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Free and complete songwriting guide on how to write a song, song structure, songwriting tips, how to write a hit song, song lyrics, vocal techniques, singing tips, lyric writing, song intro tips and a lot more.

Your own personal songwriting course.


Index of Songwriting articles listed on this page

1)  SONG STRUCTURE- in layman's terms Part 1  

2)  Sing it like you mean it  

3)  Song Intro Ideas    

4)  Every Song Tells a Story

5)  How To Write A Song  

6)  Write Songs the Music Industry Wants to Hear  

7)   Right Balance of Innovation & Predictability

8)  How to Develop a Good Ear  

9)  Seven Basic Song-writing Errors  

10)  Adding Chords to a Melody

11)  Making Music: Song-writing Basics  

12)  How to Write a Chorus  

13)  Writer's Web Resources 

14)  Overcome the Lyric Writing Hurdles  

15)  So, You Want To Collaborate?

16)  Creating the Perfect Structure for Your Song 


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SONG STRUCTURE- in layman's terms Part 1

                by Art Rock

There are several different styles of song forms or song structures that are the most popular used in Songwriting today.
The majority of songs written today, especially Pop and Rock songs follow a song structure that evolved from the Rondo form, which has been around for hundreds  of years. They revolve around three different basic ideas or variations on a theme. They are the Verse, the Chorus and the Bridge. There are also other parts to the song structure such as the Intro, the Ending (Outro, Coda), the Pre-Chorus, Lead Break (instrumental solo) and then there are other less used components.

The Verse, Chorus, Bridge is the meat of the song. The Verse and Chorus are the most prominent as they are repeated the most.

The Verse is where the story unfolds, the narrative, the basic topic or idea of the song is introduced. It could be a description of a problem, a feeling, an observation or it could be a question about any topic or something in life. The Verse lays the groundwork for your story.

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The Chorus is usually the memorable part of the song that most people would sing along to. It normally has fewer words than the verse, that often repeat. If the Verse
was the question, the Chorus would be the answer. Often the Chorus would have back up singers or use a vocal harmonizer to make it stand out.

The Bridge, sometimes called the middle eight, is a sort of musical interlude in the song, to break it up, and to keep it moving. Usually there will be a change in the chords used or the tempo or the rhythmic beat. Some times the bridge will be an instrumental or lead break. It will usually lead into the third Chorus or a third Verse.

Now lets get to the actual song structures. The Verse is normally labeled as "A", The Chorus "B" and the Bridge "C".

The three most popular song forms used now a days would probably be:

A B A C A B, (which is Verse, Chorus, Verse, Bridge , Verse, Chorus) (Yes this is the famous ABACAB that Genesis named a song after.)

A B A B C A B, (which is Verse, Chorus, Verse, Chorus, Bridge , Verse, Chorus)

A B A B C B, (which is Verse, Chorus, Verse, Chorus, Bridge , Chorus)

The Intro is where the song starts. It could be an instrumental riff, a lyric line, humming, chord comping or just the music of the verse with no singing.

The Ending or Outro or Coda is where you end the song. It could be a fade out ending or abrupt end on a different chord, a little closing riff, a held vocal note or whatever fits.

The Pre-Chorus is optional. It is a tie between the Verse and Chorus. It could be a build up to make the Chorus sound bigger, or perhaps the music of the Verse and
Chorus seem too far apart that you feel you need a transitional piece leading into the Chorus, to tie the two together. If you are writing a Progressive Rock song you may   want to use the Pre-Chorus as a way to extend the song, to make it more intricate.


The Lead Break or Instrumental Break is also optional. It could be in place of the Bridge or in addition to the Bridge. Sometimes it is played in front of the Bridge, 
sometimes after the Bridge, sometimes after the Chorus as a lead into the final verse. It could be a guitar solo or any instrument solo, could be multiple instruments playing an alternate or extended version of the Verse riff or Chorus riff. Sometimes it is a completely different instrument or sound that has not been used anywhere else in the song.

Putting it all together

Here is an example utilizing all of the components:

Using "I" for Intro, "O" for Outro, "P" for Pre-Chorus and "S" for Solo. This time we will number the Verses.

I A P B A P B C S A B O (which is Intro, Verse 1, Pre-Chorus, Chorus, Verse 2, Pre-Chorus, Chorus, Bridge , Solo, Verse 3, Chorus, Outro)

As you can see, by utilizing Pre-Choruses and Lead Breaks will make the song a lot longer. Sometimes that could be a disadvantage if it takes the song over the four minute mark,  which is generally where you want to be to get more plays on the streaming services.  The Streaming services prefer songs to be less than four minutes long.    If you are writing a Prog Rock song it is expected to be longer, and they  usually get less air play anyways.

Remember that these song writing methods are just guide lines, and rules were made to be broken, especially in Music. However you adjust the formula make sure that it sounds like it fits. You don't have to worry, the Song Nazi's were all slayed by the Progressive Rock Bands in the late 1960's, early 1970's.

Thanks and check back for Part 2.

About the author

               Art Rock, a music industry veteran, has been involved in all aspects of the Music Business for over three decades.

   article by Art Rock / / Absolute Music      copyright Absolute Music  2020 all rights reserved    TOP of Page



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Sing it like you mean it

   by Art Rock

   One thing that makes a good song stand out from the rest is emotion in the vocals. If you want your song to shine, sing it like you mean it. Put some emotion in your vocals. Try to avoid singing the entire song in one vocal level. Change it up. Try starting the song off with a softer vocal, then gradually build it up to the chorus. At the chorus try letting go.

   Experiment. Try going up or down in pitch with your voice on different words. Try holding the end of different words in each vocal line, or try cutting them off short. Try different mixes of both on different words. Try to substitute some emotional type words or phrases like crying, dying, lying, hurting, yearning, killing, missing you, wanting you, loving you, seeing you. Then emphasize those words.  Try holding the note in the middle of the word. Cry-yyyyyy-ing. Raise the pitch of your voice in the middle of a word like crying, to a border line whine like you are crying while you sing it. Try going overboard, over the edge. Don't hold back. Push it way too far, record it, then listen to the demo.  

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   Too many times as artists we feel uncomfortable even embarrassed when we push the vocals too far. If you take a look at many of the top hit songs over the years, you will find a lot of them had odd, even goofy sounding parts in the vocals. Many times that goofy part is what sticks in the listeners minds.
   Have you ever seen a friend or someone singing along to a song being played, and then when they get to the goofy part, they really emphasize it as though they were waiting just to sing that word or part? Their face lights up, it seems to lift their spirits, to arouse an emotional reaction in them. You will never see someone emphasize a word in the center of a verse that is the same volume or pitch as everything else.

   Sometimes it is good to go over the edge of your comfort level, to get your song to stand out from the rest in people's minds. You will be considered to be a better singer for it.  A home studio, with nobody else at home, is the ideal environment to experiment and let it go, loud and over the top. That could be your answer to the question, how to write a hit song,

Try listening to some of your favourite songs and pay close attention to how they end each verse. Do they go down in pitch at the end of the first and third verse, and up in pitch at the end of the second and fourth verse? Are the first, second and fourth verses the same, and every third verse changes? Does every verse have a little different twist at the end or near the end of it? Are the first two verses sung the same, and the last two sung harder and or higher?

   These are all techniques and singing tips used on many hit songs and top album songs, by top singers over the years. Now listen to your song again. Is it changing or is it pretty well all the same? Try varying it to some of the different ways, or all of the different ways listed above. See what fits. Try putting a new spin of your own on it.

   There is no reason in the world that you, YES YOU, could set a new trend in vocal delivery. One that others will follow and talk about many years from now.
Always remember the golden rule in singing vocals on a recording. SING IT LIKE YOU MEAN IT !

           About the author

               Art Rock, a music industry veteran, has been involved in all aspects of the Music Business for over three decades.

   article by Art Rock / / Absolute Music      copyright Absolute Music  2020 all rights reserved    TOP of Page


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Song Intro Ideas

          by Art Rock

   One of the easiest and simplest intros is to play the same music as the verse. Sometimes artists will start with just one of the instruments, such as the drums. Then the bass guitar starts, then the guitar and then any other instruments in the band. Then they break into the first verse. Easy to do and sets the song up nice. It flows right in smooth and easy.

