Guitar

Making Use of Musical Momentum

If you’re familiar with Maurice Ravel’s “Bolero”, you will know that it is comprised of a 32-bar long melody in two 16-bar parts which repeats, over and over again, with the only change being the orchestration of the melody. There is no other musical development. No change of key, no change of tempo, no competing […]

Song Form: Making a More Energetic Chorus

It’s not terribly surprising that most people can tell whether they’re hearing a chorus or a verse. That’s a good thing, because songs don’t come with signposts that say, “This is the verse…”; “This is the chorus.” What I find interesting is that even non-musicians can tell. Songs normally start with the verse, but with […]

Bruno Mars - Uptown Funk!

Songs Without a Focal Point Will Quickly Fail

If you’re a successful landscape artist or photographer, you know the vital importance of a focal point. That’s the feature that immediately draws the viewer’s eye and establishes the artwork’s main subject. Without a focal point, you’ve got a painting or photo that looks fine but keeps the viewer endlessly searching for purpose. Like staring at […]

U2

What a Good Melodic Shape Does For a Song

In music, a melody that exhibits a kind of “arch shape” is a natural one that really works. Sometimes that arch shape — where the melody starts low in pitch, rises in the middle, and then descends again, is really clear and obvious, like the melody for Johnny Cash’s “I Walk the Line”: And sometimes […]

Singer - Band Rehearsal

Here’s Why Your Song’s Pre-Chorus Isn’t Working

It’s easy to understand why a song uses verses and choruses. The chorus tells the listener the essence of the song. The verse explains the situation behind the emotions of the chorus. That part is usually pretty cut-&-dried. But there are other miscellaneous sections your songs might use. And a commonly-used section (also a commonly-misunderstood […]

Keyboard player - songwriter - chord inversions

Everything You Need to Know About “Slash Chords” (Inversions)

When you play through chord progressions for songs you know, you’ll occasionally come across ones that involve a slash: F/A, C/G, Dm7/F, etc. These kinds of chords are called inversions, known colloquially as “slash chords” because of that slash. As you probably know, the letter name before the slash is the actual chord that you should […]