Elton John

Sometimes Principles Confuse Us

Lately it seems that I’ve been getting a lot of comments, both through email and in the comments section at the ends of various posts, questioning some of the various songwriting principles I write about. Mainly, a comment will go something like this: “You say that chorus progressions are shorter than verse progressions, but I […]

Guitarist - songwriter on stage

Songwriting and Other One-Sided Conversations

If you ask songwriters to describe the most difficult part of starting any songwriting process, I’m sure many — perhaps most — would say, “Deciding what to write about.” A song is a kind of social interaction. There are vague similarities between singing a song you’ve written, and having a conversation with someone, but with the […]

The Doobie Brothers - 1976

Longevity and Songwriting

It’s a bit of a favourite activity for me to look at hit songs from years ago and try to figure out why some of them fade quickly from the musical radar (“Disco Duck“, by Rick Dees and His Cast of Idiots, No. 1 in 1976), while others never make it to No. 1, but […]

3 Ideas For Starting Lyrics When Ideas Aren’t Happening

No matter what your favourite songwriting process is, all songs start with you getting some sort of musical idea. It might be a fragment of lyric, a catchy chord progression and rhythm, or even just a short bit of melody. Who knows where these ideas come from… often they seem to pop out of thin […]

Adele - Hello

The Benefit of Speaking Your Lyric

Improvisation is an important part of most musician’s songwriting process. You sit at a keyboard, or set up some loops, or start strumming your guitar, and you generate ideas spontaneously. It’s fun to work this way. And I suppose you might say that the stronger your musical imagination, the more likely you’ll hit upon hook-like […]

Paul Simon

Giving Your Songs A Noticeable Point of Focus

When you look at paintings, you’ll notice that most of them have a noticeable point of focus — the area of the canvas that your eye gets drawn toward. Music is not much different; in most songs, you’ll notice that there’s a point of focus. The only difference is that in songs, you usually have […]