Over the years artists from many different styles of music have used a spacey synthesizer sound for the intro. Songs like "Fly Like an Eagle" by the Steve Miller Band, "Lunatic Fringe" by Tom Cochrane and Red Rider to "In The Light" by Led Zeppelin.

   Another method, the one chord intro, is a very effective way to get your song remembered in the minds of the listener. As soon as you hear that opening chord on the piano you instantly recognize it as "Benny and the Jets" by Elton John. To pull this off try going through a chord book and try different chords, especially the less common ones, that people do not usually hear. Try slow strumming it, then try playing it fast and hard. On a piano or keyboard try playing the chord one note at a time, then try comping it. Try playing them different ways, and experiment to find something that is unique sounding and fits in to your song.

    Another method for an intro to a song is to start with a solo vocal line. A perfect example is the Who's "The Real Me" . "Can you see the real me can you, can you" followed by a powerful instrumentation that blows people away. They go from a vocal only to the full power of the band. This sudden change from soft to hard makes listeners jump out of their chairs onto their feet.

Another method of intros that is frequently used is to start the song with the chorus. This is very effective if you are a new unknown artist or band, with a very strong chorus. It will keep the listeners from changing the channel on the radio or get up and leave when you start playing live. Many listeners unfairly label an unknown act as garbage. This is a stigma every new band has to accept and get over. In this situation a strong chorus will pull them in as soon as you start your song.

   Another approach to an intro is to use some type of gimmicky sound effect. When you hear the guitar string bending you know it's "Iron Man" by Black Sabbath. When you hear the harmonica playing you know it's "The Wizard" by Black Sabbath. When you hear the helicopter you know that is "The Happiest Days of our Lives" by Pink Floyd.

The above methods will give you lots of ideas on different types of song intros. Try to come up with something unique, different that hasn't been done before. Think outside the box. Be a trend setter, not a follower. You are the only one who is limiting yourself.

     article by Art Rock / / Absolute Music      copyright Absolute Music  2020 all rights reserved     TOP of Page


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Every Song Tells A Story

... But Does It Need To Be An Abstract Novel? by Sheena Metal

For a musician, your songs are your art. They are the physical embodiment of your creative gifts. Every bit of anger, happiness, angst, joy, pain, elation, knowledge or humour goes into the story known as your song. You write and re-write it, scouring over each note and word...perfecting it for recording and live performance.

But when you play it for others, you're not getting the reaction you expected. Your friends, fans and family seem less than enthusiastic as they dully respond, "Yeah. That" How could this be? You poured your soul into this piece. This was your "Stairway To Heaven"! This was your "Smells Like Team Spirit"! It's a lyrically amazing ode about the persecution of pagan midwives in grass hut tribes! It flows, it breathes, and it's seven and a half minutes of pure musical perfection!




Whoa. Stop right there, Mozart. You wrote a seven and a half minute song about the persecution of pagan midwives in grass hut tribes and you're wondering why you're thirteen year-old cousin fell asleep in the middle of the fourth verse? You wrote a seven and a half minute song about the persecution of pagan midwives in grass hut tribes and you're confused as to why your drummer's girlfriend began calling her friends on her cell phone before the song had reached its bridge?

It may be hard to believe when you're penning an opus such as this, but the normal human brain is wired a little differently than an accomplished musician's, like yourself. And although music is art, it's also popular culture and the goal should be for others to enjoy your creative efforts as much as you do.

So, how can you make sure that your writing experience is as positive as your audience's listening experience? What can you, as musicians do, to eliminate aspects of your songs that may alienate, confuse or just plain bore your fans?

The following are a few tips that may add success to your songwriting experience:

1.) After Four Minutes, It Becomes Background Music---Music aficionado's aside, the average person has roughly the attention span of a young adult hummingbird. As a songwriter, you need to grab your audience's attention and hold it until the end of the song before they flit off to something else more interesting to them. Although four minutes (or less) may seem like the blink of an eye when a song-writer is storytelling, it's a very long time to expect your run-of-the-mill club-goer or web-surfer to stay fixated on your music.


2.) Tell Your Story As Directly As Possible  We all love allusions, allegories, vague references, and subtle metaphors but use them sparingly or become a beat poet. A little abstractness goes a long way when writing a popular song. Song lyrics fly into people's minds as quickly as the bassist plucks out quarter notes. If you make your lyrics too complicated, then your audience may still be trying to figure out the verse when you're already playing the chorus. This could prompt the average listener to tune out your masterpiece, order another beer and switch on their I pod.

3.) If English Is Your First Language, Use It In Your Song---It's great that you're an educated, cultured, artistic intellectual sponge. But remember that most people who hear your music are not book worms or art nuts. Big, involved words make for memorable song lyrics but use them occasionally. It's good for your fans to ponder the meaning of a particular lyric but give them too many to ponder and they'll get so caught up in the words that they may forget your song.

4.) Obscure Musicality Can Be Confusing Too---Lyrics aren't the only way to confuse the average listener. Obscure time signatures, discordant instrumentation and

avant-garde drum lines may seem like genius to your fellow musicians, but if your listeners can't tap and/or hum along, you may find yourself only invited to perform in underground opium bars where the audience members have all had one too many hash brownie.

If you're not sure where to begin, start simple. Write a short, but sweet, song that packs an emotional punch in a universal way. Write about something everyone is familiar with: love, politics, lifestyle issues or the sociology of being a human being on the planet. Once people have fallen in love with your music, it will be easier to get them to give the extra listen to your more complicated, artistic pieces.

Remember that just because a song is popular or easily understood, doesn't mean that it's not good creativity. Art is subjective, and truly in the eye of the beholder. Your least favourite song could be someone else's favourite. You never have to stop being creative or artistic, just acknowledge that there's an audience out there that wants to hear what you have to say... but they'll need to be able to comprehend it first.

About the Author

Sheena Metal is a radio host, producer, promoter, music supervisor, consultant, columnist, journalist and musician. Her syndicated radio program, Music Highway Radio, airs on over 700 affiliates to more than 126 million listeners. Her musicians' assistance program, Music Highway, boasts over 10,000 members. She currently promotes numerous live shows weekly in the Los Angeles Area, where she resides. For more info     TOP of Page




How To Write A Song

      by Michael Russell

Did you ever wish that it was your song playing on the radio? It could be. It is not that hard once you know the formula. With a little creativity, a little knowledge, a little luck and a good formula to follow, your song could be one of the next biggest hits.

Songwriting comes easy for some, and is very difficult for others. I have actually written songs in my sleep, and immediately upon awaking, written it as quickly as I could get the words on down on paper.

What I want to discuss here is popular songwriting, like the songs you hear on the radio. A good pop song, whether rock, country, middle of the road, is composed of two things: a catchy tune and some good lyrics.

There is a formula that most great songwriters use to write great songs. It regards the structure used to write a song. Granted, it is music and it is art, so the rules are not hard and fast. But if you want to increase your chances of getting your song on the radio, it is a good starting point.

Here is the formula. Verse, chorus, verse, chorus, bridge, chorus.

Write that down on paper leaving plenty of space between each word and this will be your script.


The verse is the part of the song that tells the story, the part that leads to the chorus. Each verse is usually different, telling a different part of, or adding to, the story. It usually explains how you got to the things you are singing about in the chorus.


The chorus is the part of the song that is repeated after each verse. The lyrics are usually the same each time the chorus comes around. The verse usually leads to the chorus, and the chorus is usually the pay off for listening to the verse. Does that make sense?

Here is a lame example (you did not think I would give you my best work, did you?):

(verse) My dog is sick, he's got a tick He's my best friend, don't let it end

Oh, woe is me, can't you see
Woe is me, will I ever be free

My car broke down, just out of town
It got towed in, but it's broke again

Oh, woe is me, can't you see
Woe is me, will I ever be free

Now, if you would kindly stop laughing at my lame song for a minute, I want you to think about whether or not you understand my point. Songwriting is story telling. The verse tells the problems, the chorus expresses the results or the emotions.

