Pet Shop Boys

Making Dramatic Changes to Song Mood With Tempo

Songwriting tends to happen in two stages. First, you spend a certain amount of time creating ideas, and second, you experiment with, pull together and reshape those ideas until you get the song into its final form. Some songwriters find the first stage relatively easy, but get frustrated trying to make a finished song. They get […]

Chord Progressions: Uniqueness is Not All That Necessary (Or Possible)

There are certain progressions — certain combinations of chords — you’re more likely to see in songs written by a 21st century pop songwriter than you might with a Classical musician. But check out these two progressions and try to figure out which one was used by Romantic era composer almost 150 years ago, and […]

Lorde - Writer in the Dark

Balancing the Unique With the Heartfelt

Every songwriter I know wants to write something unique, and you don’t even need to wonder why. Simply put, uniqueness means it hasn’t been done before, and there’s no better way to set yourself apart from other songwriters than to write something that hasn’t been done quite that way before. While that may be true, […]

Julia Michaels - "Issues"

Getting a Song Working Before the Recording Process

When we talk about musical energy or momentum, we’re often talking about how loud, quick or rhythmically complex a song is. We think of songs that have energy as songs that get us moving. But in fact, energy is more complicated than that. All songs have energy, even the very quiet, slow ballads that are […]

Guitar - songwriting

Getting Control of the Character of Your Songs

What do we mean by a song’s “character?” In most cases, we’re talking about the mood or feel that we pick up from it. And we have all sorts of words that might otherwise be described as “character” words: “gentle”, “edgy”, “aggressive”, “laid back”, “dark”, and so on. Whether we know it or not, a […]

Genesis

Becoming Positively Critical of Your Own Music

No one likes negative reviews. You put your heart and soul into the music you write, and then someone says that the lyric doesn’t work, or the instrumentation feels wrong, or they simply… don’t like it. If there’s a way to put your emotional reaction to a bad review aside, you’ll find that you will […]