Guitar and paper for songwriting

Ignoring Rules – Following Principles

It’s common to hear questions posed by those who are relatively new to the world of songwriting that start with the phrase: “Can I…”, or “Is it OK to…” “Can I start and end a song in different keys?” “Can I change tempo in the middle of a song?” “Is it OK to write pop […]

Songwriter in Home Studio

Are Songwriting Principles Genre-Specific?

In songwriting, a principle is a statement that attempts to explain why some aspect or element of music works the way it does. Principles are not rules, because a rule implies that it must (or at least should) be done a certain way in order for the music to be successful. But a principle makes […]

guitarist - songwriter

When Practice Might Not Make Perfect

We use the expression “practice makes perfect” to remind ourselves that simply knowing something isn’t enough. Once armed with knowledge, you need to put it to work for you. And that’s the practice part. In school you learned the basic concepts of mathematics. Once you acquired that knowledge, your teacher gave you endless exercises to help you […]

Elton John

Sometimes Principles Confuse Us

Lately it seems that I’ve been getting a lot of comments, both through email and in the comments section at the ends of various posts, questioning some of the various songwriting principles I write about. Mainly, a comment will go something like this: “You say that chorus progressions are shorter than verse progressions, but I […]

Carpentry tools

Songwriting Lessons from the Unlikeliest Sources

I don’t know if you feel the same way, but sometimes I learn the best lessons regarding music by thinking of something completely unmusical. Metaphors speak loudly and meaningfully to me. I like building things out of wood. It’s something I love, even if I’m not doing it at a professional level. But with every […]

Songwriting notepad

Identifying the Principles That Guide Good Songwriting

In order to help students fully understand a topic, teachers will identify a list of principles that strive to explain as much as possible with as few words as possible. We teachers of music do that very thing: we study as large a collection of music as possible, and then come up with a few statements […]