Rolling Stones

A Rare Tonic Note Creates Forward Motion in Your Songs

The tonic note is the one that represents the key of your song, and it has the main quality of feeling like “home”. When a tonic note happens, it sounds as if a musical phrase has, even just temporarily, ended, and the next one can begin. That’s a good reason why the tonic note happens […]

Piano keyboard

A Bit of Chord Inversion (Slash Chord) Theory

Whenever you play a chord, you’re usually playing it in what’s called root position. This means that the root of the chord (the note represented by its letter name) is going to be the lowest-sounding note — the one that the bass is playing. If you want hundreds of chords to experiment with, “The Essential […]

Song energy

Song Energy Needs to Move Up and Down

When we think of the term musical energy, we might immediately think of loudness and tempo. But as a songwriter, you need to develop a slightly more sophisticated understanding of how musical energy works, and what it can do to make people want to listen to — and come back to — your songs. If you’re […]

Singer-Songwriter

Making Verse Melodies Sound Better By Thinking Ahead to the Chorus

If one of your songwriting struggles is to get the verse and chorus melodies to sound like good musical partners, you may be surprised to find that the answer may not be to make them similar. Sometimes good verse-chorus partnerships happen when those two melodies have very different structural qualities. When it comes to making […]

Catfish and the Bottlemen

Pacing Your Chord Changes to Create Musical Energy

We use the term harmonic rhythm to describe the rate that chords change when compared to the number of melody notes. So let’s say you’ve written a song where the melody is primarily a stream of 8th notes. If you’re not sure what that means, think of the verse (and that prominent intro bass line) of […]

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 […]