How Melodies Move Up and Down Within Your Song

Good songs are almost always about contrasts. If you look closely at chord progressions, you’ll notice major and minor chords: opposites working together. With instrumentation, you’ll often see sparse, transparent sections (often the verse) contrasting with fuller, busier parts (the chorus). Contrast is an important part of what keeps listeners coming back to your song. […]

Foreigner - I Want to know What Love Is

What a Melody Should Do In a Song’s Pre-Chorus Section

A pre-chorus is an optional section that sits between the verse and chorus. There are several reasons why you might choose to use a pre-chorus in a song, the most common reasons being any combination of the following: The verse is quite short. The verse melody is very repetitive. The beginning of the chorus is […]

Singer - songwriter

Why Chorus Melodies Are Usually Higher Than Verse Melodies

Good music isn’t determined by adherence to rules; it’s more a case that the best songs are guided by certain musical principles. One of those guiding principles is that chorus melodies should normally be pitched higher than verse melodies. “Hooks and Riffs: How They Grab Attention, Make Songs Memorable, and Build Your Fan Base” describes […]

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 […]