Lorde - Liability

The Laser Focus of Good Song Lyrics

Good lyrics have a strong sense of focus — of purpose and direction. It might help to make that statement the opposite way: bad lyrics wander about without being overly clear about what’s even being said. To say that a song lyric has focus means that it points toward a specific topic and doesn’t stray needlessly. […]

Guitarist - Songwriter

Chord Progression Basics for Songwriters

Sometimes when I write a blog post that deals with chord progressions, I realize, usually by emails I receive, that the terminology or symbols that I’m using might be confusing or misunderstood. Because chords are such an important part of music in any genre, different ways to describe and name them have developed more or […]

Singer - Open mic

Music From a Different Angle Can Help Cure Writer’s Block

If you find that you just can’t finish any song you start these days, give yourself a break from writing before the frustrations get too deep. It’s often a good time to involve yourself in music, but from a completely different angle. If most of the music you write comes about by playing around with […]

Paul Simon

Creating an Emotional Response With Song Lyrics

It’s an observation about lyrics that I’ve become aware of only recently: I tend to think of good lyricists as people who either a) make me think, or b) make me feel. Sometimes both simultaneously, (like you might experience with a song like, say, “Crying Lightning” – Arctic Monkeys (Alex Turner) but often one or the other. […]

Kacey Musgraves

Writing Songs Reminiscent of an Earlier Time

You hear a lot of criticism these days about pop music, and how everything sounds the same. Not enough creativity, no one going out on a limb. In reality, pop music — at least the kind that makes it to the Billboard Hot 100 — has always been populated with songs that sound the same. […]

The Chorus Hook and the Climactic High Point

I write a lot on this blog about song melodies and their so-called climactic high point. That’s a term that refers (usually) to the highest notes of a song. I say usually because sometimes the climactic moment in a song isn’t necessarily it’s highest note. For example, choruses will often sound more climactic — more exciting […]