Neil Young - Heart of Gold

Structuring the Melody in a Verse-Only Song: “Heart of Gold”

When it comes to a song’s melody, there’s a standard kind of “formula” that practically all songs in a verse-chorus format use: Verse: Start the melody relatively low in pitch, and move higher as it comes closer to the chorus. Chorus: Keep the chorus relatively high in pitch. If the end of the verse is […]

Microphone

Creating Momentum (Forward Motion) in a Song

Momentum is not easy to identify in music, but you know you’re experiencing it when you feel the need to keep listening. As you listen, you get an impression of a kind of musical tension — tension that needs to find a release. And as the listener, you need to wait long enough to hear […]

John Newman - Losing Sleep

The Most Common Melody Problem Songwriters Need to Know About

For most songs, a good melody is crucial because it gives the listener something to hum after they’ve heard it. There are all kinds of melodies — from the ones that use one phrase over and over again (“Free Fallin’” – Tom Petty), to the ones that move up and down and encompass much of […]

Guitarist - songwriter on stage

Getting People Listening — and Keeping Them Listening

When you talk about form as it applies to a song, part of what you’re talking about is how one section differs from another. In fact, you could argue that the sections that comprise your song, and how they differ, are the most important aspects of form. In my experience, most songwriters’ eyes glaze over […]

George Harrison

Solutions For the Two Main Reasons Why a Song Might Fail to Impress

In reality, there’s many possible reasons why a song that started with a lot of promise winds up being one where the audience has a ho-hum reaction. But if you’re looking for a likely culprit, here are two of the most common reasons for a song that misses the mark: The hook isn’t doing its […]

guitarist - songwriter

Using Chord Progression Sleight-of-Hand In a Song’s Bridge

This is a bit of an addition to yesterday’s post, in which I gave some thoughts on the melody and lyrics of Bruce Springsteen’s “Hungry Heart“. There’s one other aspect of this song that deserves a quick mention: the key change at the song’s instrumental bridge (at 1’38”). The song is in C# major. We […]