Marvin Gaye

The Secret Power of the Melody: “I Heard It Through the Grapevine”

The 1960s hit song “I Heard It Through the Grapevine“, written by Norman Whitfield and Barrett Strong, was a Motown hit for several groups. Gladys Knight & the Pips released it in 1967, and it went to number 1 on the R&B Singles chart. You’re probably more familiar with the Marvin Gaye version, released in […]

Joni Mitchell - Little Green

Great Songs Are the Best Teachers We Have

Recently the music world has been noting and celebrating the fifty-year anniversary of Joni Mitchell’s 1971 album “Blue.” If you know this album, you will know that many will tell you that the lyrics are its most powerful element. And I agree with that sentiment. There’s not a weak song on the album. When you […]

Kiefer Sutherland

“Something You Love” (Kiefer Sutherland) – Why It Works

I wonder if I can be forgiven for not being aware of the quality of Kiefer Sutherland’s music. I’ve always known him as an excellent actor (24, Designated Survivor, etc.). But I wasn’t at all familiar with his music. And it’s very good. He’s released two albums to date: “Down in a Hole” (2016) and “Reckless […]

Microphone

How Melodies Move Up and Down Within Your Song

Good songs are almost always about contrasts. If you look closely at chord progressions, you’ll notice major and minor chords: opposites working together. With instrumentation, you’ll often see sparse, transparent sections (often the verse) contrasting with fuller, busier parts (the chorus). Contrast is an important part of what keeps listeners coming back to your song. […]

Rush

Considering the Note Your Melody Starts On

How much thought do you give to the note you choose to start your song melodies on? It may seem trivial because from that first note you can move in any direction you want, and so it may not feel as though it matters a whole lot, once you’re a few notes in. But I […]

Simon & Garfunkel

Writing a Rock Anthem – The Important Characteristics

It’s hard to define what a rock anthem is. It’s the sort of song form that you recognize when you hear it, though. The most important quality of an anthem is probably universality: the notion that everyone could join in and sing the chorus together, and feel a sense of camaraderie and celebration for doing […]