Blake Shelton - Boys 'Round Here

The Role of Cleverness in Popular Songwriting

When we use the word “clever” in songwriting, we’re usually talking about lyrics. In that context, a clever lyric means any one of the following: There’s a double meaning going on that might not be immediately obvious. (i.e., the song isn’t about what it appears to be about) There are common words being used in […]

Keyboardist songwriter

What To Do If You Can’t Finish a Song

How early in the songwriting process do you think about the formal design of your song? Do you ever think about verse-chorus design options of your song as soon as you create a good songwriting idea? As you’ll hopefully know, getting good songwriting ideas is not the same thing as being able to write a […]

The songwriting journey

Making Each Song You Write a Unique Musical Journey

Not all artforms are processed the same way in our brains. You might, for example, choose a particular painting to hang in your living room, one that you really like looking at. And you’re fine with seeing it “all the time.” Every time you go into your living room, there it is. It’s a nice […]

Countermelody: A Nice Alternative to Simple Backing Vocals

When you listen to verse 2 of Simon & Garfunkel’s “Scarborough Fair/Canticle, you’re hearing the main melody, but you’re also hearing, in addition to some simple backing vocals,  a secondary melody in the background. Do you find that writing a great melody is your biggest challenge? In great songs, it’s not just about the tune […]

Open-air Concert

Songwriting Deadlines – Do They Work?

There are the kind of deadlines we’re always setting for ourselves, and then there are the real ones. For songwriters, here’s the difference: A deadline comes about when you say, “This year I’m going to release a new EP”, or “This year I’m going to write 15 new songs.” Sure, those are deadlines, but let’s face it […]

Feist - How Come You Never Go There

The Tricky Nature of Pop Song Analysis

I’m a believer in song analysis as a way of improving songwriting technique. For any writer of music, basic curiosity should make us want to know why something sounds so good, so that we might be able to incorporate at least some of those ideas into our own music. (Or why something sounds so bad, so […]