Whose Melody Is It?

Q: “After I write a song, how do I make sure I’m not copying someone else’s melody? Sometimes I think I’ve heard it before but I’m not sure.”

A: That’s a good question! If the melody sounds familiar to you and it’s a nagging feeling that won’t go away, try playing it for friends to see if anyone recognizes it. That’s what Paul McCartney did with the melody of “Yesterday.” Since it came to him easily, he was suspicious that he might have been re-creating a melody he had heard before. Continue reading “Whose Melody Is It?”

Build Your Song the ‘Hard Hat’ Way

by Robin Frederick

Let’s say that you’ve decided to build a house. You’ve gathered a big pile of lumber and you’ve got  a hammer and some nails. Good, that’s a start! But if that’s ALL you have, your house is probably going to end up looking very strange. Without a saw, a screwdriver, a level, and the rest of the homebuilder’s toolbox, your house will look very odd indeed. If you try to sell this house, most buyers won’t be interested. For some reason, they seem to like solid construction, square windows, and a door that works.

It’s the same with songs. Your ideas, creativity, and imagination are the raw material from which you’ll build your song. But if you don’t have all the tools you need, your song is likely to end up sounding odd or uninteresting or so strange that listeners can’t find their way in. Songwriting tools can help you create a song that works for listeners, helping them feel the emotion, understand the situation, and identify with the singer. At the same time, the raw material you start with will ensure that the song is YOUR song and  expresses what YOU feel.  Continue reading “Build Your Song the ‘Hard Hat’ Way”

Inspiration to Finished Song

Q: “I find that I have an easy time finding a first verse and chorus (or rather, it finds me) but I’ll have trouble coming up with two more verses or a verse and bridge. The lyrics tend to sound forced and I feel trapped. Is that just how it goes when you’re trying to stick to a form?”

A: For a lot of songwriters, this is how a song gets started. The first verse or chorus of a song may come to you full-blown, music and lyrics together. But what happens next? That rush of inspiration has exhausted itself and now you have to write more verse lyrics and, harder still, they have to fit your existing melody.

Continue reading “Inspiration to Finished Song”

Write Your Song in a Genre

Most of the time, when you start writing a song, you’re thinking about what you’re feeling and what you want to say, and that’s the best way to approach your songwriting. But by keeping a little corner of your brain focused on the genre you want to write in, you can add an extra edge to your song that will help you find an audience for it down the road, and possibly a music publisher or record label.

Like ice cream, songs come in different flavors: strawberry, chocolate, peach, and rocky road. And, like ice cream flavors, there are very real differences between the four mainstream music genres — Country, Pop, Rock, and R&B/Soul. Each one appeals to a different audience.

When listeners tune into a radio station that plays Country music, they expect to hear a range of songs that share a certain sound. Jazz stations play something that sounds different from the Country music station. Listeners who tune in to a Jazz station are expecting to hear the kinds of chords, melodies, and lyrics that are characteristic of today’s Jazz genre. If they get a Country song instead, they won’t be happy! Radio stations need to keep listeners satisfied if they want them to stick around. Continue reading “Write Your Song in a Genre”