songwriting advice

Songwriting: advice and insight on the craft of writing a song

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We’ve posted songwriting advice that covers music theory, children’s music, interviews with hit songwriters, excerpts from books, songwriter’s block, and a variety of other topics that relate to the craft of writing a song. We’ve collected them here – check ’em out!

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George Harrison’s songwriting brilliance (January 2017)
From his earliest work to his successful career as a solo artist and collaborator, the simplicity of George Harrison’s songwriting belies the brilliance of one of popular music’s great artists.

12 noteworthy posthumous record releases (January 2017)
Mozart not only had a new release, he technically has the biggest selling CD of 2016. We look at 12 notable posthumous record releases of original material.

The song worlds of three musical greats (December 2016)
We highlight Bruce Springsteen, Tom Waits, and Robyn Hitchcock, three artists who created their own song worlds in the framework of their music over the course of multiple albums and years.

Hit songwriting elements that make a song great (November 2016)
While this advice is focused on songwriters looking to land a song on a major label artist’s album, knowing some of the elements that go into hit songwriting can help you excel, whatever your musical ambition.

Every song has a story (October 2016)
You can find inspiration from anywhere – every song has a story, even if the song has nothing to do with the source of its inspiration.

Getting out of a creative rut (September 2016)
If your music career spans any length of time, there will be those inevitable periods when you find yourself in a creative rut. The challenge is knowing how to work your way out and get back to the business of making your art. These tips can help.

Creative strategies to keep your songwriting flowing (August 2016)
Sometimes you may need a prompt or a process to keep the creative juices flowing and get your critical mind out of the way. Here are three strategies to get your songwriting on track.

After The Beatles: Paul McCartney’s bass playing, Part II (July 2016)
Paul McCartney’s bass playing genius has never wavered, but his choices as a bass player post-Beatles show his focus was ever more on the song and serving the vocal melody.

Things I learned being a fan of David Bowie (July 2016)
David Bowie had a genius that set him apart, but his musical and artistic career provides a bounty of lessons we can all learn from and apply to our creation of art and music – and to our everyday lives.

Intensify your musical arrangements and solos with call and response (June 2016)
Whatever your genre, your solos and musical arrangements can come to life when you incorporate call and response between instruments, vocalists, and any combination you can think of.

The people who make music, Part I: Musicians, songwriters, and engineers (June 2016)
I divide people who make music into five categories: musicians, songwriters, engineers, artists, and producers. In this post we’ll look at the first three. Part II will explore the artists and producers.

A great solo can elevate your song (May 2016)
Whether it’s a virtuosic guitar, a transcendent piano, or a funky breakdown on bass, a great solo can add power and personality to songs in any genre.

Songwriting on a schedule: A tight timeline can give you great ideas (April 2016)
Limiting your songwriting time may seem counter-intuitive, but it can help fuel your creativity in interesting and unexpected ways.

The power of a simple musical arrangement (April 2016)
With the potential to invoke thousands of instruments and sounds at the touch of a button, sometimes using minimal instrumentation and a sparse musical arrangement provides maximum impact.

The creative genius of Paul McCartney’s bass lines (March 2016)
Paul McCartney’s bass lines are an integral part of the Beatles’ evolution from world-beating pop band to musical pioneers. We identify just what Paul did to make his parts stand out from what other bassists were doing at the time.

How to find the next chord in the progression when writing a song (March 2016)
For those times when you’re writing a song and can’t find the right chord to complete a progression, this technique – using applied music theory – will help you discover your best options and help you complete your song.

Music theory and “The Hills,” by The Weeknd (December 2015)
Knowing a little music theory can help you dissect your favorite songs and better understand how to write songs of your own. We break down “The Hills” by The Weeknd in this post.

Five lyric pitfalls to avoid when writing Country songs – or ANY songs! (November 2015)
Want to know how to write a country song? This Nashville songwriting teacher lists five pitfalls to avoid when writing songs for any genre.

Collaborating with another musician can boost your exposure (October 2015)
There are many benefits to collaborating with another musician, including creative growth, more press opportunities, and a chance for a whole lotta exposure.

Songwriting and a quick lesson in music theory (September 2015)
Music theory won’t dictate the correct chord progression or choices for your song; that’s what your ears are for! Instead, it’s there to help you with chord choices, melody decisions, ways to build vocal harmonies, and more.

9 things NOT to do with your next song demo (July 2015)
A song demo is trying to accomplish one thing: sell your song to the listener. While there’s no magic formula for rising to the top, these 9 tips will help you avoid sinking to the bottom of the pile.

Songwriter’s block: where does it come from? (June 2015)
Creativity comes from divergent thinking, and the stresses of work and family life can cause it to disappear and leave you with the dreaded songwriter’s block.

How to do children’s music right (March 2015)
The 2015 Grammy nominees give a lesson on how to create children’s music that treats kids with respect, doesn’t dumb down the music, and keeps things fun.

Don’t limit your songwriting to 4/4 time (September 2014)
Experimenting with different time signatures can give your songs a creative edge and lead to better songwriting – and we’ve got examples to prove it

Avoiding common songwriting obstacles (August 2014)
In this post, Ben Camp shares his perspectives on the art and craft of songwriting, including methods he uses to develop compelling song ideas.

The road to becoming a successful songwriter (August 2014)
Ben Camp’s road to becoming a successful songwriter was a winding one, and he advises that “today’s music industry is very fragmented, so the more angles you can come at a project with, the more likely you are to be successful.”

Writing, recording, and performing children’s music (February 2014)
We’ve got ten tips on how to succeed performing and writing children’s music from Grammy Award winner Jennifer Gasoi

Ask a songwriter: 5 questions for Five For Fighting’s John Ondrasik (January 2014)
Excerpted from our new guide, Songwriters on Songwriting, here are a few insights from hit singer/songwriter John Ondrasik.

Ask a songwriter: 5 questions for Byron Hill (January 2014)
Excerpted from our new guide, Songwriters on Songwriting, here are a few insights from hit songwriter Byron Hill.

Ask a songwriter: 5 questions for Rachael Sage (January 2014)
Excerpted from our new guide, Songwriters on Songwriting, here are a few insights from indie pioneer and innovative songwriter Rachael Sage.

Ask a songwriter: 5 questions for Kent Blazy (January 2014)
Excerpted from our new guide, Songwriters on Songwriting, here are a few insights from hit songwriter Kent Blazy.

A DIY Songwriting Workshop Idea (March 2013)
Start a songwriting music networking group and build your community of songwriters.

Thoughts on Writer’s Block From One Songwriter to Another (September 2012)
The idea that one day we may run out of things to write about or that we may just lose that gift is very real and, and very scary – especially if we make our livelihood as music creators.

Songwriting and writer’s block: 11 tips to help the songwriter get unstuck (August 2011)
What do you do when you can’t remember how to write a song? Here are tips from experienced songwriters to help you overcome writer’s block.

One thing a day for my songwriting journey (July 2011)
Breaking your music career goals into smaller tasks will make the impossible seem easy. Do one thing a day to promote your music career and you’ll be on the right path.

Image via ShutterStock.com.

Professional songwriters offer advice on how to write a great 
song

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