Shawn Mendes

Building a Sense of Anticipation in Your Melodies

Recently I wrote about the musical power that comes from starting progressions on a chord other than the tonic chord. By avoiding the tonic, the listener subconsciously wants to hear it, and so it creates a very powerful sense of musical energy: the listener is willing to wait to hear the tonic eventually happen. Songwriters […]

Music concert microphone

Imagining Song Melodies

Writing the chorus part of a song is usually a very different process than writing the verse part. With choruses, you’re usually coming up with a little package of music — some chords, a backing rhythm, a catchy melodic bit and then some lyrics. That musical package is what we call the chorus hook, and […]

guitarist - songwriter

Songwriting, and Mastering the Short Musical Journey

Symphonies and operas are probably the longest complete works in our musical history. By the time you get to the end of the Romantic era (i.e., the end of the 19th century), a typical symphony (or symphony-like work) could be over an hour long. By contrast, songs in the pop genres (pop, country, rock, etc.) […]

Lenny Kravitz

When Simplicity Rocks: Lenny Kravitz and “Fly Away”

Twenty-one years ago Lenny Kravitz released “Fly Away“, the fourth single from his fifth studio album, ‘5‘. If you’re not sure you know the song, you’ve likely heard it as the soundtrack for travel agencies, car companies and more, like this Nissan commercial from 2011. If you’re ready to study — to learn why a great song […]

Songwriter- Writer's Block

What You Can Copy From Another Song

We all know that songs need to be unique. You can’t take someone’s melody or lyrics and call them your own. Most songwriters know, though, that chord progressions aren’t generally protected by copyright. So that’s certainly one element of a song that you can take and use, guilt-free. If you’re trying to develop a lyrics-first […]

Guitarist - Drummer

Tips for Writing a Great Song Hook

Even non-musicians have an idea of what the hook of a song is: it’s the short, memorable bit that comes immediately to mind when you ask someone, “Hey, do you know the song ____?” Back in the 70s, if you asked someone, “Hey, do you know the song “Stayin’ Alive”, they’d immediately sing, “Ah, ah, […]