All right, now that you have that mastered, let's tackle the bridge. Ah, yeah, there is more to the song than the pain and the release. We need the diversion. That is what the bridge is; it is the diversion from the verse and the chorus.

The bridge may have a slightly different melody to it, or it could even have a different rhythm or a different tempo (Elvis' "Suspicious Minds" did a great job on this technique). 

Let's go back to the lame song and add a bridge:

My dog is sick, he's got a tick
He's my best friend, don't let it end

Oh, woe is me, can't you see
Woe is me, will I ever be free

My car broke down, just out of town
It got towed in, but it's broke again

Oh, woe is me, can't you see
Woe is me, will I ever be free

Tomorrow is a better day, I've got a new truck on the way
My dog just had a flea it seems, so once again I'll live my dreams

Oh, woe was me, can't you see
Woe was me, but now I'm free

The bridge offers a solution to the problems I was having. You don't want to leave your listener on the edge of suicide, you want to give them hope. 




Notice, I also changed up the wording of the chorus. This was done to reflect my new found joy. u see
Woe is me, will I ever be free

My car broke down, just out of town
It got towed in, but it's broke again

it would be:

Oh, woe is me, can't you see
Woe is me, will I ever be free
My car broke down, just out of town
It got towed in, but it's broke again

The same goes for the chorus. Again, if you are creative, do it however you want. But for a new songwriter, this gives you some guidelines to scratch out and start carving out your new creation.

One more thing, do not make the notes to the melody so high that your fans cannot sing along. We are certainly all not Stevie Wonder. 

About the Author

Michael Russell    Your Independent guide to Music      TOP of Page




Write Songs the Music Industry Wants to Hear

   by Alex Forbes

Sure, "art for art's sake" is cool... but what if you're pursuing a career as a songwriter? This article is full of suggestions for how you can tailor your songs to suit the requirements of music business professionals.

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Many of us bemoan the state of commercial music today, but what are you doing to improve things in your own microcosmic corner of the universe? Are you working to create the next wave of great material -- songs that have a lifespan of more than a few weeks or months? How can you use your talents to actually make a powerful contribution... and make a living while you're at it?

The first step is to take a good look inside and explore what you as a unique individual have to say, lyrically and musically. What do you think about, believe in, stand for? What makes you tick? These precious truths that bubble up from the soul provide the driving force behind great songwriting. These sparks of inspiration, these "aha! moments," are what listeners crave when they play a song. They're also what People Behind Desks are desperate to find. Do you have the courage to lay bare your personal truth in public? I firmly believe that's what it takes to achieve success with your songs.

The cynical among us will say, "no, you just need the right equipment, a catchy hook and a whole lot of money behind you." Sure, those things help, but if you're trying to break into the business, your song has to simultaneously grab people by the guts, tickle their ears, and slam them over the head like a 2-by-4. Strive to write songs that take risks, tap into the universal via the personal, and motivate people to laugh, cry, feel, dance or take action. Make an effort to innovate, not imitate what's already out there. In other words, write your passion. Songs miraculously translate to listeners the exact emotion you felt while you were writing them. Do your best to work that magic!

Another quality that professionals look for in a song is strong dynamic flow. Skilful use of the many conventions of songwriting can manipulate listeners in the most enjoyable way. Don't be afraid to push those emotional buttons! Here are some ways to go about it:  

* Suck listeners in with lyrical, melodic and chordal tension.

* Create a question in their minds: how will this turn out in the end?
* Throw their bodies off balance with chords or melodies that are unexpected or quirky.
* Take a strong point of view that's boldly provocative, unique or intensely felt.
* Paint a vivid picture in the mind's eye.
* Set a palpable mood.
* Construct an entire sonic and/or lyrical environment.   

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Once you have piqued people's interest, crank up their involvement using all the techniques in your lyrical toolbox, i.e. rhyme, meter, imagery, metaphor, alliteration... you name it. Avoid clichés like the plague, or turn them on their heads somehow. Experiment until you find the melody lines that best show off your lyrics, and vice versa. Salt your song with enough repetition to make it memorable, but not so much that it becomes predictable. Use chord progressions that are fresh, stimulating the ear rather than lulling it into complacency.

When it comes time for the ultimate payoff, your Hook, don't settle! This is your Money Shot, and most music biz pros will hit the "eject" button if they don't hear a strong hook in one listen. One listen! Here are a few ways to enhance your hook:  

* Construct your song so that all roads, lyrically and melodically, lead to your hook.
* Remember that famous music business adage: "Don't bore us, get to the chorus."

* More hooks is merrier! Instrumental riffs, backups, rhythmical chord movement, and verse melodies can provide secondary hooks.

* Fear not repetition (up to a point, of course).
* Throw in memorable "monkey wrench" words that stand out.
* Make sure the world can sing along.

* Play with the language: use slang, twists of phrase, even invent a new word!

Finally, People Behind Desks really appreciate it if you know your marketplace. Don't submit a country ballad when their artist is a heavy metal guitar-shredder. And if you're the performer, have at least 3 crowd-pleasing, radio-ready songs in hand before you shop a deal. Make a detailed study of the hits in your chosen genres, and incorporate those lessons into your work. The Internet has made it incredibly easy to educate yourself about what's selling these days, so there's no excuse for ignorance.


Look at the world for a moment from the perspective of a music industry pro: They'll respond positively if they think your song will save their job. By bringing them dynamic, single-worthy, heartfelt material you'll be well on your way to doing just that, and creating a career for yourself as well.

Happy songwriting!

© 2006 by Alex Forbes -About the Author -Hit songwriter and songwriting coach Alex Forbes  creativesongwriter .com has seen over 65 of her songs released, many of them landing on the Billboard charts, on TV and in feature films. Her chart hits include "Don't Rush Me," (#2 Pop), "Too Turned On," (#6) and "Nothin' My Love Can't Fix" (#19). Her song, "You Are Water" is featured on the hit album by Hayley Westenra.     TOP of Page



How to Get the Right Balance of Innovation  and Predictability in Your Songs

by Gary Ewer

Everyone's looking for innovation when it comes to writing songs. Obviously, you don't want your songs to just sound like every other song out there. You want yours to stand out. Making a song stand out from the rest requires innovation - a new approach. But here's the danger: if your songs are too innovative, you'll find that listeners can get confused, or even bored. Songs need to have something predictable about them. In other words, if your song is too innovative, it can drive your audience away.

Through my websites  secretsofsongwriting .com and easymusictheory .com, I deal with this issue of innovation versus predictability a lot. Many of my online and "real life" students are songwriters. And getting the balance right is very important.

Innovation is not a bad thing, and many great bands and singers have spent years building up an audience for their material by being innovative. But for the most innovative performers out there, the building of that audience will require a long time, and lots of patience.

This article is for those of you who want to build audiences quickly. It's one thing to be satisfied with taking years to build a listenership. But I know that many of you are wanting to get a loyal following sooner than that. You can do that by concentrating more on predictability at first rather than innovation.

So if you want to build an audience for your music quickly, you'll need to think about presenting your material in a fresh, innovative way that does not abandon tradition. The Beatles are probably the greatest example of this. Their early music was modeled after some very successful singers: Buddy Holly, Elvis Presley, Chuck Berry and others. Presented in a fresh way, their early music relied on standard song format, with rather traditional chord changes and melodic structures. "All My Lovin'", "I Want to Hold Your Hand," "She Loves You," etc. Great songs, strongly steeped in tradition, with a hint of innovation.

Once the Beatles got that audience, they began to experiment more with innovative compositional and recording techniques. So having built up a loyal audience, they were able to present songs like "I Am the Walrus," "Strawberry Fields Forever," and so on. And that loyal audience, generally speaking, hung in there with them.




So here are some tips to consider for balancing innovation with tradition:

1) Be sure that at least one element of your songs - either chord progressions, melody, lyric or basic form, is traditional, and somewhat predictable. This will help those looking for something "safe", and will give you a solid basis to present something innovative.

