Sunday, September 11, 2011

Songwriter's Toolbox - Multiple Meanings (Bruce Springsteen)

How does a great writer layer meanings in their lyrics?  In "Into the Fire", Bruce Springsteen gives us a fantastic example.  Also, today is the tenth anniversary of the terrorist attacks in New York City and Washington, DC.  I'm sharing this amazing song (and the story behind it) as a remembrance of those who died that day - from office workers to passengers to police and fire fighters - and in the spirit of giving comfort to those who lost loved ones in those attacks.


Sunday, December 26, 2010

Songwriter's Toolbox - What are Modes?

The concept of "modes" perplexes many folks who love writing or listening to music. But the concept is actually very accessible. By examining a Persian mode used by Iranian-American songwriter Ali Eskandarian, I'll give you a quick and, hopefully, very understandable explanation (and demonstration) of what modes are.

Will this be useful for your own songwriting? While it might be too much to assume that a songwriter steeped in one musical tradition can quickly sound authentic in a new style, you might at the very least find elements of another form of music that could give you a new palette to work with in your songwriting. Music has a long tradition of mixing, sharing and remixing - in ports, international cities and, these days, by radio, TV and the Internet. And it's definitely a way that people from different cultures can find a common ground.

Saturday, November 13, 2010

Songwriter's Toolbox - Chord Power Progressions (Ryan Tedder, Kelly Clarkson "Already Gone")

Who wants an easy way to get new ideas for their songs? Who wants a good way to add power to their songs? Every songwriter I know, including me! Today we're going to talk about a tool called Chord Power Progressions that's used in the Kelly Clarkson Top 20 hit "Already Gone", co-written with Ryan Tedder.

The books I mention in this podcast are by Jimmy Kachulis. They're called Songwriter's Workshop: Harmony and Berklee In the Pocket: Essential Songwriter(co-written with Jonathan Feist). FYI: you can take courses in songwriting with Jimmy at (where I teach, too).

Sunday, July 25, 2010

Songwriter's Toolbox - Are Titles Massively Important? (Roseanne Cash)

I always knew that a song title was important. I just didn't realize how massively important! In this podcast, I share one of the most astonishing things I've learned about songwriting ever.

If you're interested in checking out the title categories (and maybe suggesting some of your own), I've posted this list on our website, on the "Forum" page.

Friday, March 5, 2010

Songwriter's Toolbox - Universal Human Experience (Dolly Parton)

What makes a song emotionally powerful? Most often, the impact comes from a special combination of melody, chords, groove and lyrics. With Dolly Parton's song "Coat of Many Colors", one element seems to stand out most: the lyrics.

By the way, thanks so much to all you podcast listeners who've emailed me to let me know how much you're enjoying this podcast. I'm so psyched it's valuable to you. It's truly inspiring to me and actually helps encourage me not only to keep writing the Song Toolbox but also to keep writing songs myself!

Wednesday, July 22, 2009

Songwriter's Toolbox - Lyric Writing - Character and Journey (Gillian Welch)

What makes a compelling song? Sometimes, it's the same thing that makes a compelling story: clearly defined characters who face obstacles that block their goals and the journey to overcome that opposition. Invariably, there's some lessons learned, too. It's a classic model for a story and a great way to write a song, too.