Singer-songwriter-guitarist

Polishing Songs Has a Limit

Scott Borchetta is an American record executive, known mostly as the founder of Big Machine Label Group. You may not know who he is, but suffice it to say that he’s spent a lot of his career working in the business end of music. He started Big Machine Records, and his first major client was […]

Band rehearsal session

Group Improvisation Ideas to Write Better Songs

Most songwriting processes use improvisation to some degree. Early in the process, improvising can seem aimless and futile. There’s a good reason for that: the best songs are a partnership of ideas. And since you’re just starting, most of the ideas you and your bandmates are coming up with might not be communicating with each other. […]

Music concert microphone

Using the Direction of Your Melodies to Create Musical Contrast

You may not have considered the up-or-down direction of your song melodies as being all that important, but it can go a long way to adding structure and musical interest to your song. Specifically, contrasting upward-moving phrases with downward-moving ones can be an aspect of musical contrast that keeps listeners listening. What I’m about to […]

Rock band in concert

A Song Hook’s Rhythm and Melody, and How They Pair Up

Good songs don’t follow rules; it’s more a case of following guidelines. That means that every time you think you’ve identified a songwriting “rule”, you can come up with a list of songs that don’t follow it. Here’s a good example: if you look at a hundred different songs and try to identify the characteristics […]

Guitar and piano

Chord Theory Can Be Complicated, But These Two Things Top the List

There’s a lot you can study about chords — about the way they work, how to choose them, and how one progression relates to another. All of it comes under the large umbrella called chord theory, and it’s a very large umbrella. Some songwriters have a knack for it; it’s not something they have to consciously […]