Frustrated songwriter

Controlling An Audience’s Mood With Your Songs

How do you make people think something with music? It’s amazing that simply hearing the air vibrate can do that, but such is the strength of being a member of the human race. I’ve mentioned on this blog before that some songwriters, like Paul Simon, like to compose music (melody and chords) and then decide […]

5 Tips for Dealing With Writer’s Block

An important first step to being a successful songwriter is to finish songs. If all you have are bits of ideas, with nothing resembling a completed song, you’ve got a huge psychological hurdle to get over. Just finishing something — even if it isn’t what you think of as “good” — gives you a positive shot in […]

Songwriter - piano player

How Melody Notes and Chords Cooperate

I often get emails asking me some variation on the following: How can chords, which contain only 3 or 4 notes, be used to accompany melodies that contain so many notes? The question relates to the fact that you might strum a chord for two full bars (8 beats) or even more, and in those […]

Writing a Lyrics-First Song

You might think that songwriters who create a lyric first are likely to be poets, but that’s not always the case. Some poetry works well as song lyrics, but only if: the poem has universal appeal: it speaks of issues and situations that most people would identify with on some level; the poem taps in to […]

Keyboard & Guitar

How Do You Settle On a Songwriting Process?

When you ask songwriters to describe their songwriting process, the answer you invariably get is, “It depends…” That’s the answer we tend to expect, and of course it really does depend, doesn’t it? If you are like most songwriters, you’ll find that a short fragment of music will plant itself in your brain, and that […]

Gotye - Easy Way Out

How Much Contrast Does a Good Song Need?

We know that creating contrast is an important principle in the structure of good songwriting. Contrast is naturally sought by listeners, and they’re not usually aware that they’re seeking it. When melodies are low, we assume they’ll move higher. When music is soft, we expect that something louder is going to happen. If you listen […]