SONGWRITING TIPS AND ADVICE ON THE ESSENTIAL INGREDIENTS FOUND IN ALL HIT SONGS

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DISCLOSUREMost experienced songwriters recognize the importance of keeping each new song sounding fresh and different by creating plenty of variety in their chord progressions. They’re aware of the danger of writing songs that are all built around the same few notes, chords and keys—a criticism that is often leveled at electronic dance music (EDM).

Now, leading British electronic dance duo Disclosure—consisting of brothers Howard and Guy Lawrence—are aiming to change all that. Their mission, they say, is to bring greater depth to EDM by using song structures, writing processes and a wider range of chords that aren’t usually found in this genre.

“We’re trying to bring class and soul into the songwriting … using jazz chords that have emotion instead of boring, stabby EDM triads,” Howard Lawrence recently told Billboard magazine. “You can play [our song] ‘Latch’ in a massive nightclub or cover it in a jazz ensemble.”

His brother Guy Lawrence added: “There are acoustic guitar covers of [our song] ‘White Noise’ on YouTube. You can’t do that with your average house tune. The only thing that makes it dance music are the beats.”

Disclosure’s music is seen as a synthesis of house, pop and UK garage, with a strong emphasis on traditional song structure (their influences surprisingly include singer-songwriters Stevie Wonder, Peter Gabriel and Kate Bush).

“Our songs often feature a fat layer of choruses and verses instead of a big build up, a drop and a big pyro explosion usually found in EDM,” said Guy. “It’s more about the meaning of the song, the structure … it’s a little deeper.”

Disclosure may be breaking new ground in the EDM market, but they’re not the first to discover that you can enhance the feel of a song by using so-called ‘jazz chords’, such as thirds, fifths, sevenths, ninths, elevenths or thirteenths.

In the 1920s, the great George Gershwin reshaped popular music by taking jazz elements and certain harmonies and combining them with Tin Pan Alley pop in a way that hadn’t been done before.

In the modern era, ‘jazz chords’ such as ninths, elevenths and thirteenths are featured prominently in songs like Billy Joel’s ‘Just the Way You Are’, ‘Ebony and Ivory’ by Paul McCartney and Stevie Wonder, and Mariah Carey’s ‘Love Takes Time’.

Carole King’s classic song ‘I Feel the Earth Move’ even uses elevenths in a minor key!

Paul McCartney’s ‘Yesterday’—one of the most covered songs of all time—is a great example of how to make a simple tune harmonically interesting. The song doesn’t just feature ordinary majors, minors and sevenths; it also includes a mixture of fifths, thirds and seconds, and a couple of well-chosen variant chords.

“Even if chords are simple, they should rub,” says songwriting legend Jimmy Webb. “They should have dissonances in them.”

He adds: “I’ve always used a lot of alternate bass lines, suspensions, widely spaced voicings, and different textures to get very warm chords. Sometimes you set up strange chords by placing a chord in front of it that’s going to set it off like a diamond in a gold band.”

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“HOW [NOT] TO WRITE A HIT SONG! - 101 COMMON MISTAKES TO AVOID IF YOU WANT SONGWRITING SUCCESS” is available from Amazon as a paperback and also as an eBook from Amazon’s Kindle Store, Apple's iTunes Store, Barnes and Noble's Nook store, and from KoboBooks.com.How [Not] To Write A Hit Song! – 101 Common Mistakes To Avoid If You Want Songwriting Success” is available from Amazon as a US paperback, UK paperback and as an eBook from Amazon’s Kindle Store, Apple’s iTunes Store (Books/Arts & Entertainment/Music), Barnes & Noble’s Nook store, and from KoboBooks.

Read a FREE sample of the book HERE (USA),  HERE (UK),  HERE (Australia)  and HERE (Canada).

 


SAM SMITHEarlier this year, British soul singer-songwriter Sam Smith urged songwriters to be “a voice for lonely people“.

He pointed to what he sees as a gap in the music market for songs about “unrequited love”, instead of more common themes for love songs such as falling in love or breaking up.

Now Sam has released a video for a beautiful new song titled ‘Leave Your Lover’ which, he says, reflects the emotion of unrequited love in its rawest form.

“I don’t think unrequited love is spoken about enough in music,” says Sam. “I’ve been through unrequited love myself. I’ve been in love with someone who didn’t love me back and I found it hard to find songs that were about that.”

