Sting - The Police

There’s a Benefit to Writing Song Melodies That Use Few Notes

When I listen to a song that’s spent a good deal of time at the top of the charts, I’m often amazed by how simple its structure is, how simple the chords are, and how few notes the melody actually uses. Sure, there are the exceptions. Elton John’s songs, for example, tend to use long […]

Moon Taxi

Repeating a Short Melodic Fragment: The Chords Keep it Interesting

There’s more to a song hook than meets the ear… a lot more. “Hooks and Riffs: How They Grab Attention, Make Songs Memorable, and Build Your Fan Base” is a vital manual for any serious songwriter. American indie rock group Moon Taxi’s 2015 single “All Day, All Night” is a good reminder that you can […]

Keyboard and Headphones

Songwriting Simplicity is Good; Mindlessness Not So Much

If you ask someone my age (a child of the 1960s, a teen of the 1970s) what they think of today’s pop music, you’ll probably get an earful. Most negative opinions of today’s music will come down to the fact that songs today seem uninspiring, noisy and mindless. “The melodies aren’t interesting”; “The chords are […]

Derek & the Dominos - Layla

How Many Unique Elements Make a Good Song Tune?

Pop songs are typically 3 or 4 minutes in length. And because this is not a long bit of time we’re talking about, it can be a problem if you put too many ideas together when you write that song. Think of it as a kind of musical “economy.” You’ll use one melody for the […]

Yes - Roundabout

How Simplicity Makes for Good Songs

Some of the best songs ever written have a noticeable core of simplicity about them. Songs where the melody is easy to remember and easy to hum means that audiences are more likely to hum it as they go about their day. Simplicity is part of the reason that we find it so easy to […]

Paul Simon

If You Aren’t Creating Images…

A good lyric might use clever rhymes. And it might use no rhymes. You might write a lyric that’s long and involved, or you might write one that uses very few words. Your lyric might be a story. Or the story might be only vaguely implied. You may write about love, or you might write […]