Brian Wilson - Tony Asher

How a Song’s Chorus Makes Use of Musically Strong Elements

When you listen to a song just for entertainment, you’re not usually aware that parts of the song are musically ambiguous in some way, while other parts are clear and strong. Let’s say, for example, that you start your song by writing a verse that uses this short progression: C-Bb-C-Bb-C-Bb… There’s a kind of ambiguity associated […]

Andy Grammer

A Chords-and-Melody Troubleshooting Guide for Songwriters

Is putting chords and melodies together one of your biggest challenges as a songwriter? Every song is unique, and uniqueness can sometimes make it hard to understand how chords can and should be supporting the form of your songs, and the melody notes above them. If you like starting songs by working out chord progressions, […]

Piano and guitar - mixolydian mode

What is a Fragile Chord Progression?

If you’ve got a melody, but don’t know how to add chords to it, you need to read “How to Harmonize a Melody.” It will show you, with sound samples, a clear step-by-step for adding chords that will make your melody sound great. In most pop songs, the chord progressions you’ll find yourself using will […]

Songwriter-Guitarist

Chord Progressions, and the Strong-Fragile Concept

Last week I received an email from a blog reader, with a question regarding chord progressions. It’s similar to one that I receive a lot, and so I thought perhaps I would post it here, along with my answer [slightly edited in spots for clarity], and hope that it might be helpful for those of […]

Singer-Songwriter

Making Use of Musical Ambiguity in Your Songwriting

There is a pattern you’ll notice in most pop songs, which is that as they move along, they alternate between sections that are ambiguous in nature and sections that are much clearer and easy to understand. I like using the terms “fragile” and “strong”: In many songs, that “fragile-strong” labelling is synonymous with “verse-chorus” structure. […]

Making Best Use of a “Fragile” Songwriting Idea

To describe a musical idea as “fragile” means that there is a certain measure of ambiguity. I like to use the term especially when describing chord progressions. A fragile progression is one in which any of the following are true: The chords do not strongly indicate the key. For example, moving back and forth from Am […]