Rush - Spirit of Radio

Comparing Vocal and Instrumental Melodies

In theory, there shouldn’t be a lot of difference between a melody that’s meant to be sung and one that’s meant to be played. Particularly in the pop genres, both kinds of melodies will usually display the following characteristics: The melody will usually move mainly by step (i.e., adjacent notes in a scale) with occasional […]

Microphone

Songwriting Principles Are Often Clearer In Older Songs

Sometimes you’ll find that studying songs from a genre not your own is a really great way to expand on what you do. Songwriting principles usually apply across genres, and hearing a principle demonstrated in a different genre can act as a kind of metaphor for your own. The same thing happens when you study […]

Musical Energy

Using the Natural Energy of Music in Your Songwriting

When we talk about the energy of music, at least in strictly songwriting terms, we’re talking about the sense of the music being propelled forward. In this sense, I’m not necessarily talking about how powerful, loud or energetic the music sounds or feels; I’m talking about musical momentum. For example, when one section of a […]

songwriter

The Advantages of a Lyrics-First Songwriting Process

In my last post, “Finding Your Best Starting Point”, I offered suggestions for how to build a songwriting process when you’ve got a small fragment of music as your starting point. One of those fragments might be a bit of lyric. For many songwriters, starting the process with lyrics can yield great results. There are […]

Keyboard - Chord Progressions

Simplicity as a Starting Point

As a songwriter you may be attracted to the notion of writing something complex, something that really gets your audience thinking. Complex chords, intricate harmonies, thoughtful lyrics, melodies that surprise… it’s all part of what makes your 4-minute song something that will stimulate the imagination of your listeners. The problem with complexity in songwriting is […]

Bruno Mars - The Lazy Song

Making the Best Use of Motifs in Your Songwriting

For most songwriters, defining a hook is simple: it’s that catchy bit that makes up the main part of the chorus. It usually comes back over and over because that’s what choruses do — they reappear after every verse, and then again after the bridge. A hook is good if it has a melodic shape […]