2) For the element of your song that you might consider innovative, remember that the "further out there" it is, the stronger the possibility that you will scare away listeners. This is not necessarily a bad thing, because you may pick up listeners that you wouldn't have otherwise had. Just remember that the more innovation you use, the slower you'll build that audience.

3) Don't be afraid to clothe complex lyrics or melody with a traditional ABABCB type of form. Simple forms are great ways to make sure that a listener doesn't feel lost.

And always remember to be yourself. Being innovative simply because you want to try to sound different will not succeed. You need to always be presenting your material in a way that is true to the musician inside you. Being weird for weird's sake will come across as pretentious.

Gary Ewer is the author of The Essential Secrets of Songwriting and Gary Ewer's Easy Music Theory.

He is currently an instructor in the Dept. of Music, Dalhousie University, Halifax, Nova Scotia.     TOP of Page

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8)   How to Develop a Good Ear by Gary Ewer

What do we mean when we say that someone "has a good ear?" Actually, the term can mean several things. When someone has a good ear, they can accomplish at least one of the following:

1) they can identify, usually by note name, the various pitches that they hear, and sing those pitches in tune; 2) they can identify chords by name; and/or 3) they can identify instruments or combinations of instruments within a musical work.

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  Having a good ear is something that most musicians strive for. Having a bad ear means that you can't recognize or label the music you are hearing - an important skill for performers and composers.

I run a songwriting website  secretsofsongwriting .com, and I know how important a good ear is. If you are a songwriter, having a good ear is vital because the best way to improve your songwriting craft is to listen to the music of the professionals. But if you can't really identify what you are hearing, you're missing out on opportunities to improve. Throughout my years as a music teacher, I have observed something interesting and very important. The marks that my students make in music theory studies are usually very close to the marks they receive in ear training. And more than that, I can usually gauge how a student is going to do in one course by looking at their progress in the other. For example, students who do well in theory but poorly in ear training will usually see their ear training marks rise over time. And students who have great ears but weak theory skills will generally experience better marks in theory over time. In other words, music theory and ear training go hand in hand. The first and most important thing you can do to improve your ear is to improve your theory skills. Why? When you understand how music is structured, your ears have a reason for what they are hearing.

Here's one good example. In any key, there are three or four certain chords that work well to reinforce that key, and are more likely to occur than any other chords. Knowledge of theory helps you know and identify those chords. So when you are listening to music and trying to identify the chords you are hearing, you can focus in the most likely choices. Besides improving your theory skills, here are some other pieces of advice for you:

1) Try some of the ear training websites that are out there. Just do a search for "online ear training" and you'll find lots of resources that can help.

2) Try purchasing some ear training software. These days, most university aural perception programs incorporate computerized training into their curriculum.

3) Try writing down the melodies that you hear being played. Transcribing music in this manner actually does not require strong music reading skills, and you will find that what skills you do possess will improve greatly and quickly. Take a simple song, and play it on your CD player a bit at a time, writing down whatever notes you hear. Even if you aren't sure of the rhythms, write whatever pitches you can. If you're stuck on a note, find it on your guitar or piano, and then write it down. This is the best ear training exercise there is!

Practicing your instrument is crucial to becoming a better musician. But be certain that you don't neglect your ear!

Gary Ewer is the author of The Essential Secrets of Songwriting and Gary Ewer's Easy Music Theory.

He is currently an instructor in the Dept. of Music, Dalhousie University, Halifax, Nova Scotia.      TOP of Page


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Seven Basic Songwriting Errors

 by Gary Ewer

Seven Basic Songwriting Errors

The advice in this article comes from  secretsofsongwriting .com, a popular website and e-book.

So are there only seven possible errors? In my experience as a teacher, the seven errors listed below represent the most common errors committed by students of songwriting. Addressing these shortcomings is essential to making your songs work.

ERROR #1: THE FORM OF THE SONG IS CONFUSING. SOLUTION: Strengthen the form of your songs by carefully controlling the energy. Usually, an intro should have the same or more energy than a verse, not less. A chorus should have more energy than a verse. A bridge should have more energy than the chorus that came before it. This chart shows the general energy pattern that works for most songs:

ERROR #2: THE MELODY LACKS SHAPE. SOLUTION: In a verse, the range of the melody should generally be higher immediately after the middle point, to help it gain momentum as it gets ready to connect to the chorus. The old standard, "Under the Boardwalk," by Resnick and Young, is a perfect example.

ERROR #3: CHORDS SEEM TO WANDER AIMLESSLY SOLUTION: The chord that represents the key your song is in (i.e., the "tonic" chord) should be featured more in the chorus than in the verse. (And the actual tonic note should also be used more in a chorus than in a verse.)

ERROR #4: STRONG AND FRAGILE CHORD PROGRESSIONS ARE USED HAPHAZARDLY. SOLUTION: Chord progressions that feature chords four notes away from each other (i.e., in the key of C major we're talking about G7 to C, C to F, Dm to G, as examples) form a strong progression, and should be featured in a chorus. Other chord progressions (let's say Dm to Em, F to Dm, G to Am, for example) form what are called "fragile" progressions, and can be featured more in a verse.

ERROR #5: LYRICS ARE NOT SUPPORTING THE FORM OF THE SONG. The kind of lyric determines the kind of chord progression you use. Strong, conclusive lyrics need many strong progressions; introspective lyrics work well with fragile progressions. And remember, writing a good lyric does not necessarily mean writing a good poem. Rather, it's better to write a working title for your song, then start brainstorming words and short phrases that relate to that title.

For example, if you've written, "All I've Ever Wanted" as your working title, you might come up with these words as relating text: love, hand-in-hand, touch, satisfaction, emotion, my heart, for you, warm... etc. You will find that even though many of these words won't necessarily make it to your song, they get you thinking in the right direction, and start you formulating a working lyric.

ERROR #6: YOU'RE RELYING ON A HOOK TO SAVE A BAD SONG. Adding a hook to a bad song gives you a bad song with a hook! Composing a song and then trying to find a hook that makes it really come alive is a really difficult thing to do. Try writing the hook first. Improvise on a couple of chords, or a few notes, or a rhythm - something short and attractive. Once you've got something that really catches your attention, try using it as an intro to your song, and something that keeps recurring between verses and choruses. A hook needs to draw an audience in, and keep them coming back to your song.

ERROR #7: WAITING FOR INSPIRATION. I can say it no better than the musician/author Ernest Newman: "The great composer... does not set to work because he is inspired, but becomes inspired because he is working." Waiting for inspiration is, quite frankly, a waste of time! You need to be writing daily in order to make your songs better. If something isn't working.... don't throw it out. Just put it away, and start something new. Keep everything you try to write in a scrap book. You'd be surprised what will eventually make its way into a song.

These are just a few examples of the kinds of things that will make your songs work better. If you want even more advice, you need to visit secretsofsongwriting .com and start making your songs into winners!      TOP of Page

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Adding Chords to a Melody

by Gary Ewer

You've written a great melody, but you don't know what chords to use to accompany yourself when you play it. What do you do? Adding chords to melodies can be fun, if you know a bit about how chords work. Try the following steps:

a) It's important to think about strong beats and weak beats with regard to your new melody. Sing your melody and try to get a sense of where the pulses happen. As you sing, you'll notice your toe automatically tapping... that's a good sign! For many melodies, you'll find that the first beat will feel like a strong pulse and the next one will be a bit weaker. It's on the strong beat that the chords will change. Let's take the melody, "Twinkle, Twinkle, Little Star" as a good example. Each syllable of each word alternates between strong and weak. You'll find that it feels most satisfying if the chords change on the strong beats, or even every second strong beat, or every fourth one. It's less pleasing to change chords on the weak beats, though it can happen occasionally.

b) So... what chords do we use? The first chord should emphasize the key you're in, so if your melody is in C-major, then the C-major chord will probably work well. You'll find that in any major key, three chords will work quite nicely: chords based on the first note, the fourth note, and the fifth note. In C-major, the three chords that will be most useful to you are: C, F and G. So take the first strong beat note(s) and weak beat note(s). Those notes will likely belong to one of the three chords I mentioned. That will guide your choice. So the chords to Twinkle Twinkle would be: C C F C F C G C (where each chord happens on each strong beat.

c) I've just used three chords as an example, but now the fun begins... try substituting some chords for other ones. As an example, the C chord works well in C major, because it reinforces the key. But try substituting one of the C chords with an A minor chord. A minor has a C in it, so it will work, and will give your music an interesting flavour.

