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 […]

songwriter pondering the future

Staying Strong – Staying Creative

We are living in times that we haven’t seen in our lifetime. I am very impressed by the positivity I see from so many people as we deal with this COVID-19 crisis. And the truth is: we will get through this. As a songwriter, you’re uniquely placed to bolster the mood and resolve of the […]

Adele

Creating Moods In a Song is More Than Major Versus Minor

It’s a stereotypical notion that major keys sound happy and minor keys sound sad. In reality, it takes a lot more than simply choosing major or minor. You can have sad songs in major keys (“Someone Like You” – Adele, Dan Wilson), and you can have happy songs in minor keys (“Happy ‘Cause I’m Going […]

Songwriter - guitarist

An Important Way That Chords-First Songwriting Can Let You Down

There is a lot to be said for the chords-first songwriting process, not the least of which is the fact that when you start vamping on a chord progression, a mood usually becomes quickly obvious. And once you’ve got the mood of the music, a topic will often be easier to settle on. And once […]

MIck Jagger / Keith Richards

Songwriting: Separating the Writing of Lyrics From the Writing of Music

The power and strength of your lyrics is an important part of how future audiences will rate you as a songwriter. It’s true that some fantastic songs have had pretty mundane lyrics. “I Love Rock ‘n Roll”, written by Alan Merrill and Jake Hooker, and made most famous by Joan Jett’s 1982 recording, is in […]

Sam Cooke

Coming Up With Fresh Song Topics When You’re Out of Ideas

Deciding what your next song could or should be about can stop your creative process in its tracks if you let it. You’ll be happy to know that great songs don’t need to be profound. True, some of the songs we acknowledge as being the greatest ones are about deep, philosophical/social issues: “Like a Rolling […]