Frustrated Songwriter

Not Every Song Works

You can spend a lot of time trying to get your next song working, but sometimes you have to stop and wonder: has the time you’ve put into it been worth it? On the one hand, you could argue that the answer will always be “yes.” I’ve felt that if a song takes you a year […]

Songwriting - Editing Lyrics

The Power (and Necessity) of Editing Your Songs

The best editing in the creative arts makes things shorter, not longer. That’s not a rule, and it’s not exclusively true, but it’s almost always the case. Pop songs tend to be 3-4 minutes in length. That’s usually because of the subject matter. People think it’s because we don’t have attention spans that will allow […]

Guitar and paper for songwriting

Songwriting Processes: the More the Merrier

When you start your songs the same way, you make it very likely that there will be an unpleasant sameness about them. Your aim as a songwriter should be to feel at ease with as many different processes as possible for starting songs. Comfort with many different processes makes it more likely that your songs […]

Songwriter - Guitarists

Learning From Songwriting Mistakes and Successes

Sometimes you’ll find that a song you’ve written will succeed even when it seems to violate some of the basic principles of good songwriting. It might be a melody that just lingers around one or two notes, when our instincts tell us that good melodies should have a nice up-and-down shape. Or it might be […]

Kris Kristofferson

The Power (and Danger) of Quick Changes Within Songs

There’s a concept in music that applies to chord progressions called harmonic rhythm. That term is used to describe how frequently (i.e., how quickly) chords change, especially in relation to how many notes of melody happen between changes. As you know, some songs use progressions where each chord is strummed for a relatively long time before […]

Songwriter - Pianist

The Hummable Melody

I have a theory as to why so many songwriters like to start with chords: it’s because chords give you: a mood; a musical landscape; the start of a musical form. In very short order, you can easily come up with 8 bars of music when you’ve got 3 chords, even if you don’t have […]