Songwriter with guitar

SECRETS OF SONGWRITING

In the music industry, there’s not a lot of interest in a one-off. If sometime in the past you wrote a great song, but you haven’t been able to follow it up with something similarly excellent, industry folks will be skeptical when you metaphorically come knocking.

How to Harmonize a Melody

Have a  great melody, but stuck at the “how to add chords to it” stage? “How To Harmonize a Melody” shows you, step-by-step and with sound samples, how it’s done, with suggestions for chord substitutions that might work as well. It’s part of “The Essential Secrets of Songwriting” 10-eBook Bundle.

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So how do you become more consistent? How do you make sure that that one great song can be followed up by something similarly great. And then another?

Consistent excellence is hard in the creative arts because everything you do needs to be unique. So following up one great song with another great one means that you must write something entirely different but still appealing to your target audience, and do that right away. Not easy!

If you’re trying to develop your songwriting skills to the point where most of the music you write is excellent in some way, here are some tips to consider:

  1. Write fragments. Don’t be afraid to spend your day writing short fragments of songs. Bits of lyric that sound enticing, a short hook, a phrase, a part of a verse… putting them together can come later. Get your imagination working for you!
  2. Make songwriting a daily activity. Every day, if possible, pick up your guitar and see what happens. Staying “in the zone” means making songwriting a habit, and that’s always a good thing.
  3. Don’t forget to take breaks. Yes, it’s a daily activity, but any time you feel frustration setting in means you’ve likely spent too much time on one songwriting activity. That’s the beginning of a bout with writer’s block.
  4. Take entire days off. There are times when it’s good to not feel that you must get something written. Maybe it’s a day with family, hanging out with friends, or otherwise just getting away. Giving your musical brain some time off is occasionally necessary.
  5. Record demos frequently. By “demo” I simply mean pick up your guitar, or sit at a keyboard, and do a rough recording for yourself. This allows you to hear your songs, or song fragments, from a listener’s point of view, and that can help you develop ideas for what to do next.
  6. Find other songwriters you can collaborate with. Sometimes sitting down with someone else is a great way to explore different parts of your musical brain. Make sure that whoever you partner up with is someone you can easily work with. Don’t add frustration to your frustration!
  7. Explore different styles and genres. Every songwriter will favour one or two genres, but by exploring different compositional styles you increase the likelihood that you’ll write something unique, and gives you a better shot at being consistently excellent. Just think of how different “Penny Lane”, “When I’m Sixty-Four”, “Hey Jude!” and “Back in the U.S.S.R.” are from each other!

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Gary EwerWritten by Gary Ewer. Follow Gary on Twitter. Hooks & Riffs“Hooks and Riffs: How They Grab Attention, Make Songs Memorable, and Build Your Fan Base” shows you how a good hook can make the difference between songwriting success and failure. With great examples from pop music history.

Written by Gary Ewer. Follow on Twitter.

“The Essential Secrets of Songwriting” 10-eBook Bundle

Thousands of songwriters have been using “The Essential Secrets of Songwriting” 10-eBook Bundle to polish their songwriting skills and raise their level of excellence. Right now, get a free copy of “Use Your Words! Developing a Lyrics-First Songwriting Process” when you buy the Bundle.Buy the Bundle ($37) or Read MoreVIEW the TABLE OF CONTENTSPosted in songwriting.

music, photography rule of thirds

GARY EWER BLOG – Applying the Rule of Thirds to Songwriting

When you talk about thirds to a musician, you’re usually talking about the space between two notes, like C to E, or D to F, and so on. In photography, the so-called “rule of thirds” is completely different: it refers to dividing an image into thirds using two vertical lines and two horizontal lines.


“The Essential Secrets of Songwriting” 10-eBook Bundle

If you’re ready to take your songwriting to its highest level possible, you need “The Essential Secrets of Songwriting 10-eBook Bundle.” Get the manuals that thousands of songwriters are using.Buy the Bundle ($37) or Read MoreVIEW the TABLE OF CONTE

Buy the Bundle ($37) or Read More

VIEW the TABLE OF CONTENTS

The theory is that objects that are a point of focus should be centred on one of the spots where the lines intersect, like in this image from the Photography Mad website:

Obviously, there’s no relation between the rule of thirds in photography, and thirds as we usually discuss them in music. But it got me thinking that in songwriting, as well as other kinds of musical composition, we also observe a kind of rule that’s similar to the rule of thirds.

Photographers are always thinking about the point of focus in a picture when they consider a photo’s composition, and that’s where the rule of thirds becomes tremendously important. By offsetting the butterfly in the photo above, it provides a sense of creative tension that encourages the eye to move, and the viewer to consider how the point of focus interacts with other aspects of the photo.

