Sam Smith - I'm Not the Only One

Creating a Verse and Chorus Over the Same Chord Progression

It sometimes amazes me how different a verse and chorus can be from each other. The classic example of this is probably Paul Simon’s “My Little Town“, which features a long meandering verse with a complex chord progression, syncopations and changing time signatures. The chorus changes character almost completely, offering a very short, catchy hook […]

Singer-Songwriter

Identifying Your Songwriting Achilles’ Heel

In typical usage, an Achilles’ heel is a weakness. But it’s a little more than that. To have an Achilles’ heel means that, in the midst of what seems to be many obvious strengths, you’ve got one weakness that threatens to bring you down. That term may be on its way to becoming antiquated. I […]

Gently Rising Song Melodies Creates Musical Momentum

When a song melody moves upward, you hear an intensifying of musical energy. That’s because of the nature of the human voice. The higher we sing, the more tension we hear in the voice. You know that when you’re singing at the very top of your range that you hear that bit of strain. In […]

Writing Songs That Use Three Simple Melodies

I’ve recently returned to listening to an album that really impressed me when it was released in 2015: “Carrie & Lowell,” by American singer-songwriter Sufjan Stevens. I hope you take the time to give it a listen. What I love the most about it is its transparency of sound. With simple guitar and keyboard accompaniments, […]

Sketching Ideas Before the Songwriting Begins

How often does sketching become part of your songwriting process? And what does that term mean to you? In most of the creative art forms, sketching is vital. Whether you’re a novelist creating character sketches, a choreographer sketching out a dance routine, or an artist getting ideas for a new painting, sketching has two main purposes: […]

Copying Professional Songwriters as a Songwriting Technique

I’ve frequently written about the value of writing music that sounds like your songwriting hero, but it begs an important question: Aren’t you just running the risk of plagiarizing something they’ve written? And it begs a second more important question: Why is that even good advice? Why would you write to purposely sound like someone […]