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 […]

Song Form: Making a More Energetic Chorus

It’s not terribly surprising that most people can tell whether they’re hearing a chorus or a verse. That’s a good thing, because songs don’t come with signposts that say, “This is the verse…”; “This is the chorus.” What I find interesting is that even non-musicians can tell. Songs normally start with the verse, but with […]

Songwriter

Choosing Chords to Make Your Lyrics More Powerful

It’s an important principle in good songwriting that all elements within any song should act as partners. We know, for example, that the mood of a song can be strongly affected by the tempo we choose, and also by production choices: instrumentation, performance style, and even the key. A lyric can be excellent, but if […]

The Wrecking Crew

Adding Non-Standard Instruments to Your Song Recordings

How much thought do you give to the instrumental accompaniment for your songs? The question may feel like a no-brainer; if you’re a guitarist, you’ll use guitar. If you’re a keyboardist, you’ll lean towards using keyboards. But simply deciding to use the instrument you’re most comfortable with may be missing great opportunities to create something interesting for […]