John Mellencamp - Peaceful World

Two Simple Tricks to Make Your Song Stand Out From the Rest

Visit the Online Store for all your songwriting materials, including “The Essential Secrets of Songwriting” eBooks, plus the video-based “Easy Music Theory” course. Songwriters have a tricky relationship with predictability. A successful song is usually one that is innovative enough to stand out from all other songs, but similar enough to everything else (i.e., predictable enough) that […]

Song Form

Does a Song Need More Than Verses and a Chorus?

At a minimum, most songs these days will use a verse-chorus or verse-refrain structure. Songs might be constructed of verses and nothing else, such as Amanda McBroom’s “The Rose”, made most famous by Bette Midler. Many old 12-bar blues songs are basically a verse and nothing else, though many will use a repeating refrain to […]

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. […]