Writing great song lyrics

Lyrics and the Natural Pulse

When lyrics sound like they’re not working, you’ll want to check out the up-and-down of the emotional content. Good lyrics start by being observational and narrative in nature, and then move to being responsive and emotional. And that holds true no matter what genre of music you call your own. Beyond that, the next most […]

Chord Progressions: Uniqueness is Not All That Necessary (Or Possible)

There are certain progressions — certain combinations of chords — you’re more likely to see in songs written by a 21st century pop songwriter than you might with a Classical musician. But check out these two progressions and try to figure out which one was used by Romantic era composer almost 150 years ago, and […]

Songwriter at piano

Breaking Away From Using the Same Old Chords

There is a kind of musical “muscle memory,” where we keep relying on the same musical ideas as we write our songs. Practically every songwriter is familiar with it: similar sounding melodies, the same (or almost the same) chord progressions, the same kinds of lyrics, and so on. A bit of similarity between songs you […]

Paul Simon

Creating an Emotional Response With Song Lyrics

It’s an observation about lyrics that I’ve become aware of only recently: I tend to think of good lyricists as people who either a) make me think, or b) make me feel. Sometimes both simultaneously, (like you might experience with a song like, say, “Crying Lightning” – Arctic Monkeys (Alex Turner) but often one or the other. […]

Songwriter-Guitarist tuning

When All Your Songs Seem To Be In the Same Key

Because most songwriters are also instrumentalists, muscle memory plays a big role in key choice. If you’re a guitarist and you’re noodling around trying to create some ideas for songs, you’ll find your fingers wanting to move to the notes and patterns that you find the easiest to play. “Fix Your Songwriting Problems – NOW!” […]

Guitar - songwriting

Getting Control of the Character of Your Songs

What do we mean by a song’s “character?” In most cases, we’re talking about the mood or feel that we pick up from it. And we have all sorts of words that might otherwise be described as “character” words: “gentle”, “edgy”, “aggressive”, “laid back”, “dark”, and so on. Whether we know it or not, a […]