U2

What a Good Melodic Shape Does For a Song

In music, a melody that exhibits a kind of “arch shape” is a natural one that really works. Sometimes that arch shape — where the melody starts low in pitch, rises in the middle, and then descends again, is really clear and obvious, like the melody for Johnny Cash’s “I Walk the Line”: And sometimes […]

Recording Studio

If No One Is Humming Your Melodies, Here Are 3 Reasons

The world is a big place. I only mention that because that’s one possible reason why no one is humming your melodies. You need to be realistic in your expectations. If you aren’t actively trying to build an international audience base, most people actually won’t be humming your tunes. But that’s not what I’m talking about […]

Tips for Writing a Verse-Refrain-Bridge Song

Writing a song that’s mainly a set of verses, each one ending with a pay-off line, has a simplicity that really works well. The pay-off line– a refrain — often sneaks into the song at first, without it being obvious that it’s operating as a powerful closer that’s going to keep coming back. Bruce Springsteen’s “All That […]

Guitarist - songwriter

Solving the Problems of Chords-First Songwriting

Chords-first songwriting is a bit of a modern invention. For the great master composers (Bach, Mozart, Beethoven, etc.), composing was almost always about the melody, and so the process of writing music would start there. That’s not to say that composing music was strictly a melody-first process for them after which they’d come up with […]

The Knack

About Those Songs That Don’t Seem to Have a Catchy Shape

If you ask someone what they like about a song melody that they love, they’ll usually mention one or more of the following: It’s got a nice contour that explores a large range, from low to high. It’s got a moment (the so-called climactic moment) that acts as a point of focus for the entire tune. […]

Sia - Chandelier

Songwriting: What You Need to Know About Song Form

When we talk about form in songwriting, we might be referring to the various sections of a song: verse, chorus, bridge, etc. Or we might be talking about something like the rhyme scheme of the lyrics: ABAB, for example. Or we might be talking about some aspect of the design of the melody… ascending figures contrasting with […]