Singer - Open mic

When a Song Sounds Bad, Take a Look at the Structure Underneath

When a song sounds great, we like to think that there’s a certain magic involved. But if you are a student of songwriting, as most good songwriters consider themselves to be, you’ll know that it’s not magic that makes a song great. A song sounds great when it follows basic musical principles. And we love […]

Singer - songwriter

Why Chorus Melodies Are Usually Higher Than Verse Melodies

Good music isn’t determined by adherence to rules; it’s more a case that the best songs are guided by certain musical principles. One of those guiding principles is that chorus melodies should normally be pitched higher than verse melodies. “Hooks and Riffs: How They Grab Attention, Make Songs Memorable, and Build Your Fan Base” describes […]

Piano - songwriter - theory

Writing a Song With Unrelated Sections

You might assume that a verse should have some connection to the chorus that follows it — something that makes the verse and chorus sound like musical partners. Creating musical partners of various sorts is usually a goal in good songwriting. But (with the possible exception of the lyrics) it is possible to write a verse and […]

Paul McCartney - John Lennon

The Differences Between Lennon’s and McCartney’s Melodies

Generalizing any aspect of a songwriter’s output is straying into dangerous territory. That’s particularly true of the music of Lennon and McCartney. They were arguably the most versatile writers of pop song of their generation, and probably even now. As soon as they wrote a hit, it was back to the drawing board to come […]

Sad songs

Writing Sad Songs (and Why You’d Want To Do That)

There is research out there that tells us that people like listening to sad music. It doesn’t necessarily bring them down, and in fact can have an opposite, buoyant effect. That’s because as listeners, we want to feel something, and as long as whatever the sad song is about isn’t describing our own state of affairs […]

Oscar Peterson Trio

Fixing Songwriting Errors Before Recording

If you ever listen to an old 1950s-era recording of jazz pianist Oscar Peterson, you’re probably hearing him with his trio which included Herb Ellis on guitar and Ray Brown on bass. No drummer at that time, but the three of them played with such a powerful sense of beat and rhythm that you don’t […]