Derek and the Dominos

Using a Key Change as a Musical Surprise

In most songs, key changes happen for any one or more of the following reasons: It raises musical energy. The most typical example of this is the song that has a minor key verse, then switches to a major key chorus. That brightening of the key from minor to major increases musical momentum as it […]

Songwriter - calculating a new key

Moving Your Song’s Key Upward For the Chorus

I remember a while ago listening to someone’s song, trying to analyze what the problem with the chorus was. The songwriter had sent it to me, telling me that she felt the song started with great promise, but halfway through the chorus, everything sounded underwhelming. In that particular song, we diagnosed the problem as being […]

Piano - songwriter - theory

Tips and Tricks: When You Want to Change Key in the Middle

Choosing the key for your song usually involves, at least in the first instance, finding the key that suits your vocal range. Most of the time this isn’t specifically a songwriting issue as much as it is a performance issue. But there are other aspects of key choice that amounts to making a songwriting choice. […]

Piano and guitar - chords

What To Do With a Song Chorus That Isn’t Working

Let’s say you’ve come up with a hook that you think should be something that works well as the main flag-waving part of your chorus. So then you set about to write a verse that leads into that chorus. But once that’s done, and you play the verse and chorus in sequence, you find that the […]

John Lenno - George Harrison

Using the Diminished Seventh Chord in Your Progressions

Take a look at the chords in pop music today, and you don’t see the diminished chord being used much. It’s an extremely versatile chord, but it’s possible that songwriters might be a bit confused as to how to use it. And by “use it”, I think many just don’t know how to approach the […]

Lady Gaga

When a Verse and Chorus Are In Different Keys

Having the verse and chorus in different keys is not rare if you consider the number of songs where the verse is mainly in minor, and then the chorus switches to the relative major. Sometimes the minor-major relationship is a different one, like Lady Gaga’s “Paparazzi” (Stefani Germanotta, Rob Fusari), which has a verse in […]