Guitar, Pencil & Paper

Getting Ideas When a Line of Lyric is Missing

One bad line of lyric can make an entire verse or chorus sound lame. So what do you do when you’ve got a verse that you really like, except that there’s that one line that just seems to be elusive: you just can’t come up with anything. It might be that the line in question […]

Genesis - Wind & Wuthering

Downward-Moving Verse Melodies, and When They’re a Good Idea

When you look at a typical verse melody, it’s probably most common that you’ll notice that the typical direction is upward, particularly if you compare the first few notes to the final few before the chorus hits. It’s time well spent to look deeper, though, at how good verse melodies move, because where the voice […]

Songwriter-Guitarist

Helping an Audience Understand Your Weird Chord Progressions

Here’s a quick tip for you if you like complex chord progressions: keep the weirdness toward the middle of your progression, and make the beginning and ending of it tonally strong. Here’s what that means: Most songs in the pop genres are going to be in one key or another, and so if you want […]

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. […]