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Writing Better Songs

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Writing Better Songs
Have you ever stopped for a moment to imagine just how many songs, in total, have been written? Consider... many thousands of years of songwriting, countless millions of songwriters during that period... there must literally have been billions of songs penned.

What aspiring songwriters need to do is stop and ask themselves this question: "What can I do to make my songs stand out from all the others?" In this multi-segment feature, we'll try to go about answering that question.

Types of Songs

Most songs written in the last one hundred years can be loosely grouped into one of several categories; songs written around a chord progression, songs written around a melody, or songs written around a riff.

Songs Written Around a Chord Progression - A favored method of songwriting by musicians like Stevie Wonder, the concept of writing around a chord progression involves initially creating an interesting series of chords, and then basing the vocal melody on that chord progression.

Songs Written Around a Melody - This is probably the most common method of songwriting for pop writers. The composer starts with a vocal melody, and around that melody creates a chord progression and song arrangement.

Songs Written Around a Riff - The emergence of the guitar as a "lead" instrument helped create this method of songwriting. These songs are born out of a guitar (or other type of instrumental) riff, after which a vocal melody (which often mimicks the guitar riff) and chord progression are added. "Sunshine of Your Love" is a perfect example of a riff-based song.

This week, in Part I of this feature, we'll examine songs written around a chord progression.

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