Peter Gabriel

The Best Songs Fluctuate Between Fragile and Strong Moments

I talk a lot about the concept of “fragile” versus “strong” in songwriting, and particularly when I’m talking about chord progressions. In that regard, “strong” means “clearly indicating the key with a short, unambiguous set of chord changes.” With chords, “fragile” means the opposite: making the key less clear — less obvious, by creating a […]

The Who - Won't Get Fooled Again

Creating Strong Chord Progressions That Aren’t the Standard I-IV-V Variety

There are probably lots of ways to categorize chord progressions, but for songwriters, the most helpful way would be to think of them as either being fragile or strong. Those terms, fragile and strong, pertain to how clearly identifiable the key is. For progressions that wander about, with lots of interesting twists and turns, you’re probably […]

guitar - songwriting

From Wandering to Predictable – Comparing Verse and Chorus Progressions

There are lots of ways to categorize chord progressions, but the one way that will be most useful for pop songwriters is to think of them as being either fragile or strong. A fragile progression is one where the key is not necessarily clear and obvious. These can be very beautiful progressions, and are the kind that […]

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, […]