Songwriting – Food For Thought

By Devlon Horne
In May 17, 2017

Every song is different – different words, different chords and different melodies. If parts of a song sound similar to one another then lawyers step in. But when you think about songwriting and the way songs are constructed, you might say that they have more similarities than differences. Dig out the chord sheet and lyrics for the last song you wrote and play it through. Chances are, it’s in the time signature of 4/4, three to four minutes in length, features the title in the chorus, has four-bar sections and stays in one key throughout. The chord changes probably occur on the barline or the half barline and there are two or three verses with rhymes at the end of each line. Even if it doesn’t have all of these characteristics, it probably has most of them. Almost all successful songs do.

There’s no law that says we have to write songs within these constraints and yet we keep coming back to them. Why should this be? One theory is: thousands of new songs are created every day with different characteristics. Music fans `select’ through CD purchase, gig attendance, downloads, viral sharing, etc. the songs with the characteristics that appeal to them the most. Most new songs don’t become popular ie, they `die out’, while only a minority ‘survive’. In interviews, songwriters love talking about their influences. When we write songs, we’re affected by all the music we’ve ever heard. Chuck Berry was to the Rolling Stones, as the Stones was to Primal Scream. When we write songs, we add new creative ideas to the mix. If enough people like our new song, it might become a success and go on to influence other songwriters. Of course, extreme ideas are constantly being tried. New songs might have long durations, non-rhyming lyrics and unusual time signatures, particularly in specialist genres such as metal or progressive. But take a look at any list of classic favourites. Hardly any of them feature these characteristics, but they very often have some slightly quirky feature that makes them different enough to avoid cliché but not so ‘far out’ that music fans walk away.

So the next time you’re with your Guitar Excellence instructor ask him about various ways to improve your songwriting.


Subscribe to our newsletter here –…

© Guitar Excellence 2016 All Rights Reserved


Profile photo of Devlon Horne

*Has over 10 000 hours teaching experience *He has played locally and abroad for original & cover bands *Has biceps 3 times the size of an acoustic guitar's fretboard radius *Graduated top of his class at Damelin Contemporary School of Music

Leave A Comment