brian wilson arrangements

Scott McCormick discusses Brian Wilson’s production and arrangements with the M3 podcast

“Mentoring for the Modern Musician” podcast producers Adam and Michael Scharff caught up with musician/author/Disc Makers Blog contributor Scott McCormick to dig deeper into Scott’s three-part DM Blog series on the inimitable Brian Wilson. Here’s an excerpt from the conversation. Read More.


Get bluesy with Mixolydian and the Mixo-Dorian Blues

Study up on the Mixolydian Mode, queue up a nice Mixo chord progression, and you’ll see why guitar masters like Eddie Van Halen, Angus Young, and Duane Allman all love Mixo-Dorian Blues. Read the post.

Lydian mode

Lift ‘em up with the Lydian Mode

In music, a mode is a formula for creating a musical scale. The Ionian (major) formula is W–W–H–W–W–W–H. The Lydian formula (W–W–W–H–W–W–H) can give your melody or progression an uplifting and yearning feeling. Read the post.

Taylor Swift master rights

What can you learn from Taylor Swift’s master rights predicament?

Taylor Swift’s latest industry tussle raises lots of questions for music artists. Who’s right, who’s wrong, and most importantly, what can you learn so you can avoid having to fight for your master rights? Read the post.

mediant chord

Surprise ‘em with the major mediant chord

While the mediant (iii chord) isn’t as structurally integral as the tonic, dominant , or subdominant, employing it can provide an unexpected surprise that will make listeners’ ears perk up every time. Read the post.

Neapolitan chord

Use the zesty Neapolitan chord in your songs

A touch of exoticism could be all you need to lift your song up from the mundane. The flat-second, a.k.a. Neapolitan chord, can be just the ticket. Read the post.

songwriting tips from the beatles

Songwriting tips from the Beatles’ “Help!”

Few popular songs meld music, lyrics, and theme as potently as the Beatles’ 1965 hit single, “Help!” Here’s how they did it. Read the post.

Close to You

Fifth time’s the charm: The Carpenter’s smash hit, “Close to You”

Before and after the Carpenters scored a massive hit with “(They Long To Be) Close To You,” others tried, but they all seemed to miss what Richard Carpenter figured out: When you have a great melody, great lyrics, and a great singer — less is more.

suspended chords

Using suspended chords in your songwriting

Suspended chords offer more than just a frilly little something to add to your music. They work as substitution chords, they can smooth out chord progressions, and they can add tension to your music. Read the post.

smash hit Southern Cross CSN

How Stephen Stills turned an unreleased leftover into the smash hit “Southern Cross”

This is the second in a series that examines cover songs that went on to be huge hits, even though the original versions were mostly unknown. This post covers Crosby, Stills & Nash’s “Southern Cross.” Read the post.

hit song tainted love

Unlocking a hit song — Soft Cell’s “Tainted Love”

How did a forgotten 1965 B-side become a 1981 smash? “Tainted Love” had hidden elements that Soft Cell unlocked to turn it into an enduring (and often covered) hit song. Read the post.

two chords

Two chords can make a song

These songs from decades past show us that, really, more is less. Let’s explore the magic of the bVII-I progression and how two chords can make a song. Read the post.

one chord

Sometimes, one chord is all you need

While it might be difficult to keep a song interesting if you limit it to one chord, it can also help create tension, highlight your lyrics, or drive a hypnotic groove. Read the post.

augmented chords

Using augmented chords in your songs

Augmented chords can add drama and tension, as shown in these examples from popular songs from the ’60s through the ’80s. Read the post.

Nashville tuning

The magic of Nashville tuning

While Nashville tuning uses the same notes as a standard guitar tuning, used by itself and in layers with other guitars, this tuning can bring an articulate presence to a recording. Read the post.