Derek and the Dominos

Using a Key Change as a Musical Surprise

In most songs, key changes happen for any one or more of the following reasons: It raises musical energy. The most typical example of this is the song that has a minor key verse, then switches to a major key chorus. That brightening of the key from minor to major increases musical momentum as it […]

George Harrison

From a Minor Key Verse to Its Parallel Major

You may be familiar with the term relative major — that’s the major key that uses the same key signature as a particular minor key. It’s a very common key relationship in pop songs, because if you’ve written a song that uses a minor key verse, and you decide to switch to major for the chorus, […]

Brian Wilson

Creating Musical Surprises In Your Chord Progressions

Chord progressions, even in music that sounds innovative or novel, are usually the most predictable part of a song’s design. A song might have lyrics that are hard to understand, and use odd instruments, time signatures or unpredictable melodic ideas, but chords are usually the most easily understood part. That’s why I often use landscape […]

Piano - songwriting

How to Create Interesting Moments Within Strong Chord Progressions

There are songwriters that like to use complex progressions that really take us on an intricate musical journey. But the fact is that most of the time, particularly in popular music genres (pop, country, folk, etc.), chord progressions are largely predictable. No songwriter I know likes to use the word “predictable” in describing any aspect […]