case that it targets a particular chord, making that one chord more “important”, so to speak, than the others. You see this targeting of that one important […]