Rush - Freewill

Freewill: When Melody Lines are Bass Lines

Most of the time the bass in a band plays the root of the chord of the moment. In most genres, it is stylistically desirable for the bass to occasionally fill in the spots between strong beats with other notes, and we’re inclined to rate a bassist’s abilities based on how inventive/supportive these between-the-beats figurations […]

Bruno Mars - The Lazy Song

Making the Best Use of Motifs in Your Songwriting

For most songwriters, defining a hook is simple: it’s that catchy bit that makes up the main part of the chorus. It usually comes back over and over because that’s what choruses do — they reappear after every verse, and then again after the bridge. A hook is good if it has a melodic shape […]

Guitar, Pencil & Paper

Getting Ideas When a Line of Lyric is Missing

One bad line of lyric can make an entire verse or chorus sound lame. So what do you do when you’ve got a verse that you really like, except that there’s that one line that just seems to be elusive: you just can’t come up with anything. It might be that the line in question […]

Singer - Songwriter

Songwriting and Line Drawing

I’ve written a few articles on this blog about the notion of drawing a line that represents your melody (like this article I wrote a few years ago). It’s not just that it’s kind of neat to see your melody sketched out as a line; there is a real purpose and benefit from seeing your […]

Gotye - Eyes Wide Open

5 Tips For Writing a More Focused Lyric

It’s important to realize that what you’re dealing with in songwriting is getting an audience to feel something, more so than telling a story. True, your song will involve telling a kind of story– a lover who tosses you away, or perhaps a plea to the world for more kindness — but what it comes down […]

Focusing Lyrics With a Good Payoff Line

The purpose of a payoff line is to provide a point of focus for your lyric, and, by extension, a purpose for your song. It’s a kind of hook that is delivered by the lyric. When a listener hears a good payoff line, their subconscious reaction is, so that’s what the song’s really about. (Example: […]