Category Archives: SongWriting

Music Documentary: The Beatles and The Making of Sgt. Pepper’s Lonely Hearts Club Band

If you want to be a great songwriter, youHAVE to study the Beatles. Basically every piece of music written after has their melodic fingerprints all over it. This album has everything. From the simplest, enjoyable pop to Indian bhangra beats to being the concept album of concept albums.

yea the audio is a bit out of sync with the speaking, but who cares, it’s The Beatles !

Sgt. Pepper’s Lonely Hearts Club Band deserves to be analyzed over and over again.

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The Ten Most Important Themes For SongWriting

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 Songs about relationships rule the charts.

I love you. Now we’re done. Now I lost you. Im so lonely. I cheated on my girlfriend. She cheated on me. We get back together. We break up again. Im never giving this up.

People LOVE drama. They’re addicted to it.  Whether it’s the fun happy times or the endless aching, people need to feel something. If you want to level up your songwriting, then you need to understand why people listen and respond to certain songs.

We’re all natural voyeurs. Curious of everything that is going in our lives and other people’s lives. It’s just human nature.

Being a songwriter, we need to write about the moments that offer change and insight.

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What Makes The Song So Great – Florida Georgia Line “Cruise” ft. Nelly

I gotta admit. Country is growing on me. With The Voice, the summertime, the pretty southern girls, that Nashville sound is slowly starting to find itself in my spotify playlists. Driving is one of my favorite activities. Especially if I am lucky enough to be driving with a pretty girl. (Which doesn’t happen that often…. haha!) Just an open road wind blowing. This song is about great summer times.

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Walking Bass Lesson – Beginner #1 – by Scott Devine

I’ve been really focusing on studying the relationship between the drums and the bass. Scott Devine has done a really good job of breaking down and teaching a walking bass line using the II V I of C. To be honest Im having a bit of hard time following that ride with my Logic Express. but that’s what the video replay button is for 🙂

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What Makes The Song So Great ? – Blurred Lines by Robin Thicke

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BPM: 120
Writer – Robin Thicke, Pharrell Williams , Clifford Harris Jr.
Producer – Pharrell Williams

Damn, this track is sexy. It’s like a mixture of Prince and Marvin Gaye.  Robin Thicke has clarified that the title Blurred Lines is referring to the whole good girl/bad girl complex. This song is pretty much about how a girl really wants crazy wild sex.

The beat is very classic Neptunes sounding. like a minimal version of Nelly’s Hot In Herre or Justin Timberlake’s Senorita. A very dancey blend of rap r&b. That bass line is just really infectious and does a great job of moving the body. All the instruments are very organic and live. It’s really minimal, with a beefed up chorus to fill in the sound.

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What Makes The Song Great ? – It’s Tricky – Run DMC

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BPM : 127
Producers – Rick Rubin, Run-DMC
Writers – Joseph Simmons, Darryl McDaniels

Run DMC was just all about not giving a fuck. Raw knuckled, this track forces your face to go into that scowl and just start strutting. Easily recognizable,  It’s been used for a ton of movies like Can’t Hardly Wait, Road Trip, The Hot Chick, Malibu’s Wanted, etc. The song is just such an attitude changer.

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Billboard Hot 100 June 2nd – June 9th 2013

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(1)Macklemore & Ryan Lewis – Can’t Hold Us ft. Ray Dalton
(2) Pink – Just Give Me A Reason ft. Nate Ruess
(3) Justin Timberlake – Mirrors
(4) Daft Punk – Get Lucky ft. Pharrell
(5) Florida Georgia Line – Cruise ft. Nelly
(6) Selena Gomez – Come & Get It
(7) Icona Pop – I Love It ft. Charli XCX
(8) Rihanna – Stay ft. Mikky Ekko
(9) Imagine Dragons – Radioactive
(10) Bruno Mars – When I Was Your Man

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4 Points Of Views That Will Supercharge Your Lyrics

4 points of view

Lyrics are what make or break a song. It is what helps you create that authentic connection with your crowd. The words you write are the steak in the four course meal.  What really helps give the song you’re writing some direction is knowing whose point of view the song is coming from. From this, you can write the verses that best expresses the way you or this person feels. There are 4 different types.

First person to another

By far, this is the most popular style of song to write in. Just take a look at the Billboard charts and you’ll see a lot of effective examples that utilize this type of point of view. Bruno Mars When I Was Your Man, Selena Gomez, Come & Get It, Justin Timberlake’s Mirror. A lot of rap songs are from this point of view as well. Mostly toward haters and doubters and hoes, but you get the point. It’s really effective because the audience will fill in their own meaning for whoever you’re writing about it, allowing them to really make a connection. Some of the love songs written in this style are either about success stories or unrequited love. Kendrick Lamar’s “Sing About Me, Im Dying Of Thirst” is a really moving example of this. Eminem’s “Stan”  is another,

First person about another person

You ever vent to your friends about someone you’re crushing on. That’s what this style of writing does. It’s like you’re telling your best friend about someone else. And it’s very cathartic. A lot of Weezer songs are in this style. “No One Else” “Butterfly”.  Drake’s “HYFR” is also another good example.

