Guitarist - songwriter

Musical Energy as a Songwriting Concept

Musical energy is a term that a lot of musicians use but find hard to define. You might use the word energy in a very nebulous sort of way, where it’s synonymous with intensity. With that usage of the word, most listeners of music would know what you mean if you said, “I really like the energy of this song.” They would […]

Guitar - Piano

Songwriting Round-Up: 5 Most Common Mistakes to Avoid

Every now and then I clean up my Inbox and give a quick re-read of the emails I’ve received from songwriters for the past while. Those emails serve as a reminder to me of what issues up-and-coming songwriters are dealing with, and the best way to solve them. Here’s a quick summary, in no particular order, […]

Guitarist - songwriter

5 Chord Progressions That Build Musical Momentum

In music, momentum is anything that builds energy. Every possible element within a song has the potential to affect momentum, and songs are good if all of those elements partner well. You can hear energy and momentum growing in a song in any number of ways, including: if the music becomes louder; if the music becomes faster; […]

Benjamin Francis Leftwich

Contouring Your Instrumentation to Create Energy Peaks

When we think about a song’s energy level, particularly as it pertains to the instrumental choices, we often think about how much energy we can generate by adding instruments into the mix. That’s a pretty instinctive approach, and it has worked in almost every genre, in any era. Eighties’ power ballads took this to extremes. […]

Concert audience

How Tension and Release Makes Audiences Want to Listen

What does the word energy mean in music, and what role does it play? There are several possible ways to use that word when discussing music, and songwriting in particular. Energy might involve any, or a combination of, the following: Loudness; we think of louder music as being more energetic. Tempo; energetic music is often faster. Instrumentation; in […]

Lady Antebellum

Why a Good Chorus Usually Surpasses a Good Verse in Importance

Most songs, if they are one of several possible verse-chorus formats, usually start with a verse, and before the 1-minute mark will move on to the chorus. The timing involved with this — i.e., the fact that we usually hear the chorus at or before the 1-minute mark, as you hear in a song like […]