I won’t say more about it than that, as I am not a photographer. But in music, we also deal with a song’s point of focus, and in fact, most songs are a conglomeration of several points of focus. Some examples that might appear in a song:

  1. A song’s climactic high point (usually in the chorus melody).
  2. A crucial “other shoe dropping” moment in the lyric.
  3. A loudest moment in a song (either in the chorus, or perhaps during a song’s bridge.)
  4. A dramatic moment other than a climactic high point. (Like the scream at the end of the instrumental break in The Who’s “Won’t Get Fooled Again“)

In most songs, one point of focus usually takes precedence over all others. Most verses, for example, will have a moment that sounds somewhat climactic, but the climactic moment that occurs in the chorus will usually supersede the verse’s moment.

And you’ll notice that, just as in photography, the climactic moment sounds better and more interesting if it’s not in the middle of the chorus, but offset, coming in more toward the beginning of the chorus, as in Lennon & McCartney’s “She Loves You”, or toward the end, as in the refrain of Dylan’s “The Times They Are A-Changin’”.

By avoiding perfect symmetry in musical composition, we give the impression that other interesting things have and will happen in a song, but we can’t be sure during a first listening exactly when.

PLEASE CONTINUE READING

songwriter

n my last post, “Finding Your Best Starting Point”, I offered suggestions for how to build a songwriting process when you’ve got a small fragment of music as your starting point. One of those fragments might be a bit of lyric. For many songwriters, starting the process with lyrics can yield great results.

There are several advantages to creating as much of your lyric as possible before working out the music that will accompany it. For instance:


Lyrics create a mood
 because it lays out the story.Lyrics can imply melodic shape by way of the pulse of the words.Lyrics-first means you can put the magnifying glass on the words without the possible clutter from other song elements.Lyrics can imply the kinds of chords you might use because of the mood they describe.Lyrics can give you great rhythm ideas for your melody and instrumental accompaniment, patterns that come from the rhythms of the words.

And there are probably many other ways in which starting a song with the lyrics can be beneficial. When people look back on a songwriter’s personal catalog of songs, lyrics pay a huge role in a possible legacy. Songs with powerful lyrics have much longer staying power.

There’s a lot to be said about how to do a lyrics-first songwriting process that can’t be covered in a blog post. I’ve written an eBook about it, “Use Your Words! Developing a Lyrics-First Songwriting Process” that I offer free to purchasers of “The Essential Secrets of Songwriting 10-eBook Bundle.”

The most important thing to remember when putting your lyrics front & centre is this: great lyrics are not necessarily great poetry. The best lyrics have a casual, conversational style, using words one might use in everyday conversation.

The point of a good lyric, whether you’ve started with words, or written an entire instrumental to which you then add words, is to touch the emotional soul of the listener. Good songs are about feelings, and the words you use are one of the best ways you have to generate those feelings within the audience.

Gary Ewer

Written by Gary Ewer. Follow Gary on Twitter.

Fix Your Songwriting Problems - NOW

Time to fix what’s ailing your songs. Read “Fix Your Songwriting Problems – NOW!” – It’s part of “The Essential Secrets of Songwriting 10-eBook Bundle” – Or get it separately.

Gary Ewer
Published on Jan 16, 2019

See Gary Ewer’s songwriting ebooks: http://www.secretsofsongwriting.com/p…. And check out “The Essential Secrets of Songwriting” blog at http://www.secretsofsongwriting.com

If you check out “Greatest Songs Ever” lists, you’ll almost always notice that the majority of the songs are there, at least in part, because of their excellent lyrics. In this video, we take a look at five characteristics of what makes a lyric great. You’ll learn about style of writing, emotional content, imagery, and much more. If you feel inspired to take your lyric writing to a higher level, start with the basics as described here in this video.

If you’re still struggling with the fact that all your songs sound similar, the first step in dealing with it might be not to worry: a bit of similarity is not necessarily something that needs to be avoided.

After all, if you listen to any hit group, you’re going to notice at least some similarities, and as listeners we kind of like that. The problem is excessive similarity, when every song seems to be almost a copy of the previous one.

If you struggle at the lyric-writing stage of songwriting, you need to read “Use Your Words! Developing a Lyrics-First Songwriting Process.” Right now, it’s FREE with your purchase of “The Essential Secrets of Songwriting 10-eBook Bundle”

It’s not just the melodies that start to sound the same. You notice that many aspects of your songs are too alike:

PLEASE CONTINUE READING

Gary Ewer

Written by Gary Ewer. Follow Gary on Twitter.