Keep in mind that simplicity is better than complexity, especially in the world of songwriting, when you want people to remember your melodies. So don't try to use too many chords. Four or five different ones are usually sufficient.

Good luck! (The information in this article comes from Gary Ewer's downloadable e-book, "The Essential Secrets of Songwriting"  secretsofsongwriting .com  

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  eharmony UK

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Making Your Own Music - Songwriting Basics

by   Sintilia Miecevole

Whether you are a teenager or are well into your golden years, it is never too late to explore your creative side, especially if you are interested in music. Songwriting is an excellent way to express your thoughts and feelings and to communicate them to your friends and family, even if you have no aspirations of musical fame or fortune. If you are interested in selling or performing your songs, however, you should be aware that it is a hard road and that very few songwriters achieve great fame or fortune, and especially not instantly. Nonetheless, if you have realistic expectations, you will find that writing music is a worthwhile experience whether it is a hobby or a profession.

People write songs in many different ways. Some writers compose the music first, while others first write the words. For some, the words and the melody come to them at the same time, while others write the melodies first and write the words last. No matter what order you are comfortable with, you will eventually have to decide what the song is about. There are a variety of different types of songs ranging from songs that tell fictional stories to songs that communicate deep personal feelings.

If you decide to write a story song, a good first exercise is to write about a news story or about something you've read in the newspaper. That way you can use your first song to hone your word choosing skills without the pressure of coming up with your own story. However, if you already have an idea for a story to tell, you can write it out in poem form and try to make appropriate rhymes and structures that help communicate what happens in the song.

Because music is so expressive, many songwriters use their compositions to express how they feel, whether it be about a person or a situation or even geographic location. Writing these types of songs can be highly personal, so every person does it differently. When you have a strong feeling about something, write it down in a notebook and come back to it later. You might think of a good line that expresses an emotion really well, and if you remember it you might be able to build an entire song around it. Having quiet time to think is always helpful when you are trying to write a song.

Writing the actual music for a song can be done in many different ways depending on your musical prowess and your focus. If you write mostly to communicate words, then a few well-chosen guitar chords might be all of the accompaniment you need. However, if you a instrumental virtuoso, your approach to writing music will be quite different. Many people think of a musical idea and play it over and over again until they think of a melody. Often times, songwriters will construct whole pieces, melody and all, without even knowing what the song is going to be about. Once the melody is complete, the writer will sit down and think about lyrics that fit the feeling behind the music and will go from there.

 Once you have put together your words and music, you might feel the need to perform your new song. It is always a good idea to play for friends and family first before trying to play to a crowd. When you feel comfortable enough playing your song, you should consider visiting an open mic night at a local coffeehouse or bar. At open mic nights, songwriters can play one or more of their songs to an appreciative and attentive audience. Performers can discuss their craft with other writers, making it a fun way to learn more about the writing process. 

About the Author

Undoubtedly, Sintilia Miecevole has the site to help you not only with your songwriting skills, but help with getting your writing to the decision makers in the music business and you don't have to be able to write music either. To connect with songwriters all over the planet and for ideas visit      TOP of Page

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How to Write a Chorus

by Free Music Education Center Team

A song without a chorus can hardly be called a song. This rather bad statement is my personal opinion so if you don't agree, that's okay. But I would like to start this lesson with this statement, not only to wake you up, but rather because it's one of the key-statements of this lesson. So if you don't like songs without a chorus and never intend to write one, than probably you won't feel at home in this class this month. I must say I never felt at home when I was at school but that's another story... But if you do stick around, even if you don't like to write choruses, maybe you will change your mind about them.

A chorus is more or less the heart of a song, at least if it's a good one of course. Why this is true is not as obvious as it seems. People always tend to remember the chorus of a song, while it may not even be the most interesting part of the song at all. The easiest explanation of course is the fact that the chorus is usually played a couple of times during a song. But if this was the only reason why a chorus is the heart of most songs, how come then that lots of choruses are easily forgotten, even if they are played seemingly endless in the fadeout of a song? So there must be more to it.

   In this lesson we will see it's hard to reveal the secrets of a good chorus. Writing a good chorus may be more a matter of the heart (something called talent?) than the mind. But since this counts for songwriting in general, don't be afraid; there are always some tricks to learn to help those who have to struggle a little more then the lucky, more talented ones. And believe me, most of us belong to the first group, to put it stronger, even the most talented ones often join the struggling crowd when they're not inspired. In lesson 5, we already saw some elements a good chorus should have. Now we will take a closer look at these elements, by discussing some rules you should follow if you want to write a good chorus. These rules are:

It should be catchy It should contain elements of the rest of the song

It shouldn't be an anti-climax Following these rules, you obey to the most important rules of writing a good chorus. We will take a look at these rules in the next paragraph. You can also click on the links to go directly to the discussion of each of these rules.

Rule 1: a chorus should be catchy What makes a chorus catchy? The easiest answer (for me at least) is: listen to all those golden oldies. Almost all the classics from the sixties and the seventies have catchy choruses. Of course The Beatles were real masters at this, but it seems all the bands that became famous in those days were able to write catchy choruses which seem to stick in your mind forever.

Who doesn't know the chorus of Honky Tonk Women for example... Listening to examples is a great way to teach yourself, and that counts for songwriting too! But there's something more to say about this issue too.

Keep it simple One of the main rules in writing a good chorus is to keep it simple. Try to avoid to make the chorus sound complicated. This doesn't mean that as long as you keep it simple technically spoken the chorus will sound simple! A chorus built around a difficult, but well written musical part will be easier to listen to than a technically simple chorus which is written in an unlogical manner.


Consider The Average Listener The above indicates you'll have to keep the average listener in mind while writing your chorus. Most listeners aren't musicians so don't forget that! The average listener will often look for things he/she can recognize, a certain general feeling of what sounds logical and which has been developed during many years. You would probably think now that I'm saying most listeners are dumb but that's not the case. So don't treat them like that. They won't buy the same stuff over and over again ('though this seems to be heavily contradicted by the house-rage of this time....) so you will have to keep them anxious. In the chorus you can try this by experimenting with backing vocals, special arrangements etc, but be careful and don't overdo things. So in general you could say the secret to write a catchy chorus is to make it sound logical.

Rule 2: a chorus should contain elements of the rest of the song In this lesson we already saw a chorus is one of the most important parts of your song. In most cases, it's the part of the song which will be played the most often. So it better be good!

Another trick to make your chorus a good chorus is to give it the treatment it deserves! Since it's the main element of your song, whether you like it or not, it should get all the attention it needs while you write it, to gain all the attention it needs when you play it. This brings me to a rather contra dictionary issue: writing songs is a very intuitive job and that also counts for writing choruses. But to obey to the rule that a chorus should contain elements of the rest of the song, you should at least examine and evaluate your music thoroughly. In mine opinion just writing your music from the heart will generally result in the best music, but it's not very sensible only to rely on your heart. Evaluating your music can be very useful and especially when it comes to writing a chorus. So no matter how you write, whether you write straight from the heart or not, you will have to evaluate your song. Not only because it will enhance your songwriting skills simply because you are "forced" to think about what you have written, but also because "technical rules" like these can only be followed by using technical means like evaluation. Since a chorus is the part that will be played and remembered most, it's the best place to "advertise" your song. Maybe if you consider the chorus to be the advertisement of your song, you will better understand the importance of putting elements of the rest of the song into it, making it kind of an excerpt of your song. Some advantages of doing so are:

Recognition People will recognize the song by just hearing the chorus. But it works the other way around too; they will recognize the chorus as being part of that piece of music they accidentally hear when they enter a bar for example.

Recollection People will remember your song much more easily. Because the chorus is an excerpt of the song, they will only have to remember the excerpt to remember the song. Why not using old school-tricks when they work fine?

