Peter Gabriel

The Best Songs Fluctuate Between Fragile and Strong Moments

I talk a lot about the concept of “fragile” versus “strong” in songwriting, and particularly when I’m talking about chord progressions. In that regard, “strong” means “clearly indicating the key with a short, unambiguous set of chord changes.” With chords, “fragile” means the opposite: making the key less clear — less obvious, by creating a […]

Songwriting in the studio

Songwriting and the Meaning of Music

When you think of the word meaning as it applies to your songs, are you talking about the picture that gets created from the lyrics? Or perhaps you’re talking about the picture that gets created from the sound of the instruments? For me, I pull more meaning out of the instrumental/vocal performance of a song than […]

Paul Simon

More Thoughts on Uniqueness, Conformity, and Artistic Value in Songwriting

Monday’s blog post, “Uniqueness is a Powerful and Necessary Element in Good Songwriting”, got me thinking a lot more about the challenges of writing something singular within a particular genre, and so think of this post as a kind of “Part 2” to that article: One thing that practically all artistic works have in common, […]

guitarist - songwriter

Does It Matter Which Process You Use to Start the Writing of Songs?

When a songwriter is asked the question, “How do you start a song?”, they usually mean, “Which element of a song (lyrics, melody, chords, etc.) do you work on as your first step?” That element then becomes the identifier for a particular songwriting process: a “lyrics-first process”, a “melody-first process”, and so on. No matter […]

Songwriter

Five Steps to Making Words Singable

Do you find it reasonably easy to write words (lyrics, poetry, etc.), but when you try to create songs with those words, everything sounds corny, random, and just plain bad? You read the words, and they sound just fine; you try singing them, and they sound a bit lame. The best songwriters are best because of […]

Songwriter - lyrics

Forced Rhymes: the Ever-Present Danger of Rhyming Dictionaries

Apparently Bruce Springsteen used a rhyming dictionary to come up with the lyrics to “Blinded By the Light.” That cleared up a long-held puzzlement for me: I was finding it hard to understand how in the world his musical mind was coming up with those lyrical images: Madman drummers bummers and indians in the summer […]