Simply Red - If You Don't Know Me By Now

What You Need to Know About the Rhythms of Your Melodies

Most of the time you probably don’t think a lot about the rhythms you use for your melodies. That’s because the rhythm is usually determined by the lyric. The words you use will tell you what the rhythms are going to be. Many songs live or die on the quality of its hook. “Hooks and […]

Eric Carmen

What Can You Really Learn From an Old Song?

From our standpoint here in 2021, it may be hard to hear the difference between a song written and recorded today, and one that was done, say, three years ago. Ten years ago? You start to hear some differences. And if you go back a few decades, to the 80s for example, there are lots […]

songwriter - guitarist

Too Much of a Good Thing

This post contains some additional thoughts on my previous post about motifs. As you know, a motif is a repeating figure (melodic, rhythmic, or any other musical fragment) that adds strength to the structure of a song. But it begs the question: is it possible for a song to feature too many repeating things? When is […]

Big Star - Thirteen

Writing Melodies to Match the Mood of Your Lyrics

Once in a while I look back in my blog archive just to remind myself of the kinds of things I was writing about a few years ago. I came across an analysis I did in 2013 of the song “Thirteen”, by Big Star, which they wrote and recorded in 1971. That’s a song that still […]

songwriter's challenges

Starting Songs: Building On that First Idea

A common stumbling block for songwriters is: how to continue a song once that initial song idea has been created. It can feel very discouraging, because often that first song idea happens easily, and you feel excited for what’s to come. And then… nothing. I wrote about this a week or so ago, and in […]

Neil Diamond

Taking a Close Look at a Song’s Pre-Chorus

If you’re looking for a song that has what amounts to being a textbook definition of a pre-chorus, that song would be Neil Diamond’s “Sweet Caroline.” The pre-chorus section (“Hands, touchin’ hands/ Reachin’ out,/touchin’ me, touchin’ you”) moves step-by-step higher while the instrumentation builds, the vocal style becomes edgier, and everything gets louder. Those are […]