 Strength By putting elements of the song together in your chorus, in fact you are just making a miniature of your song. When you do this right, it will result in a very strong piece of music. Producers will be pleased when they see you have skills to achieve this, because they usually want you to cut out all the unnecessary stuff from your song. But what elements should you take? This in fact is completely up to you and depends on the song you are writing. Generally it works fine to pick some of the more melodic parts of your song, simply because most people remember a melodic piece of music better than a monotone piece. And that's about all there is to say on this issue, but there are some pitfalls to look out for.

These tips might help you avoiding them:

Don't copy too much While putting the best elements of your song together into your chorus, you are taking the risk of ending up with a chorus that unveils all the secrets of your song making the rest of the song predictable and dull. Therefore it's better not to copy too literally but hustle things a little. Tricks like changing the key of the parts while played during the chorus can help. Just consider all the best parts to be some sort of colour-palette, which enables you to make various versions of the same picture. Don't make the chorus too long. Better leave out some good parts than desperately putting everything together in the chorus! Good choruses almost never exceed 6 lines. As you can see, this part of writing songs can be very tricky. Don't forget your skills will grow after every song you've finished, even the more technical skills that you'll need to write a good song, like evaluating your song and deciding what parts should be reflected into the chorus. I deliberately used the term reflect, because this is one of the most vague issues of writing songs, making it one of the most difficult parts of it. But aren't things always getting more difficult when technique meets feelings?

Rule 3: a chorus shouldn't be an anti-climax The third important rule seems simple but, unfortunately, is not. Just like the second rule we discussed above, we will discover it's again a matter of walking on the edge. You will have to carefully find your way between what's good and what is bad, and there isn't a clear path to follow. But again, experience is something you can't buy but which comes free with endurance and perseverance. So just don't give up when it's getting tough; your peaks will get higher and your downs won't be as low as they used to be! So a chorus shouldn't be an anti-climax. Clear! But why is this rule not as simple as it seems? I will try to explain this. If you follow the first two rules you won't too quickly end up with a chorus that's an anti-climax, just because these two rules ensure your chorus will be more or less the heart of the song. But still your chorus can become an anti-climax, simply because another part of the song attracts too much the attention. A very impressive instrumental break can easily put the chorus in the shadows. So if your chorus is an anti-climax depends not only on the chorus itself, but on the rest of the song too. To avoid this disturbing effect, you will have to be very careful where to put that instrumental break, charismatic lead vocal-line etc. To make things even more complicated, you will have to watch out for the chorus to become the climax of the song itself! This can be disastrous to your song, because you will end up with a song which repeats it's climax over and over again, with the result that you end up with a song that doesn't seem to have a climax at all! So every time you write a song you will have to deal with the problem to write a strong, catchy chorus but on the other hand not to make it too strong... This virtual contradiction is hard to solve, just listen to daily radio. But there are some ways to help you with this: 

Distinction To avoid the chorus and the climax of the song to interfere with each other, you can try to make a very clear distinction between these two rivals. You can do so by putting them apart from each other "physically" (give each of them their own space in the song), or by making them sound as different as the song allows you to. The clearer the difference, the less chance of interference. If you can't beat them... Another approach is to put the climax in the chorus itself. This works best when done in the final chorus. This solution requires you to change that chorus, otherwise it won't work, as we discussed earlier in this lesson. These changes can range from just changing the key, adding additional instruments (like backing-vocals) to even changing the lead-vocal line. When done right you will end up with a super-chorus, which won't be forgotten easily!

aken from /athens/marble/9607

About the Author

Free Music Education Center is a reputable site providing free music lessons on all aspects of music and production        TOP of Page

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Writer's Web Resources

by Janet Ilacqua

The Internet has truly revolutionized the careers of writers worldwide. Now you can work for publishers, corporations and a whole range of other clients on a truly global scale. Whether you are in the heart of a big city, or in a remote mountain village, all you need is an Internet connection to run your writing business. The opportunity is fantastic, and so is the writer's life that you could enjoy. But where can you find the jobs you need to establish a full-time writing career? One way to start is through working the Internet job boards. Here also is included and listed separately are resources for business and technical writers, editors, journalists, and translators. Writers' Resources--General Absolute Write - freelance writing, screenwriting, playwriting, writing novels, non-fiction, comic book writing, greeting cards, poetry, song-writing. One stop shop Emily's Writing for the Web Emily A. Vander Veer gives professional writers the tools needed to promote, publish, and sell work to the largest and fastest-growing market in the world: the Web.


e-Writer's Place For writing inspirations, motivations and prescriptions. Freelance Writers is a searchable database of writers from all around the world. Freelance Writing This is the ultimate job board for freelance writers. Freelance Writing Organization - Int'l This site hosts one of the largest free writing resource links databases in the world! It offers education, daily news, a writer's store, creativity advice and forums, to name a few of the resources. Over 2,000 free writing resources in 40+ categories of writing Funds For Writers - A plethora of sources where freelance writers can find paying jobs Momwriters A community of professional and new writers ... who face the unique challenges of writing with children underfoot. National Writer's Union 'The only U.S. trade union for freelance and contract writers.' We offer contract advice, grievance resolution, health & dental plans, member education, Job Hotline, and networking. See also: Writers Union Job Hotline Published! Articles and resources...from Marcia Yudkin, author of eleven books and hundreds of magazine articles, syndicated columnist, public radio commentator, writing coach Published - The Directory of Independent Writers & Artists. searchable directory of independent Writers & Artists

Sharp Writer Grammar. Complete writing resources. Lot of good stuff here but not geared expressly for freelancers Suite101 This is an online community for writers. Not only is this a great site for work-at-home resources. You can apply to become an editor for them and get paid for your work. Sunoasis Jobs for Writers, Editors, and Copywriters Employment opportunities for writers, journalists, new-media types on-line off-line in reporting feature writing reviewing editing free-lancing editorial content providing etc. ... Recently submitted job offers: Copywriter, Freelance. Monarch Design, a design and advertising agency, The Burry Man Writers Center freelance job links, resources for fiction and non-fiction writers, working professionals and beginners with particular support for writing about Scotland The New Writer - the monthly magazine with the best in fact, fiction and poetry. aimed at all writers: the short story writer, the novelist, the poet, feature writer, anyone with a serious intent to develop their writing to meet the expectations of today's editors. The Writers Home A Web Site For Writers, Editors And Lovers Of The Written Word.



TrAce Online Writing Community trAce connects writers and readers around the world ... with the focus on creativity, collaboration and training. New media writing, web development Worldwide Freelance Writer How to sell your writing overseas. Find out where to sell your freelance work. Detailed guidelines for paying writing markets all over the world. WriteCraft Writers Resource Center Companion to the WriteCraft Critique Group - where writers learn the trade. writejobs Job Title. Company. Location. Proofreader/editor. Bioedit Ltd. Freelance. Digital Photography Writers ... Writers Unbound Writing resources, Internet resources related to writing, writers, publishing, epublishing, authors and more. Articles and resources related to creative writing.

Writer's Software SuperCenter Writer's Software SuperCenter has software for writing books, articles, novels, and screenplays, including Writer's Blocks software, StyleWriter editing software, StoryCraft, and more! Writing World - Moira Allen provides writing tips, markets, news, contests and more. The Writer's Gazette Writing resource site for writers on freelance and publishing, including articles, job board, contests . Nice, comprehensive list of writers' job boards. Business and Technical Copywriter world Freelance writers bid for writing projects such as resume writing, documents in APA style or MLA style writing, poems, sonnets, research papers, business plans, your biography, free e-books, your business proposal, essays, marketing plans, web content, ghost writing, ad copy, catalogs... virtually any form of writing. Freelance Online - a professional online service for freelancers in the publishing and advertising fields. Free for employers; freelancers pay $15.00/year for membership. Freelance SuccessFreelance Success is a community of professional, nonfiction writers who subscribe to a newsletter that guides them toward well-paying markets and editors. There is not a job board located on this site. Techwriters Employs technical writers on and off site. The pay is excellent, but you must have a lot of experience with the topics writingassist .com Provides local freelance technical writers for projects such as manuals, policies, software documentation, and work flow integration. Children's Literature Institute of Children's Literature offered the premiere writing course, books, and a newsletter to adults interested in learning how to write and be published for children and teens. Editing Manuscript Editing Fiction and Non-fiction; Serving writers, literary agents, and publishers since 1976. Fiction Fiction Factor - The Online Magazine for Fiction Writers. NEW! International markets Australian Writer's Marketplace The essential resource for getting published in Australia and New Zealand. Author Network - resources for writers including links, articles, monthly columns and ePublishing services. Canadian Writer's Journal Canada's Independent Writer's Magazine. Freelance Spain - the online Spanish resource for editors and journalists. FreelanceJournalist Helping journalists build a presence on the web. The web directory for UK freelance journalists. offers you the complete guide to freelancing for publishers as a copyeditor or proofreader. New Zealand Writers Website Writing Resources for New Zealand writers  WritelinkPRO is the content provider for top UK monthly newsletter and website. We pay on acceptance for writing articles, fiction, poetry, reviews. We offer free e-book workshops, free e-book on travel writing, exclusive Members Area.

