Peter Gabriel

The Best Songs Fluctuate Between Fragile and Strong Moments

I talk a lot about the concept of “fragile” versus “strong” in songwriting, and particularly when I’m talking about chord progressions. In that regard, “strong” means “clearly indicating the key with a short, unambiguous set of chord changes.” With chords, “fragile” means the opposite: making the key less clear — less obvious, by creating a […]

The Who - Won't Get Fooled Again

Creating Strong Chord Progressions That Aren’t the Standard I-IV-V Variety

There are probably lots of ways to categorize chord progressions, but for songwriters, the most helpful way would be to think of them as either being fragile or strong. Those terms, fragile and strong, pertain to how clearly identifiable the key is. For progressions that wander about, with lots of interesting twists and turns, you’re probably […]

Guitar - altered chords

Tips for Adding Chords to Melodies

If you like any of the melody-first songwriting processes, you know that eventually you need to add chords to that melody. If chord progressions are the part of writing that’s a little out of your comfort zone, here are some tips and ideas that can help : Get a sense of the strong beat-weak beat […]

guitar - songwriting

From Wandering to Predictable – Comparing Verse and Chorus Progressions

There are lots of ways to categorize chord progressions, but the one way that will be most useful for pop songwriters is to think of them as being either fragile or strong. A fragile progression is one where the key is not necessarily clear and obvious. These can be very beautiful progressions, and are the kind that […]

Brian Wilson - Tony Asher

How a Song’s Chorus Makes Use of Musically Strong Elements

When you listen to a song just for entertainment, you’re not usually aware that parts of the song are musically ambiguous in some way, while other parts are clear and strong. Let’s say, for example, that you start your song by writing a verse that uses this short progression: C-Bb-C-Bb-C-Bb… There’s a kind of ambiguity associated […]