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 […]

Metronome

What to Think About When Choosing a Tempo For Your New Song

Many songwriters don’t think a lot about tempo when writing songs. For many (perhaps most), songs start with improvising ideas over a catchy set of chords, so it’s often the case that a tempo is chosen almost on a subconscious level. Excellence happens when you practice your technique. The 9-Lesson Course takes you through the […]

Eric Clapton

A Change of Tempo Can Help You Blast Through a Creative Logjam

When you’re dealing with a creative block, you’ve probably discovered that making a big change in your songwriting process can be rewarding, and you’ve likely tried most of them: Speedwriting (stream of consciousness). Composing on a new (or otherwise unfamiliar) instrument. Partnering up with another songwriter. Changing key from major to minor, or vice versa. […]

John Legend

The Benefit of Leaving Lyrics to the Last Step

It’s a good idea to come up with a song topic and perhaps a few snippets of lyric fairly early in the songwriting process. Having the topic gives you a direction for your musical mind, and every line of lyric you generate adds to your song’s character. Thousands of songwriters are using “The Essential Secrets […]

Big Star - Thirteen

Writing Melodies to Match the Mood of Your Lyrics

Once in a while I look back in my blog archive just to remind myself of the kinds of things I was writing about a few years ago. I came across an analysis I did in 2013 of the song “Thirteen”, by Big Star, which they wrote and recorded in 1971. That’s a song that still […]