Journalism International Federation of Journalists - The world's largest organization of journalists, representing around 450,000 members in more than 100 countries. News Jobs Network Journalisms resources and News jobs in US, Canada and Utah. UK Links 4 Journalists the most useful sites on the web. This is the journalist's section. Translation ProZ: Freelance translators, translation services, agencies, jobs and directory ... Writers' Federation of Nova Scotia Fostering creative writing and the profession of writing in Nova Scotia. Writerfind New Zealand Linking New Zealand writers with local and global markets. Playwriters writernetwork. We provide dramatic writers with the tools they need to build better careers and redefine the

About the Author

Janet K. Ilacqua is a freelance writer based in Tracy, California. For more information about her services, check her website at writeupondemand .com    

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How to Overcome the Lyric Writing Hurdles that are Keeping You Behind.

The lyric writing side of songwriting is known to create an enormous number of problems for some folks. No matter how hard they try, they are unable to write a single line that they can be pleased with.

In many cases these very same people make phenomenal advancements in writing music and melodies. However they just can't seem to figure out how to come up with suitable lyrics to match them.

If you are facing such a situation, there's probably no need to worry. By taking certain appropriate steps you should be able to overcome lyric writing hurdles and write songs that deliver.

(1) Here are some essential ideas for overcoming these hurdles.

1. Collaboration

If you're very good at writing melodies but can't seem to write a single line, one solution might be collaboration. Instead of beating your head against the wall for ideas, find someone who is very good at writing lyrics and work together. You may be surprised at the wonders that can emanate from a combination of his excellence at writing lyrics and your brilliance at writing melodies.

2. Lyric writing tools

Perhaps you may be hoping for some other solution. While you don't mind the idea of collaboration, you want to allow yourself to get better at writing lyrics, instead of leaving it to someone else.

As far as I'm concerned, the importance of laying hold on good songwriting "tools" should never be underestimated. Educate yourself as much as you can. Make use of songwriting books, programs, courses, software, articles or whatever valuable resources that you have at your disposal.

3. Motivation

You've probably heard it said a thousand times ... Without motivation, you won't go very far. This also applies to your lyric writing. While the songwriting "tools" outlined above can help you improve, without adequate motivation failure is inevitable.

(2) Here are a few tips to help you generate lyric writing ideas.

1. Use different lyrics to bring the same message across.

Choose a theme which is known to have made a few hits. What message does this theme bring across? Write different lyrics that bring the same message across. A typical example of this is John Denver's "I'm Leaving on a Jetplane" and Wyclef Jean's "Gone till November". These songs made hits in different eras. Their basic message was similar ... Baby, you don't need to cry because I'll return.


2. Add a unique twist to a cliche.

Turn on your radio and you will hear cliches being repeated over and over. Using these very same cliches is simply a futile exercise. My suggestion is to add a unique twist to these cliches. This is something I am focusing on more and more.

A typical example of adding a unique twist to a cliche is found in Dianne Warren's "Unbreak my Heart" made popular by Toni Braxton. The ever popular cliche, "break my heart", was twisted.

(3) Here are three lyric writing suggestions.

1. Write a song about a particular incident. Your song should tell a story.

2. Write lyrics that have absolutely nothing to do with anything you've actually experienced.

3. Get lyric writing ideas from newspapers, magazines, movies, TV and so on.

Overcoming lyric writing hurdles involves a lot of determination, hard work and perseverance on your part. Implement the suggestions presented above and move one step closer to lyric writing success.

About the Author
Mantius Cazaubon offers lots of valuable songwriting tips, suggestions and advice on his site UltimateSongwriting .com.
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Harp N Guitar Lessons Online

So, You Want To Collaborate? The Key to Success For Songwriters

by Alex Forbes Copyright 2006 Alex Forbes

Collaborating is one of the most rewarding and productive activities a songwriter can engage in. It's also one of the most challenging. Co-writing will stretch you in ways you can't even imagine up front.

Take a look at the Billboard Singles charts, and you'll notice that the vast majority of hit songs were written by 2 or more writers. Why? Because many songwriters have discovered that the collaborative whole is far greater than the sum of the solo-writing parts. We're all human, with strong suits we can capitalize on, as well as weaknesses we can supplement with the strengths of others.

Many artists find that writing alone year after year is limiting. The jack-of-all-trades approach may produce flashes of brilliance, but solo writers often find themselves stuck in a rut.

If you're feeling the urge to merge with other talent, first take a hard look at yourself as a songwriter from an objective standpoint. Picture your next co-writing appointment as a potluck -- what will you bring to the party?

* Are you passionate, enthusiastic, hard-working, and fun?

* Are you willing to commit time, energy, money, and your heart to the worthy cause of making great music?

* Do you have unique talents and powerful things to say in your songs?


* Are you willing to give and listen to constructive feedback?

* Are you familiar with the ground rules and terminology of your chosen field?

and, most importantly:

* Have you generated a body of work that shows off your strong suits as a writer?



How can you attract quality co-writers? First of all, let's face it, most successful, talented writers aren't looking to pull you up by the bootstraps. However, many will want to collaborate if it looks like they'll get something of value from the partnership. Therefore your job is to create material that other writers think will contribute to their success.

And keep in mind that most people to want to work with partners who have achieved a comparable level of development. I can't expect Serena Williams to invite me over to play some tennis, or Tiger Woods to challenge me to a round of golf, until I work on my game just a wee bit more. Why should songwriting be any different?

Make it your goal to become a collaborator magnet. This means getting your contributions into the best possible shape before you walk in the door.

You will inevitably be judged by the actual goods you lay on the table. And if you're honest you'll admit you're weighing your potential collaborators the same way. This is as it should be. Look with an objective eye over your body of work thus far.

Do you have:

* Neatly typed lyrics, laid out in identifiable song form?

* Best versions of instrumental tracks, melodies, hooks and/or riffs?

* Lists of possible titles?

* A few potential "song starts?"

* Any finished songs professionally demoed?

These are the "calling cards" you will present to other songwriters and artists. You want to hone them rigorously so you can show them proudly, secure in their value -- not apologizing, cringing, or making excuses for their shortcomings. Isn't that the standard of quality you'd expect in return?

You "pay your dues" by polishing up your talents, your diamonds, to a bright sheen. Eventually, if you take your own gifts seriously, word will spread that you have something valuable to offer. This process is sometimes called "eating your way up the musical food chain." It doesn't happen overnight. There are no "quick fixes," as in any serious field of endeavor.

A few days of research can provide you with a wealth of opportunities. Here are some paths that have produced results for me, and I've collaborated with at least a hundred other writers since 1983:

* Take a songwriting class.

* Find a teacher, or better yet, a mentor.

* Start a local songwriting support group.

Ivacy VPN

* Hire or start a band, even if it's only for a limited number of gigs.

* Join a Performing Rights Organization (ASCAP, BMI, or SESAC in the U.S.)

* Check out programs offered by music business organizations such a The Songwriters Hall of Fame, The Recording Academy, Women In Music, Nashville Songwriters Association, etc.)

* Join the various online songwriting communities -- just Google it! offers a whole new realm of possibilites.

