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-guitarist

Dealing With Excessive Predictability In Your Songwriting

Predictability is not the horrible monster of songwriting. Even songs that sound unique, complex or startling are often following a template established by someone else’s song, with just a touch of innovation thrown in; it doesn’t take much innovation to make a song sound unique. If you like starting songs by working with a chord […]

singer-songwriter

Breaking the Logjam

If you’ve gotten partway through your next song, but you can’t seem to finish it, one of the best techniques for breaking the logjam is to take one aspect of your song and drastically change it. It can sound ridiculous at the time, but it can work. For example, if you’ve been working on something […]

Song energy

Song Energy Needs to Move Up and Down

When we think of the term musical energy, we might immediately think of loudness and tempo. But as a songwriter, you need to develop a slightly more sophisticated understanding of how musical energy works, and what it can do to make people want to listen to — and come back to — your songs. If you’re […]

Joni Mitchell

Creating Beauty Within a Song

Beauty is one of those song characteristics that is incredibly hard to define, but we seem to know it when we hear it. Not every great song is beautiful. That’s because as long as a song makes an emotional connection to the listener, it’s usually going to work. Therefore, whatever we might define as beauty becomes […]

Songwriting Inspiration

Being Guided and Influenced By Other Songs… a Slippery Slope?

When you’re writing a song, one of the best supplies of musical inspiration is your own work! As you come up with new ideas, you get excited and that excitement helps you create even more ideas. That’s normal, and the excitement you feel is what we’d otherwise call inspiration. It’s the worst-kept secret in the songwriting world […]