The Doobie Brothers - 1976

Longevity and Songwriting

It’s a bit of a favourite activity for me to look at hit songs from years ago and try to figure out why some of them fade quickly from the musical radar (“Disco Duck“, by Rick Dees and His Cast of Idiots, No. 1 in 1976), while others never make it to No. 1, but […]

How to Improvise Your Next Song

I wrote recently about the difference between theory and practice (“What’s Most Important: Theory or Practice?“) The best songwriters are the ones that know a bit of the theory behind what they do, and then spend a good amount of time “practicing” their art. The practical side of songwriting is the actual doing side. In pop […]

Transcribing Songs: The Best Ear Training a Songwriter Can Do

When I was a teenager, I had a somewhat limited knowledge of music theory and how it worked. I think that’s typical for most young people. I played trumpet and a bit of piano, so I could read notes in the treble and bass clef, but I had a very rudimentary understanding of what chords […]

Connecting Melodic Ideas Between a Verse and Chorus

How much of a connection should a listener hear between the verse and chorus? In other words, except for tempo, key and general feel, can a verse melody set up a chorus well if it bears little to no similarity to that chorus melody? Take the classic hit “Witchy Woman” (Don Henley, Bernie Leadon). Compare […]

Adele - Hello

The Benefit of Speaking Your Lyric

Improvisation is an important part of most musician’s songwriting process. You sit at a keyboard, or set up some loops, or start strumming your guitar, and you generate ideas spontaneously. It’s fun to work this way. And I suppose you might say that the stronger your musical imagination, the more likely you’ll hit upon hook-like […]

Songwriting and Line Drawing

I’ve written a few articles on this blog about the notion of drawing a line that represents your melody (like this article I wrote a few years ago). It’s not just that it’s kind of neat to see your melody sketched out as a line; there is a real purpose and benefit from seeing your […]