When you’re constructing a song, think of it in relation to the human body. You build the skeleton first, which can be a melody, and develop your song from there. Read the post.
Power chords might not be chords, but they’re powerful intervals — especially when mixed with distortion. Read the post.
A song can take you on a journey, and including a key change — or modulation — can produce various emotional effects, from brightening the mood to creating a sense of unease. Read the post.
The first of a two-part series explores how taking time to learn another instrument will help you become stronger at your first instrument and improve your songwriting chops. Read the post.
Strategies that involve focused listening and practice are key to learning new material quickly, and looking closely at song structure can lessen the amount of time it takes you to get from first listen to a strong, quality performance. Read the post.
If you’re in a situation where you have to learn lots of new music in a very short time, these tips can help you develop a strategy so you can tackle the task and perform with confidence. Read the post.
Borrowed chords (chords “borrowed” from a key’s parallel minor) are commonly used in music influenced by the blues, including rock, jazz, R&B, even country and folk. Today we’ll focus on the flat-six chord. Read the post.
Sixth chords have an inherent lack of identity and purpose that can be riveting — a sixth chord can provide ambiguity, set curiously dark moods, and add a layer of complexity to your music. Read More.
Not only does “Good Vibrations” provide a structural template for Smile, it also gives the album its tonal language. Nearly every song or song section is written in one of “Good Vibrations” chords. Read More.
To write a great melody, throw in a dramatic flourish to enhance a moment, but sing the way people speak: It sounds better and makes a melody more memorable. Read More.
While I can’t give you an exact recipe for how to write a great melody, I can point out some common traits great melodies have to help improve your melodic skills. Read More.
We look at recurring songwriting and chord techniques Brian Wilson used to create some of the most beloved and enduring songs in 20th century popular music. Read More.
There are many diverse kinds of ninth chords, and they are used in different ways. In this post, we’ll explore different kinds of ninth chords, how to use them, and provide examples of their use in popular music. Read More.
Jazz musicians know and integrate substitution chords (also known as chord substitution or reharmonization) on a regular basis, but musicians who play other genres of music can also employ this concept to great effect. Read More.
There’s no “formula” to write a great chorus or hook, but these techniques can spark ideas to write, rework, or critique your own songs. Read More.