“The Essential Secrets of Songwriting” 10-eBook Bundle

The perfect combination: “The Essential Secrets of Songwriting 10-eBook Bundle” and a Study Guide! Dig into the songwriting manuals that thousands of songwriters are using to polish their technique, complete with a study guide to show you how to progress through the materials. Comes with an 11th FREE ebook: “Use Your Words! Developing a Lyrics-First Songwriting Process”

Gary Ewer
Published on Jan 16, 2019

See Gary Ewer’s songwriting ebooks: http://www.secretsofsongwriting.com/p….

And check out “The Essential Secrets of Songwriting” blog at http://www.secretsofsongwriting.com

If you check out “Greatest Songs Ever” lists, you’ll almost always notice that the majority of the songs are there, at least in part, because of their excellent lyrics. In this video, we take a look at five characteristics of what makes a lyric great. You’ll learn about style of writing, emotional content, imagery, and much more. If you feel inspired to take your lyric writing to a higher level, start with the basics as described here in this video.

Beginner songwriter tuning guitar

The love of music is a natural part of being human. For many, loving music means listening to it, dancing to it, singing or playing it.

For others — many readers of this blog would fall into this category — it’s not enough to enjoy someone else’s music; they get enjoyment out of creating their own.

How do you know if you’re a songwriter? Let’s say you’ve come up with a catchy chord progression that you like, or perhaps a bit of melody with lyrics that seem to work. Does that automatically mean that you’ve got the makings of being a songwriter?

PLEASE CONTINUE READING


Signals Music Studio

Gary Ewer

Published on Jan 16, 2019

See Gary Ewer’s songwriting ebooks: http://www.secretsofsongwriting.com/p…. And check out “The Essential Secrets of Songwriting” blog at http://www.secretsofsongwriting.com

If you check out “Greatest Songs Ever” lists, you’ll almost always notice that the majority of the songs are there, at least in part, because of their excellent lyrics. In this video, we take a look at five characteristics of what makes a lyric great. You’ll learn about style of writing, emotional content, imagery, and much more. If you feel inspired to take your lyric writing to a higher level, start with the basics as described here in this video.

Lyrics Workshop

January 17, 2019


Gary Ewer
Published on Mar 29, 2018

A quick description of the free Songwriter’s Checklist, written by Gary Ewer. Download a free copy of The Songwriter’s checklist here: http://www.secretsofsongwriting.com/s… To see and purchase Gary’s other songwriting eBooks, visit: http://www.secretsofsongwriting.com/p…

 

 

Published on Aug 30, 2016

Download Your Free Songwriting Handbook Now: https://berkonl.in/2v4qUyj Earn Your Songwriting Degree Online with Berklee: https://berkonl.in/2w6KwPi In this free songwriting tutorial filmed at the 2016 ASCAP Expo, Berklee Online songwriting instructor Neil Diercks offers tips for creating different types and layers of hooks that will make your songs memorable and impactful in the industry. About Berklee Online: Berklee Online is the continuing education division of Berklee College of Music, delivering online access to Berklee’s acclaimed curriculum from anywhere in the world, offering online courses, certificate programs, and degree programs. Call, text, or email an Academic Advisor today: 1-866-BERKLEE (US) 1-617-747-2146 (international callers) advisors@online.berklee.edu http://www.facebook.com/BerkleeOnline http://www.twitter.com/BerkleeOnline http://www.instagram.com/berkleeonline/ About Neil Diercks: Neil Diercks is a Los Angeles-based songwriter, song coach, and musician. He served for many years in various capacities at Warner/Chappell Music, Inc., in Nashville, beginning as an intern and eventually becoming Manager of A&R Activities. It was within this role that he worked with hit songwriters including Gary Burr, Steve Bogard, Stephony Smith, Jeff Stevens, and Victoria Shaw, who penned hits for artists such as Tim McGraw, Garth Brooks, George Strait, Trisha Yearwood, Faith Hill, Ricky Martin, and Christina Aguilera. Neil is a Magna Cum Laude graduate of Berklee College of Music, where he studied songwriting, voice, and music business, and went on to serve on the Board of Trustees for three years. He has lectured and led songwriting workshops internationally, and has won several awards for his teaching, including the UPCEA Excellence in Teaching award (2015); the Pearson Excellence In Online Teaching award (2015); The Berklee College of Music Distinguished Faculty Award for Berklee Online (2016). He currently collaborates with songwriters and artists in Los Angeles and around the globe.

 

 

Published on Jul 30, 2017

 

 

 

Published on Mar 29, 2018

A quick description of the free Songwriter’s Checklist, written by Gary Ewer. Download a free copy of The Songwriter’s checklist here: http://www.secretsofsongwriting.com/s… To see and purchase Gary’s other songwriting eBooks, visit: http://www.secretsofsongwriting.com/p…

 

Nickelback

Five Songwriting Ponderables

Do you ever find that when you’re talking to other musicians about music in general, there’s a list of “the things you’re most likely to say” guiding your conversations?

