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 […]

Bruno Mars - The Lazy Song

Making the Best Use of Motifs in Your Songwriting

For most songwriters, defining a hook is simple: it’s that catchy bit that makes up the main part of the chorus. It usually comes back over and over because that’s what choruses do — they reappear after every verse, and then again after the bridge. A hook is good if it has a melodic shape […]

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 […]