Guitar and Piano

Starting Chord Progressions Away From the Tonic Chord

In music, the tonic chord is the chord that represents the key of the song: C  Dm  Am  G  C In that progression, the key is C major, and C is the tonic chord. The psychology of music makes the tonic chord sound like “home” to us. Our brains relax when, after a long sequence […]

Eric Church

Creating Expectation in a Song Lyric

Lately I’ve been thinking and writing a lot about musical momentum… that quality that keeps people listening to a song. Without it, songs would just be one nice sound following another nice sound, and though it may seem strange to say, that’s not enough to keep people listening. There’s a sense of expectation that keeps people […]

John Lennon - Yoko Ono

Discovering the Power of Musical Momentum: John Lennon’s “Imagine”

In songwriting, momentum is that quality of music that causes us to want to keep listening to a song. Another term for momentum is musical energy, or forward motion. When created and used properly, momentum is a pleasant kind of “tension” in the music, where we sense that something needs to be resolved. If you’re stuck trying […]

Sarah McLachlan

The Main Differences Between Verse 1 and Verse 2

Figuring out the differences between verses and choruses can be tricky enough, but sometimes the biggest problem you’ll have is figuring out what to do with a second verse in your song. And because songs are all about momentum and musical flow, the danger with a weak verse 2 is that the musical flow can […]

Musical Energy

Using the Natural Energy of Music in Your Songwriting

When we talk about the energy of music, at least in strictly songwriting terms, we’re talking about the sense of the music being propelled forward. In this sense, I’m not necessarily talking about how powerful, loud or energetic the music sounds or feels; I’m talking about musical momentum. For example, when one section of a […]

Band in rehearsal

Dealing With “To Be Continued” in Songwriting

When I’m watching a drama on network television, I know that I have to deal with constant stoppages in the action. It’s those commercial breaks that pay the bills, and so they’re important. Those commercial breaks probably make TV executives very nervous: it’s during the breaks that I’m most likely to switch stations and try […]