Everyone has their big issues in music. Their pet peeves. Their guiding principles. Their “why do people think this way!?” kind of rants.

 

PLEASE CONTINUE READING

Thanks to   https://www.secretsofsongwriting.com/2018/06/14/five-songwriting-ponderables/

 

Published on Aug 6, 2017

Get the Cheat Sheet PDF for these exercises: http://bit.ly/LyricExerciseCheatSheet 1:14 – Exercise 1: Word Association 4:51 – Exercise 2: Ghost Writer 8:46 – Exercise 3: Memory Lane 12:27 – Exercise 4: Stream of Conciousness 16:11 – Exercise 5: Rhyme It! 19:49 – Exercise 6: Writing Prompts 23:26 – Exercise 7: Picture This 27:14 – Exercise 8: Rhyme Scheme 30:54 – Exercise 9: Another Point of View 34:56 – Exercise 10: The Suitcase SUBSCRIBE FOR MORE SONGWRITING TIPS! 10 Songwriting Tips for Beginner’s: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=fXZfp… 10 MORE Songwriting Tips for Beginners: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=6Ur9y… 10 Lyric Writing Tips for Beginners: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=owNbr… Top 10 Apps for Songwriters: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=DsmW4… Get my new Songwriting E-Book for just $3.99: http://smarturl.it/MotivationalMethods Songwriting Quick Tips Series: https://www.youtube.com/playlist?list… TAKE PART IN MY 10 SONGS CHALLENGE: http://bit.ly/10SongsChallenge Take part in monthly One-on-One Songwriting Workshops with me through Patreon! – http://bit.ly/EmmaPatreon My new album on iTunes ► http://smarturl.it/BRAVEiTunesPreOrder Spotify ► http://smarturl.it/BRAVESpotifyPreSave Google Play ► http://smarturl.it/BRAVEAmazonPreOrder Amazon ► http://smarturl.it/BRAVEGPlayPreOrder

 

 

 

Published on Dec 7, 2017

Download Your Free Songwriting Handbook Now: https://berkonl.in/2v4qUyj Earn Your Songwriting Degree Online with Berklee: https://berkonl.in/2w6KwPi Alicia Bognanno is the singer, songwriter, and guitarist of the band Bully, which she formed in Nashville in 2013. Bully released their second album, Losing (Sub Pop), in October 2017, and despite the self-deprecating title, the band have catapulted beyond a sophomore slump, earning accolades from the likes of NME, Rolling Stone, and Pitchfork. On this edition of the Berklee Online: Songwriting series, Bognanno discusses writing vulnerable lyrics, sequencing for live shows and albums, collaborative possibilities with Courtney Barnett and/or Kim Deal, how she writes a lead guitar part, how she finds harmonies to fit the screaming melodies that define Bully, and more. Pat Healy is Senior Writer/Editor for Berklee Online. He is also the host of Berklee Online’s popular podcast, Music Is My Life. Prior to Berklee, he was the Music Editor for Metro Newspapers. He has interviewed hundreds of musicians, and written about music for Pitchfork, Spin, Paste, MOJO, the Boston Globe, and many other publications. Berklee Online LIVE is a 30-minute interview series featuring discussions with extraordinary musicians and music industry insiders. Viewers have the opportunity to ask questions of guests by posting the hashtag #BerkleeOnlineLIVE on social media. To learn more about upcoming events in the Berklee Online LIVE series, visit https://berkonl.in/2vmqBym About Berklee Online: Berklee Online is the continuing education division of Berklee College of Music, delivering online access to Berklee’s acclaimed curriculum from anywhere in the world, offering online courses, certificate programs, and degree programs. Contact an Academic Advisor today: 1-866-BERKLEE (US) 1-617-747-2146 (international callers) advisors@online.berklee.edu http://www.facebook.com/BerkleeOnline http://www.twitter.com/BerkleeOnline http://www.instagram.com/berkleeonline/ Alicia Bognanno: Berklee Online LIVE | Songwriting | Q&A | 2017 | Berklee Online

 

 

Published on Dec 9, 2015

In this video excerpt from a lecture at Berklee College of Music, David Penn, Founder and Editor-In-Chief of Hit Songs Deconstructed, discusses some of the most effective contemporary songwriting techniques. Focusing on songs that landed in the Billboard Hot 100 Top 10 during the second quarter of 2015, trending techniques are illustrated through graphs, charts and audio examples.

 

 

 

You’ll notice that when you’ve got a melody,

the notes of that melody imply the chords you’re likely to use.

That’s not to say that you’ve got no choice in the matter, of course.

For every chord you might use,

there is a list of chords that could serve as substitutes.

via Choosing the Chords That Work With Your Melody — The Essential Secrets of Songwriting