The other day, I gave you a few tips on songwriting that I’ve discovered over the years and rediscovered lately.
I enjoyed writing that email, and the feedback was great.
So here are a few more tips if you ever want to write a song (which I recommend everyone do) or you want to get better at the process, or you just want to jam.
It’s not how many chords you use, but what you do with them that counts – There are a tonne of great songs that use three or four chords throughout. This includes songs such as “Brown Eyed Girl”, “Stand by Me”, and “Good Riddance (Time of Your Life)”. Of course, there are many classic songs that use many more chords such as “Layla”, “Blackbird”, “Hotel California”, etc. The thing is though, a song only needs as many chords as it needs. Most beginner songwriters focus too much on chords and not on the other stuff, such as melodies and what you actually do with the chords.
Give a chord progression a new twist by starting on a different chord – Let’s take the G D Em C chord progression. This chord progression gets used a lot, especially with modern generic radio-friendly pop tunes. It still sounds great though, but a good way to freshen it up is to play the exact same chords but change the order slightly. For example, you could play G D Em C, or you could put the G at the end to have D Em C G. Small changes can make a subtle or sometimes big difference with chord progressions.
Find inspiration everywhere – A student inside my membership programme recently asked me to transcribe the TAB for a piece of music I jammed in a video. When I was transcribing the video, I realised how cool this sounded, so I turned this into a song. It sounded great. I was inspired by something that already existed. The point is, I didn’t try to write from scratch. You can take anything you’ve already written before and adapt it, tweak it, or merge it into something totally new.
When you sing, strip back the guitar – A lot of people make the mistake of trying to sing over complex guitar parts. By complex I mean it could be that the guitar has a tonne of stuff going on, or it could be a complex rhythm. Over the years, I’ve enjoyed watching bands such as Bush and singer/songwriters such as Damien Rice play. A lot of these guys tend to let the guitar part get really sparse when singing. I like this. Then when the singing stops, you can ramp the strumming up and show off your guitar skills.
Anyway, I hope you enjoyed those tips.
If you’re a strumming guitarist and you want to spice up any strumming song, then my paperback book will help.
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Enjoy your day!
P.S. This post was originally taken from Dan Thorpe’s private email list. To get blog posts like this sent to you which are full of great tips to make fingerpicking, strumming, and learning guitar more enjoyable (especially if you are over 40) join Dan’s list. It’s 100% free, HERE.