Musical tightrope

Leaning Without Losing Your Footing

Songwriting in the pop genres is, for the best songwriters out there, like walking a tightrope. Lean too much one way, and you’re giving your audiences exactly what they expected from you. No challenge, no getting them thinking outside whatever musical box they live in. Lean too much the other way, and you’ve given them […]

The Beatles

Songwriting: How to Avoid Moving In a Bad Direction

If you look at the description of Lennon & McCartney’s “I Saw Her Standing There” in the Rolling Stone’s 500 Greatest Songs of All Time list, you’ll read this: This song had been written by McCartney two years earlier. After penning the first line  – “She was just 17” – McCartney wanted to avoid completing […]

Cooking as a Musical Metaphor

It Doesn’t Take Much to Make a Song Uniquely Yours

I’m not much of a cook, but I’ve certainly eaten enough food to know that once you’ve combined all the ingredients of a recipe in a pot on the stove and turn the burner on, new, wonderful flavours emerge. Flavours that you wouldn’t notice when you consider your ingredients separately. If you really love food, you’ll know […]

John Mellencamp - Peaceful World

Two Simple Tricks to Make Your Song Stand Out From the Rest

Visit the Online Store for all your songwriting materials, including “The Essential Secrets of Songwriting” eBooks, plus the video-based “Easy Music Theory” course. Songwriters have a tricky relationship with predictability. A successful song is usually one that is innovative enough to stand out from all other songs, but similar enough to everything else (i.e., predictable enough) that […]

Songwriting, creativity and boredom

How to Use Boredom to Become a Better Songwriter

A year or so ago, I wrote a post about the power of boredom to songwriters. In short, the research is showing that people who are bored score higher in creativity tests. This morning I was listening to a program on CBC Radio 1 called “Ripple Effect.” Part of the show was devoted to the […]

Queen - Bohemian Rhapsody

The Power and Danger of Musical Innovation

There is a reason why treating the principles of good songwriting as if they were rules is a bad idea: you might inadvertently kill a good song. If good musical composition were guided by rules, many number 1 hits would likely have been tossed into the trash bin due to the fact that they did something […]