Van Halen - Jump

What a Strong Chord Progression Does For Your Chorus

There are many ways to categorize chord progressions, but the best way system for songwriters is to classify them as being either fragile or strong. These two words, fragile and strong, pertain to the key of your song, and specifically refer to whether a progression makes the key very obvious or somewhat ambiguous. Getting melodies […]

Musical Energy

The Best Songs Often Sound Spontaneous

The more you read about The Beatles and how they put their songs together (from about “Rubber Soul” onward, at least), the more you get the sense that each component of the song was planned, calculated and thought about. Their first album, “Please Please Me,” was recorded quickly, mainly all on one day. But as […]

Microphone in music studio

Tips For Writing Great Song Melodies

Many songwriters feel uncomfortable writing songs by starting with a melody. To them, a melody-first songwriting process means sitting with a digital recorder and mindlessly humming some notes until a usable melody miraculously appears. Then you’ve got the task of adding chords to that new melody, and it all seems daunting. Trying to get a […]

Genesis - 1978

Changing Key from Introduction to First Verse

Changing the key of a song is not all that common. Most of the time a song will end in the same key that it started in. When a song does change key it’s often the case where the verse is in a minor key, and then switches to the relative major key for the […]

John Mellencamp

Verse Lyrics, Chorus Lyrics, and the Concept of Time

You likely know that verse lyrics tend to describe people, places and situations, and is the part of your song that tells the story. Sometimes it’s a literal story, and sometimes it’s just images that get placed together, helping to set up the chorus and the deeper emotions that happen there. Chorus lyrics don’t have […]

Guitar and keyboard

Making Strange Chord Progressions Work a Little Better

The first piece of advice I always give to songwriters who are contemplating using a complex, strange chord progression in their songs is this: Make sure the progression actually works, and isn’t just needlessly convoluted. The best chord progressions — even complex ones — are the ones that stay out of the way and support […]