David Bowie - Changes

Uniqueness is Risky Business

No one could ever fault David Bowie for playing it safe. Even for Bowie fans, his songs, and particularly his lyrics, would often evade clear meaning. When your music moves to the edges of the avant grade, you’re often going to make as many haters as fans. If your songs, however weird they may sound to others, stand […]

R.E.M. Everybody Hurts

Why Sad Music Makes Us Feel Happy

As a songwriter, it wouldn’t be unusual to devote a lot of time to thinking about how to make your audience happy. You’re probably opting for fast tempos, major chords, and lyrics with an upbeat message. But you might be missing something: the positive effect that writing sad music can have on your audience. In 2013 […]

Tennessee Ernie Ford - Bruno Mars

Come to Think Of It…

Some of the best learning happens when we’re working on the job, as opposed to studying, and writing music is no different. With every new song you compose, you probably notice your skills improving, and your technique modifying. That’s certainly not to say that you can’t also approach songwriting as a scholarly pursuit – as a student of the […]

Guitar Hacks & Input Jacks

For Guitarists: Guitar Hacks – Weeding Through the Fluff

If you’re a guitarist and you’re looking for some free material, you may want to head over to the Open Heart Teaching website. Site founder Tim Woosley has recently written a new ebook entitled “Guitar Hacks & Input Jacks: Stuff Every Guitarist Should Know.” I’m pleased to have been asked to contribute an article to […]

Shawn Mendes - Stitches

Songwriting Tips: Getting the Most Out of Verse 2

For many songwriters, writing a chorus is a logical first step. It’s the part with the hook, and you can make great use of repetition to come up with something that’s catchy and memorable. If you’ve started your song with the chorus, the next section you’ll work on is verse 1. That’s because whatever emotions […]

negative online reviews

Dealing With People Who Hate Your Music

As a student of music composition a number of years ago, I never wrote a piece of music for which somebody didn’t express an intense dislike. Those were pre-internet days, so I didn’t have to deal with online trolls, who can demolish your confidence if you let them. The key phrase there is “if you let them.” It […]