Outline of a guitar

The True Nature of Contrast in Songwriting

We tend to over-simplify what we mean by contrast in a good song, and thereby misunderstand its power. Contrast, in musical terms, means considering musical opposites: loud versus soft, high versus low, and so on. When we over-simplify contrast, we simply think that the contrast principle requires us to mix loud and soft sounds, high and […]

music, photography rule of thirds

Applying the Rule of Thirds to Songwriting

When you talk about thirds to a musician, you’re usually talking about the space between two notes, like C to E, or D to F, and so on. In photography, the so-called “rule of thirds” is completely different: it refers to dividing an image into thirds using two vertical lines and two horizontal lines. If […]

Emotional audience

What Does a Songwriter Need to Know About Musical Structure?

There’s nothing like the word “structure” to turn off an artistically-minded musician. When a song sounds good, we don’t necessarily think about its structure. We just revel in the fact that it just sounds great. But when songs sound good, it’s at least in part due to its structure. So what exactly do we mean […]

Tom Cochrane

Songwriting: Pairing Up Instinct With Knowledge

As a songwriter, you’re always trying to get the notes of your melodies, as well as the chords that accompany them, to sound somehow magical. At least, that’s the way most audiences will perceive what you’ve done. But hopefully you know that it’s not magic. It’s not even random, even though you may use improvisation and […]