In first person, plural together

Now this style stresses the “we” part of where the emotions are coming from. A lot of duets are written with this style. Pink’s song with Nate Ruess, Just Give Me A Reason, Rihanna’s duet with Mikky Ekko, Stay. A lot of hip hop posse cuts are written with “the clique” in mind too. Rick Ross’s Stay Schemin comes to mind. Some other hip hop examples are SugarHillGang’s “Rapper’s Delight”  and Atmosphere’s “Crewed Up”.

Third person narrative

With this style, you’re expressing “she did this or this happened to him.” It takes a lot of storytelling discipline to write verses from this point of view. You’ll be using a lot of “he, she” pronouns. I like to pretend that Im telling my friends about a certain event. Again, just do your best to make the song sound like you’re having a conversation. There’s a ton of Beatles songs that use the the third person narrative. Ob la di, Eleanor Rigby, etc. Lil Wayne’s Love Me. Slick Rick’s Children Story.

One of the most important things to keep in mind when writing lyrics is to be straightforward and honest. Get right to the point and be genuine about it. Remember where you, or your characters are coming from. From the very first word, make sure everyone stays in line with their emotions. Always review your work.

SongWriting Exercise

Come up with a list of songs that coming from each point of view. Examine what makes you like the song.

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What Makes The Song So Great – “22” by Taylor Swift

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Have you guys ever listened to a Taylor Swift sing live with her and just an acoustic guitar. Her voice is so smooth and on-point. And really effortless. This song is written for the summer. The theme of the song is having fun. And convincing a special someone that it’s ok to be careless for that night.

Beats – I really like that acoustic intro. Always the standard four on the floor kick thump for the verse.  Then for the chorus, it does the standard pop rock with the kick on the upbeat. Mad props to hooktheory.com for the chord breakdown. The song is in the key of G Major. It goes I V IV vi V IV V IV.  Really take notice on the interval leaps she uses for the chorus melody. Really dancey with the synth washes on the pre-chorus and the chorus.  In both verses, take note of the instrumental build up that occurs. It’s pretty minimal in the beginning, then a second acoustic guitar comes in. Then that white noise sweep right before it goes into the pre-chorus.

Speaking of that white noise, I’ve really been focusing on learning and adding that to my beat game.

Lyrics – I’ve been really paying attention to the syllable count of the songs I like listening to. It feels like one of those nights.  That’s seven syllables. You don’t know about me. Six syllables.  The lyrics do a really good job of conveying Taylor Swift checking out a guy and all the stuff that goes in a girl’s head. The verses feel like it’s her giving reasons to be carefree while the chorus is her inviting the guy to dance. Making it a good contrast. The chorus does a good job of connecting with the audience because we always have that one person we want to dance with.  Tension and conflict are expressed by the fact that the special someone Taylor Swift is talking about doesn’t know her yet

The title itself is pretty catchy, because of the alliteration built into it.  And the video showcases her friends in real-life. Just them having fun. So yes, if you want to write and learn about a summer hit, this is a song to definitely study.

SongWriting Exercise: What are some settings for a summer song to take place?

Taylor Swift – 22

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What Makes The Song Song So Great? – Rihanna – Stay ft. Mikky Ekko

BPM: 112
Writer: Mikky Ekko Justin Parker
Producer: Mikky Ekko ·  Kuk Harrell, Elof Loelv, Justin Parker

Another exceptional track from the songstress, Rihanna. A very tender and gentle ballad.  It’s always very healthy to take risks and do something different for a change. Rihanna’s had A LOT of hits, but this is her first true ballad. It really showcases her compelling vocal talent.

Beat –  Piano ballads always do an effective job of expressing themes of love. This is a pretty straightforward intro verse chorus verse chorus bridge chorus structure. Sometimes less is more.  Always pay attention to the contrast of the verse and the chorus. When she sings  the melody for the word “stay” Rihanna really delivers that line like she means it.  The white noise effect is used really well towards the last few seconds of the song.

Lyrics – The song starts out by comparing love to a fever. That’s keeping it real. The lyrics do a great job of conveying how Rihanna can’t get over her love. Also, pay attention to how conversational the lyrics of the hook are.  She can’t explain what it is about her lover, and she can’t control it.  I like how both Rihanna and Mikky’s verses end the same way.

SongWriting Exercise: With nothing but a piano, take some lyrics about a lost love and write about it.

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