* Check local publications and listings for showcases, classified ads & open mics.


* Search the Internet for performers in your vein of music.

* Go to local music stores and check their bulletin boards, or put up your own sign.

* Post a free ad on

* Read or subscribe to music business publications.

You're only limited by your imagination and your level of commitment.

In summary, there's no such thing as a free lunch, but there is a delicious feast available if you're willing to tap the well of your own talents. How's that for a mixed metaphor?

Finally, I suggest people delve fearlessly into their deeper selves when they write songs. Listeners can always tell when you're being truthful and real.

In a nutshell:

* Write your truth, and write a LOT.

* Dare to write gad-awful songs in the quest for the brilliant ones.

* Create a support team that will hold you to higher standards.

* Develop your strengths and supplement your weaknesses as a writer, player, singer and engineer.

* Read the books, do the exercises, subscribe to the publications... know your field!

* Participate to the hilt, creating relationships with a variety of potential partners.

Together let's raise the level of songs in the world, so that these become the good old days of music again!
About the Author
Visit creativesongwriter .com for professional coaching, consulting and song critiques with Alex Forbes.

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   by Ian Waugh

   You know what they say about rules? Actually they say lots of things about rules but here's two - rules were made to be broken, and you have to know what the rules are before you can break them. While Judge Dredd may not agree with the first, the second is certainly true and nevermore so than in writing a song.


 The song structure may not be the first thing you think about when you start writing. You probably work on the verse or chorus, or maybe you have a good riff that you want to expand into a song. So you get that down and then you start to think about the other parts - the intro, how many verses, middle eight, do you want an instrumental, the ending...

Some song genres have a fairly rigid format, others are more flexible, and you need to know where you can bend the rules and why you may not want to do so in order to make your song stand out from the others. Let's look at the sections you'll find in most songs and the part they play in song construction.

Song parts

Intro. Yes, this leads you into the song. It may be two, four or eight bars long or longer. Some songs don't have any intro at all. A pop song intro will often be reminiscent of the chorus or the hook. In a club song, it's often a good idea to have eight bars of rhythm to help the DJ to mix match your song. They say that music publishers typically only listen to the first 20 seconds of a song before deciding whether to reject it so if you're sending material to a publisher, keep the intro short and get into the song as quickly as possible. Save the 5 minute intros for the CD version.

Verse. This is the preamble to the chorus. It sets the scene, certainly lyrically, and as the verses progress they often tell a story or recount episodes from a situation although that's by no means essential. They are typically eight or sixteen bars long and melodically not usually as strong as the chorus although, again, that's by no means essential. However, it often seems as if the songwriter ran out of ideas when writing the verse. One of the strengths of The Beatles' songs is that verses and choruses are equally strong and most people could hum or sing their way through most Beatles hits. Not so with many songs where the verses are little more than fillers to get you to the chorus.

Chorus. This the bit everyone remembers, whistles and sings along to. It should be the strongest part of the song and generally is or contains the hook. It's usually eight or sixteen bars long.

Middle eight. As a song progresses, there's a danger of boredom setting for the listener. The middle eight offers them a break and typically comes after a couple of verses and choruses. Some people think of it as an alternative verse and that's one way to look at it. It often modulates to a different key or introduces a new chord progression and it usually doesn't include the song title. However, all too often it's simply an excuse for waffling on for a few bars. Although it's called the middle eight it could be four or sixteen bars long.

Bridge. Many people use the terms 'middle eight' and 'bridge' synonymously and so popular is this usage that it would be churlish to disagree. However, among those who prefer to note the difference, a bridge is a short section used to bridge the gap between verse and chorus. It may only be two or four bars long and it's often used when the verse and chorus are so different from each other that a 'joining' phrase helps bring them together.

Instrumental. This is part of the song without any vocals. Yeah, okay. It's often an instrumental version of the verse or chorus, it may be an improvised variation on one of these, or it may be an entirely different tune and set of chords altogether. Sometimes it fits into a song where a vocal middle eight would otherwise go.

Breakdown/Break. This term has been high jacked from songs from the early 1900s when it was common to either to reduce the instrumentation or stop it altogether while a tap dancer would strut his stuff. The term 'break' is still sometimes used to indicate an instrumental section. 'Breakdown' is now most commonly used in dance music for the section where the percussion breaks down or is reduced, and it may be the dance equivalent of the middle eight.

Outro/Ending. Once upon a time, songs had definite endings but the mid 1950s heralded in the era of the fade-out and songwriters thought they would never have to write an ending again. However, fade-outs became such cliches to the extent that fade out meant cop out so songwriters started writing endings again. With that in mind, you can do as you wish, and considering that the endings of most songs get talked over or cut short by radio DJs and mixed over by club DJs, you have only your artistic integrity and your CD listeners to answer to. Some songs work extremely well with fade outs but listen to songs in your chosen genre to see how other writers approach endings. But whatever you do, avoid like the plague the three time tag ending.


Hook. The hook is not a song part as such; rather it's the term used to describe the part of the song that people remember and sing. It's what they buy the record for. It's usually the chorus although it need not be the entire chorus, but simply a two- or four-bar phrase. It could be an instrumental riff as in Whiter Shade of Pale or Smoke on the Water, or a processed vocal as in Cher's Believe  

All together now

Having described the parts of a song, let's see how they are commonly arranged. The most popular arrangement by far is simply verse-chorus and repeat. Here are two variations on the theme:

Verse 1
Verse 2

Intro / Verse 1 / Verse 2 /Chorus / Verse 3  / Middle eight / Chorus / Chorus / Outro

You get the picture. However, these are conventions rather than rules so you can adapt, change or ignore them as you see fit. But they have developed for a reason and that is simply to make the song as immediately appealing to the listener as possible.

Listen to some of the Stock, Aitken and Waterman hits of the 80s (it's not compulsory if you really can't bear to) and you'll see that most follow the simplest format, guaranteed to brainwash the listener with as many repeats of the hook as possible. They tend to be:

Intro (similar to the chorus) / Verse 1 / Chorus / Verse 2 / Middle eight / Chorus / Chorus / Outro

Notice that the hook's there straight away in the intro, there's only one verse before the chorus so you get to it quicker, and the chorus tends to repeat at the end, just to imprint the hook firmly in your mind.  

There are obvious exceptions to these formats. Ambient, trance, chill-out music and the like, are obvious candidates. With these you can start at the beginning and work through to the end creating an evolving music form without any clear verse/chorus structure. Genres such as trance tend to build to a series of crescendos several times throughout the song. However, even these types of song often have a hook or two on which listeners can hang their hat.

Build ups and downs

Bearing in mind that the purpose of a song is to keep the listeners listening and not allow them to get bored, you need variety within the song. Simply strumming a guitar and singing verse/chorus/verse/chorus won't cut the mustard unless you're in a folk club. The usual method is to start with a simple arrangement and add to it as the song progresses.


So, the first verse might consist of light drums, bass and rhythm guitar. As you move into the second verse you could add strings or a synth pad. A drum fill takes you into the chorus which would include busier drums, maybe some additional percussion, a fuller string arrangement and perhaps a lead line. When you dip back to the verse, you revert to the simpler arrangement.

The middle eight is usually a lighter arrangement than the chorus and gives you the opportunity to use different instrumentation if you want to. When you hit the second chorus, add backing vocals and a lead riff. The final chorus is the culmination the song and you can add more backing vocals, more percussion and additional lead lines.

Listen to songs in the style you are writing and analyse their formats to see how far other exponents have stuck to or departed from the traditional formats. when you're familiar with the rules or conventions that they use, then you can experiment by breaking them.

There's lots more about making music plus a free book to download at making-music .com

Ian Waugh is one of the UK's leading hi tech music writers and creator of  making-music .com He has written for most of the major - and not so major - hi tech music magazines in the UK and many general computing titles both offline and online.

His output numbers over 2,000 articles, features and reviews and he has written several books and albums. He is author of the "Quick Guide to..." series which includes the Quick Guide to Dance Music, Digital Audio Recording, MP3 and Digital Music, and Analogue Synthesis.     TOP of Page  Image6.gif (10472 bytes) 

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