Working Backwards to Create Better Chord Progressions

Chord progressions offer an important sense of direction. It’s why they’re called progressions and not successions. And of course, most elements within a song come with a similarly important sense of direction. Melodies and lyrics typically work in a forward direction, but when performed backwards, they don’t usually work at all. “Chord Progression Formulas” shows you how […]

Phoebe Bridgers

What’s the Best Connection to Make Between a Verse and Chorus?

There are many songs that seem to show no particular relationship between the verse and the chorus, except for the fact that they both exist in the same song. Take a hit song like “Somebody That I Used to Know” (Gotye), and you’ll notice that the verse and chorus bear no obvious similarity. For the […]

Lorde - Liability

The Laser Focus of Good Song Lyrics

Good lyrics have a strong sense of focus — of purpose and direction. It might help to make that statement the opposite way: bad lyrics wander about without being overly clear about what’s even being said. To say that a song lyric has focus means that it points toward a specific topic and doesn’t stray needlessly. […]

Gently Rising Song Melodies Creates Musical Momentum

When a song melody moves upward, you hear an intensifying of musical energy. That’s because of the nature of the human voice. The higher we sing, the more tension we hear in the voice. You know that when you’re singing at the very top of your range that you hear that bit of strain. In […]

Writing Songs That Use Three Simple Melodies

I’ve recently returned to listening to an album that really impressed me when it was released in 2015: “Carrie & Lowell,” by American singer-songwriter Sufjan Stevens. I hope you take the time to give it a listen. What I love the most about it is its transparency of sound. With simple guitar and keyboard accompaniments, […]

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 […]