Shawn Mendes

Building a Sense of Anticipation in Your Melodies

Recently I wrote about the musical power that comes from starting progressions on a chord other than the tonic chord. By avoiding the tonic, the listener subconsciously wants to hear it, and so it creates a very powerful sense of musical energy: the listener is willing to wait to hear the tonic eventually happen. Songwriters […]

Synthesizer player - Songwriter

Creating Chord Progressions That Work in Practically Any Song

A good chord progression has a sense of direction. It doesn’t just wander about, one nice chord following another nice one. Once a progression starts, it’s usually the case that it targets a particular chord, making that one chord more “important”, so to speak, than the others. You see this targeting of that one important […]

Piano and guitar - songwriter

Does It Matter If You Don’t Know the Key of Your Song?

If you’re a songwriter who favours the chords-first process, you’re used to doing a fair bit of improvising and experimenting, coming up with chord combinations that sound good. In the improvising that you do, you’re possibly (or even probably) not aware of key. In other words, it’s quite possible to generate interesting chord progressions even if […]

Piano - songwriter - theory

Tips and Tricks: When You Want to Change Key in the Middle

Choosing the key for your song usually involves, at least in the first instance, finding the key that suits your vocal range. Most of the time this isn’t specifically a songwriting issue as much as it is a performance issue. But there are other aspects of key choice that amounts to making a songwriting choice. […]

Piano and guitar - chords

What To Do With a Song Chorus That Isn’t Working

Let’s say you’ve come up with a hook that you think should be something that works well as the main flag-waving part of your chorus. So then you set about to write a verse that leads into that chorus. But once that’s done, and you play the verse and chorus in sequence, you find that the […]

Mumford and Sons

3 Verse-Chorus Chord Progression Partners: Changing Key

Most of the time, if there is a difference in key between a verse and chorus, it’s the kind of thing where a verse will be in minor, switching to the relative major for the chorus. Then you get songs like “Little Lion Man” by Mumford & Sons, which switches quite freely back and forth […]