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 […]

Microphone - Writing a melody

Is the Chorus You Just Wrote Really a Verse?

Do you ever feel that your chorus has problems, but no matter what you do you can’t seem to get it to work? When that happens, the problem often seems to be that the chorus doesn’t sound like a chorus. You expect a certain kind of musical punch to come from a chorus, but figuring out […]

Sixpence None the Richer - Kiss Me

Where Should a Song’s Climactic Moment Occur?

Many songs have what could be called its “climactic moment”: a spot where musical energy seems to be at its peak. In many songs, it sits there at the beginning of the chorus (“Firework”), sometimes in the middle (“Let It Be”), and sometimes near the end. (“Wichita Lineman”). Sometimes finding that moment may not be obvious. […]