guitarist - songwriter

Does It Matter Which Process You Use to Start the Writing of Songs?

When a songwriter is asked the question, “How do you start a song?”, they usually mean, “Which element of a song (lyrics, melody, chords, etc.) do you work on as your first step?” That element then becomes the identifier for a particular songwriting process: a “lyrics-first process”, a “melody-first process”, and so on. No matter […]

Piano and guitar

Top 5 Tips for Chords-First Songwriting

If you like starting the songwriting process by figuring out a good chord progression, you probably like how chords very quickly convey a mood. And once you’ve got that mood, you find that other things fall into place quickly, especially a song topic, tempo, rhythmic treatment, and so on. But there are some potential problems […]

Shawn Mendes

Building a Sense of Anticipation in Your Melodies

Recently I wrote about the musical power that comes from starting progressions on a chord other than the tonic chord. By avoiding the tonic, the listener subconsciously wants to hear it, and so it creates a very powerful sense of musical energy: the listener is willing to wait to hear the tonic eventually happen. Songwriters […]

Guitar and Piano

Starting Chord Progressions Away From the Tonic Chord

In music, the tonic chord is the chord that represents the key of the song: C  Dm  Am  G  C In that progression, the key is C major, and C is the tonic chord. The psychology of music makes the tonic chord sound like “home” to us. Our brains relax when, after a long sequence […]

Mumford and Sons

3 Verse-Chorus Chord Progression Partners: Changing Key

Most of the time, if there is a difference in key between a verse and chorus, it’s the kind of thing where a verse will be in minor, switching to the relative major for the chorus. Then you get songs like “Little Lion Man” by Mumford & Sons, which switches quite freely back and forth […]

Beginner songwriter tuning guitar

7 Tips For the Beginning Songwriter

The love of music is a natural part of being human. For many, loving music means listening to it, dancing to it, singing or playing it. For others — many readers of this blog would fall into this category — it’s not enough to enjoy someone else’s music; they get enjoyment out of creating their […]