Shawn Mendes

Building a Sense of Anticipation in Your Melodies

Recently I wrote about the musical power that comes from starting progressions on a chord other than the tonic chord. By avoiding the tonic, the listener subconsciously wants to hear it, and so it creates a very powerful sense of musical energy: the listener is willing to wait to hear the tonic eventually happen. Songwriters […]

Band Improvising

Overcoming Songwriting Paralysis: Improvising Your Way Through the Tough Times

Every songwriter experiences “feeling stuck”. You get a good idea for a new song, but then you just don’t know where it should go from there. There is an expression — and you hear it a lot in the creative arts — that applies here: paralysis by analysis (or analysis paralysis). If you like starting songs by […]

Winter scene - Holiday classic

Can You Write a Holiday Classic? Start With a Family Classic

It seems that the songs that everyone really wants to hear during the Christmas season are the classics — the ones that have been around for the past 7 or 8 decades, or even longer. It begs the question: Can anyone write a new holiday tune that has a hope of taking its place along […]

Synthesizer player - Songwriter

Creating Melodies From Chord Progressions

Many songwriters like starting the process by working out the chords first. That’s because chords give us a strong sense of mood, and if you’re trying to generate lyrics, creating a mood is a good start. So you’ve got a chord progression to which you then add a rhythmic feel. With that partnership of chords […]

Pink - Funhouse

7 Steps For Writing a Well-Structured Song Lyric

A good lyric tells a story, whether that’s an actual “first this happened, then that happened” kind of lyric (like the stereotypical “A Boy Named Sue” – Johnny Cash), or whether the story happens indirectly, and we piece the details together, like Pink’s “Funhouse” (Pink, Tony Kanal, Jimmy Harry). A lyric where the story is […]

Guitar and music paper - Songwriting

Why Simplicity Works So Well In Songwriting

It’s something you hear a lot with regard to songwriting, but with other creative arts as well: Simplicity is a virtue. Don’t get me wrong – I love complexity in music, and I always have. But once in a while I’m reminded of how powerful a song can be when: melodic lines are clear chords […]