Bruno Mars - The Lazy Song

Making the Best Use of Motifs in Your Songwriting

For most songwriters, defining a hook is simple: it’s that catchy bit that makes up the main part of the chorus. It usually comes back over and over because that’s what choruses do — they reappear after every verse, and then again after the bridge. A hook is good if it has a melodic shape […]

Guitarist - Drummer

Writing a Songwriter’s Equivalent of a Page-Turner

If you were a novelist, you’d be hoping to write a “page-turner.” As you know, all that means is that the reader simply can’t wait to turn the page to see what happens next. Is there an equivalent to the page-turner in the songwriting world? That concept of anticipation exists in every art form, though […]

Audience at a rock concert

The Power of the People

I’m not a photographer (not a good one, anyway), but I’d rather see photos with people in them than without, no matter how exciting the landmark is that I’m shooting. The simple reason is that we make connections to people more so than to inanimate objects. There’s more to a song hook than meets the […]

Linda Creed - Thom Bell

When Melodies Leap Upward

There’s no denying that the shape of a melody has a lot to do with the mood of music. However, melodic shape is a tricky one to calculate. It’s not based on a rule as much as it’s based on psychology. On a psychological level, we know, for example, that: melodies that are static, sitting […]

Songwriting - Form

Writing an Effective Song Refrain

At first glance you might think of a song’s refrain as simply being a shorter version of a chorus. But they’re actually quite different. Choruses are usually complete structures that can be repeated over and over easily, as we notice with final chorus repeats of most pop songs. But a refrain isn’t a complete structure; […]

Guitarist - songwriter

Starting Songwriting Sessions With a Musical Game

For most songwriters, the way their craft gets practiced is to do more writing. There’s nothing wrong with that, but sometimes doing exercises that target specific songwriting skills is the best way to take what you do to the next level. A number of years ago I came up with five “games” that target specific areas […]