Songwriter - Guitarist

Adding Chords to a Melody: Focus On the Strong Beats

In my own composing of music, I would far rather work out a melody first, and then add the chords as a second step. That’s because melodies are what people hum to themselves; it’s hard to hum a chord progression. Many songwriters, however, work out the chord progression and backing rhythms first. There is one […]

Joni Mitchell

Controlling the Mood of a Song

Mood is one of the first things that’s conveyed by music. Listeners pick up the mood via the partnership of all the various song components, but mostly through: key choice (major versus minor); tempo; melodic shape; instrumental choices and effects; lyrics. I purposely placed lyrics at the bottom of that list, even though the lyrics […]

Tom Petty

Making Your Melodies Easy For Listeners to Remember

In order for a melody to be successful, it needs to be easily remembered by a listener. If your melodies sound like aimless wandering, you’re going to have trouble building an audience for it. The best melodies out there are the ones that people can hum or sing, even if they aren’t great singers. When […]

Piano keyboard and guitar

Tips for Songwriters: Avoiding Accidental Plagiarism

Given the few notes within an octave and the millions of songs that have been written using them, accidental plagiarism is a constant companion for most songwriters. Every time you come up with a great songwriting idea — especially something that you really like — you’re immediately wondering if you’ve stolen the idea from an […]

Yes - Roundabout

How Simplicity Makes for Good Songs

Some of the best songs ever written have a noticeable core of simplicity about them. Songs where the melody is easy to remember and easy to hum means that audiences are more likely to hum it as they go about their day. Simplicity is part of the reason that we find it so easy to […]

Led Zeppelin

The Best Songs Are Partnerships of Ideas

Make a little list of what you consider to be the best songs you know, and you’ll probably see one thing that is in common: each song represents a partnership of ideas. What does that term “partnership of ideas” mean? It refers to the fact that all the various components of a song — the […]