Singer - songwriter

Why Chorus Melodies Are Usually Higher Than Verse Melodies

Good music isn’t determined by adherence to rules; it’s more a case that the best songs are guided by certain musical principles. One of those guiding principles is that chorus melodies should normally be pitched higher than verse melodies. “Hooks and Riffs: How They Grab Attention, Make Songs Memorable, and Build Your Fan Base” describes […]

Songwriter - Guitarist

Adding Chords to a Melody: Focus On the Strong Beats

In my own composing of music, I would far rather work out a melody first, and then add the chords as a second step. That’s because melodies are what people hum to themselves; it’s hard to hum a chord progression. Many songwriters, however, work out the chord progression and backing rhythms first. There is one […]

Joni Mitchell

Controlling the Mood of a Song

Mood is one of the first things that’s conveyed by music. Listeners pick up the mood via the partnership of all the various song components, but mostly through: key choice (major versus minor); tempo; melodic shape; instrumental choices and effects; lyrics. I purposely placed lyrics at the bottom of that list, even though the lyrics […]

Singer - Songwriter

The Best Song Lyrics Have Emotions That Arrive in Waves

Even if a song is about something emotional (love, deep friendship, death of a loved one, etc.), it doesn’t work so well to have that lyric be deeply emotional all the time. If all the audience hears is heart-wrenching feelings from beginning to end, it starts to dull its own effect. It’s far better to have […]

Piano and guitar - songwriter

How the Chords You Use In Your Songs Create (or Inhibit) Momentum

Forward motion, or momentum, is an important characteristic of songs. Simply put, momentum makes one moment of a song lead naturally — sometimes almost impatiently — to the next moment. If you hear a verse that seems to “beg for” the chorus, that’s an important characteristic of momentum. Audiences aren’t usually thinking in terms of […]

Rush - Freewill

Freewill: When Melody Lines are Bass Lines

Most of the time the bass in a band plays the root of the chord of the moment. In most genres, it is stylistically desirable for the bass to occasionally fill in the spots between strong beats with other notes, and we’re inclined to rate a bassist’s abilities based on how inventive/supportive these between-the-beats figurations […]