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. We’re going to start by transcribing the chorus melody, figuring out the key, and then using the key to find the chords. Read more.
One of the most important jobs I have as a teacher is to identify and share the common elements I observe in successful songs while steering students clear from the pitfalls in songs that fall short. If you want to learn how to write a country song, here are some of the biggest lyric pitfalls to avoid. Read more.
Over the years 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! Read more.
You’re writing a song, you’ve hit on a vocal melody you like and you’ve got a few chords, but you just can’t seem to finish the chord progression. You keep trying all the chords you know, but nothing seems to fit. After some frustration and failures, you put the idea aside, forget all about it, and another song bites the dust. Read more.
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. 9 ways to screw up your song demo: 1) Include a long intro, 2) Submit a track with crappy, cheap production, 3) Don’t read the tip sheet… Read more.
The ability to think creatively is a product of “divergent thinking.” That’s a term that refers to one’s knack for exploring several possible ideas or answers in the processing of information. Certainly to be a songwriter requires it, but the inability to compose songs should not be automatically interpreted as songwriter’s block. Read more.
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. We’ve got videos and a breakdown of some of this year’s nominees. Read more.
Just because 4/4 is an easy and popular time signature in which to write, it doesn’t mean it’s always the best choice for you and your music. Many highly successful songs have been written using time signatures that don’t strictly adhere to the standard one-and-TWO-and-three-and-FOUR-and vibe. Here are a handful of examples of music written in different time signatures — and tips on how playing with the meter of your own music can help you get it to the highest level. Read more.
In Part 2 of our interview, songwriter Ben Camp shares his perspectives on the art and craft of songwriting, including methods he uses to develop compelling song ideas. He expands on his thoughts about the importance of co-writing and why he believes it’s essential to build a network of talented collaborators while pointing out some of the common mistakes aspiring songwriters often make. Read more.
Ben Camp interview, Part 1. “Doubt is part of the creative process. Even people who are at the top of the songwriting game today struggle with the process. [One hit songwriter I know] has said that he’ll come up with 100 different melodies to find the one that sticks. So it’s essential to not be afraid to throw out those hundred until you hit on one that lights you up on the inside and you know, ‘Wow, that’s it!’” Read more.
Five For Fighting’s John Ondrasik exploded onto the music scene with the release of “Superman” in 2000. Having written thousands of songs in his youth, the public adoration of “Superman” stunned his mother – a way to actually make money songwriting and playing music! Ondrasik’s father was less surprised, recognizing he had dedicated 45,000 hours into honing his craft. Read more.
Originally from North Carolina, Byron Hill has been a professional songwriter in Nashville since 1978, with his songs generating more than 700 recordings, 77 RIAA certified Gold and Platinum awards, 10 ASCAP awards, and 31 US and Canadian top-ten chart hits. Hits Byron has written for major artists include “Pickin’ Up Strangers” (Johnny Lee), “Fool Hearted Memory” (George Strait), “The Pages Of My Mind” (Ray Charles), and “Born Country” (Alabama). Read more.
A soulful vocalist and innovative keyboardist, singer, songwriter, and producer Rachael Sage has become one of the busiest touring artists in independent music, performing 150+ dates a year with her band The Sequins throughout the US, UK, Europe, and Asia. Sage’s own MPress Records released her 10th album, Haunted By You in 2012. Read more.
Growing up in Lexington, KY, Kent Blazy became musically inspired when he heard Roger McGuinn playing “Mr. Tambourine Man.” By the mid-70s, Kent was band leader, playing guitar and touring with Canadian legend Ian Tyson. A first place win in a national songwriting contest persuaded him to move to Nashville in 1980, and in 1987, Kent was introduced to Garth Brooks. The first song Garth and Kent penned together was “If Tomorrow Never Comes,” which became their first #1 song. Read more.
You may not think it’s possible to write on demand. You may or may not believe you have a muse that sits in the back of your room when you are feeling the creative flow, and is on a lunch break when you’re not. Trust me, I’ve gone through all the possibilities of why I often feel like a magnet drawn to my piano and writer’s pad, and why at other times, I’d rather crawl into bed, clean my bathroom for the third time, or do my taxes before sitting at that bench with a pencil in hand. What gives? Don’t I have any control of this? Read more.