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The Great Leap (In Melodies)

Recently Frank Ocean, a singer and songwriter, has become very popular very fast.  I read a few articles about him and decided to check him out.  On listening, the first thing that struck me was, this guy is really writing melodies.  Rangy melodies with bold leaps.  Of course, this is never mentioned in the ‘music […]

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Avoiding Songwriting Predictability

We’ve all heard thousands, maybe tens of thousands of songs.  Most of us now know, even if we’ve never given it a thought, more or less  what’s going to happen next in a song.  And the rhythm and phrasing of the melody is often the biggest culprit in this predictability. Here’s a comparison – When […]

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John Lennon: The Underrated Melodist

People love to categorize, and people particularly like to categorize in dualities – yin/yang, Apollo/Dionysius…  Lennon/McCartney, Jagger/Richards… or think of many couples you know, work or personal.  One is this… the other must be that. This is probably why some don’t stay together (including L/M?) – they feel choked by their role; it doesn’t really […]

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‘It’s Having A Good Idea For A Song That’s Hard’

Lyle Lovett recently said, “I’ve always thought that writing isn’t really that hard. It’s having a good idea that’s hard.”  I can’t always agree with the first half of his statement, but I think I understand what he means by the second. One of the most disappointing things in Songwriting is to spend a lot […]

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One Way To Break the ‘Rules’ of Songwriting: Iron & Wine’s ‘The Trapeze Swinger’

There aren’t really any ‘rules’ to Songwriting. Maybe one: Don’t bore the listener. But there are traditions and customs, things that tend to work better than others, mostly having to do with the use of structure – Verses, Choruses, Bridges, rhyming, length, etc. But one thing I’ve noticed is that when I analyze a song […]

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The Delicate Balance: Music & Lyrics

Every song, by definition, balances music and lyrics.  How well a song works often has to do with how well that balance is struck. On the spectrum of great songwriting, I think of Burt Bacharach and Hal David as being at one extreme.  Complicated music, direct lyrics.  The simple perfection of David’s lyrics can often […]

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The Melodies of Adele

Much has been made of the recent success of Adele – her powerful singing, throwback soulfulness, old school production, emotional directness… All true, but what struck me right away about her songs was the length and legato quality of her melodies – unusual in an era where singing (particularly on strongly rhythmic songs) is more […]

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