Lady Gaga, Bradley Cooper

Composing Opposites as a Songwriting Exercise

On those days when you’re between songs and don’t know what to write about, you can avoid frustration — and ultimately writer’s block — if you change your focus and work on some songwriting exercises. The end result of a songwriting exercise is usually a fragment — a fragment that might or might not ever […]

Lorde - Writer in the Dark

Balancing the Unique With the Heartfelt

Every songwriter I know wants to write something unique, and you don’t even need to wonder why. Simply put, uniqueness means it hasn’t been done before, and there’s no better way to set yourself apart from other songwriters than to write something that hasn’t been done quite that way before. While that may be true, […]

Nirvana in concert

In Good Songwriting, Opposites Matter

Most songs make use of contrasting characteristics as a way of keeping listeners interested. You might get a song with a verse that’s quiet, at least in comparison to the chorus. “Smells Like Teen Sprit” (Nirvana) is a good example, and practically any power ballad. If you’re looking for one set of eBooks that will […]

Phoebe Bridgers

What’s the Best Connection to Make Between a Verse and Chorus?

There are many songs that seem to show no particular relationship between the verse and the chorus, except for the fact that they both exist in the same song. Take a hit song like “Somebody That I Used to Know” (Gotye), and you’ll notice that the verse and chorus bear no obvious similarity. For 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 […]

Songwriter - Guitarists

Learning From Songwriting Mistakes and Successes

Sometimes you’ll find that a song you’ve written will succeed even when it seems to violate some of the basic principles of good songwriting. It might be a melody that just lingers around one or two notes, when our instincts tell us that good melodies should have a nice up-and-down shape. Or it might be […]