Breaking the Logjam

If you’ve gotten partway through your next song, but you can’t seem to finish it, one of the best techniques for breaking the logjam is to take one aspect of your song and drastically change it. It can sound ridiculous at the time, but it can work. For example, if you’ve been working on something […]

Songwriter - calculating a new key

Moving Your Song’s Key Upward For the Chorus

I remember a while ago listening to someone’s song, trying to analyze what the problem with the chorus was. The songwriter had sent it to me, telling me that she felt the song started with great promise, but halfway through the chorus, everything sounded underwhelming. In that particular song, we diagnosed the problem as being […]

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. […]