Bruce Springsteen

Giving Your Songs a Good Sense of Progression

When we talk about progressions, the automatic assumption is that we’re talking about chords. But the reality is that in good songs, practically everything progresses. The reason for the assumption that we’re talking about chords is that they will quickly sound disorganized and confusing if we don’t pick up that all-important aspect of progression. Simply having […]

songwriter

Writing a Song, Then Deciding What It’s About Later

If you’re at all familiar with Classical music, you may be aware that some of the world’s most famous symphonies have nicknames. Haydn’s symphonies are especially famous in this regard: his “Surprise” symphony (No. 94) and his Symphony #83, the “Hen,” the theme for which was reminiscent of a hen scratching. In most cases, the […]

Townes Van Zandt

Major with a Minor Flavour: Townes Van Zandt’s “Pancho and Lefty”

Townes Van Zandt was a highly respected singer-songwriter whose songs were covered by some of the world’s biggest names — Willie Nelson, Emmy Lou Harris, Merle Haggard and others. There’s a quiet kind of contemplative sound to his music and draws the audience in; they make you listen. Van Zandt’s most well-known song is “Pancho […]

Bob Dylan - 1962

Several Ways to Create High Points In Your Songs

With most songs, you become aware that there is a moment where the greatest musical excitement happens. Typically it’s somewhere during the chorus, if the song uses one. If it’s a verse-refrain song, that climactic moment typically happens right at (or near) the start of the refrain, like “The Times They Are A-Changin’.” If your […]

Writing word lists for song lyrics

Creating Word Lists: It Can Give You More Than Lyric Ideas

If you find that writing lyrics takes you a long time, creating word lists can be a big help. By building lists of words, you’re creating a vocabulary that speeds up the process of trying to find the right words: they’re probably all there in front of you, somewhere in your list. Word lists can […]

Guitar and Piano - Creating a Melody and Bass Line

Five Quick Chord Progression Tips

One thing that brings a smile to my face is thinking about the fact that chord progressions work pretty much the same way today (in a pop song) as they did more than 300 years ago (in a Bach aria). If you’ve written a melody and you want to explore the many ways there are […]