‘Leave Your Lover’ is from Sam Smith’s debut album In The Lonely Hour, released in the UK on May 26 and in the United States on June 17.

The album feature collaborations with Fraser T Smith, Two Inch Punch, Eg White, Disclosure, Zane Lowe, Tourist, and Sam’s long-time writing partner Jimmy Napes.

Here’s the official video for ‘Leave Your Lover’ …

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“HOW [NOT] TO WRITE A HIT SONG! - 101 COMMON MISTAKES TO AVOID IF YOU WANT SONGWRITING SUCCESS” is available from Amazon as a paperback and also as an eBook from Amazon’s Kindle Store, Apple's iTunes Store, Barnes and Noble's Nook store, and from KoboBooks.com.How [Not] To Write A Hit Song! – 101 Common Mistakes To Avoid If You Want Songwriting Success” is available from Amazon as a US paperback, UK paperback and as an eBook from Amazon’s Kindle Store, Apple’s iTunes Store (Books/Arts & Entertainment/Music), Barnes & Noble’s Nook store, and from KoboBooks.

Read a FREE sample of the book HERE (USA),  HERE (UK),  HERE (Australia)  and HERE (Canada).


SAM SMITHBack in January, Sam Smith—the hotly tipped British soul singer-songwriter—urged songwriters to be “a voice for lonely people“. He pointed to what he sees as a gap in the music market for songs about “unrequited love”, instead of more common themes for love songs such as falling in love or breaking up.

Sam said he intended to focus on this kind of love song on his debut album, In The Lonely Hour, which is due to be released in May.

“I don’t think unrequited love is spoken about enough in music,” said Sam who came top of the BBC’s Sound Of 2014 list and won the 2014 BRIT Critics’ Choice Award. “I’ve been through unrequited love myself and I found it hard to find songs that were about that.”

Now, Sam is emphasizing his point by releasing a new single, titled ‘Stay With Me’, which is an epic ballad of unrequited love, designed to tug at listeners’ heartstrings.

Released on May 18, the new single is seen as the perfect pre-cursor to the release of his album, In The Lonely Hour, which will feature collaborations with Fraser T Smith, Two Inch Punch, Eg White, Disclosure, Zane Lowe, Tourist, and Sam’s long-time writing partner Jimmy Napes.

Here’s the official video for ‘Stay With Me’ …

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“HOW [NOT] TO WRITE A HIT SONG! - 101 COMMON MISTAKES TO AVOID IF YOU WANT SONGWRITING SUCCESS” is available from Amazon as a paperback and also as an eBook from Amazon’s Kindle Store, Apple's iTunes Store, and Barnes & Noble's Nook store
How [Not] To Write A Hit Song! – 101 Common Mistakes To Avoid If You Want Songwriting Success” is available from Amazon as a US paperback, UK paperback and as an eBook from Amazon’s Kindle Store, Apple’s iTunes Store (Books/Arts & Entertainment/Music) and Barnes & Noble’s Nook store.

Read a FREE sample of the book HERE (USA) and HERE (UK).

 


Sam Smith, the hotly tipped British soul singer-songwriter, believes there is a gap in the market for songs about “unrequited love” instead of more common themes for love songs such as falling in love or breaking up.

Sam – who came top of the BBC’s ‘Sound Of 2014′ list and was nominated for the 2014 BRIT Critics’ Choice Award – recently told Emma Brown of Interview magazine: “I don’t think unrequited love is spoken about enough in music. I’ve been through it myself and I found it hard to find songs that were about that.”

He said he intends to focus on this kind of love song on his new album, In The Lonely Hour, which is due to be released in the spring.

“I’ve never been in love with someone who has loved me back,” he said. “So I wanted to write an album for people who have never been in love. I want to be a voice for lonely people.”

Sam explained that when he writes and records a song that lays out all of the raw emotion of everything he is going through, he often listens to the track at home when he’s feeling down. “And it somehow makes me feel better,” he said.

The great George Gershwin once described songwriting as “an emotional science” and there is actually a scientific reason why listening to sad songs can help to cheer us up.

According to a recent study by Japanese scientists, the reason we enjoy listening to sad music when we’ve had a negative experience is because it can actually evoke positive emotions in the brain.

In July 2013, researchers from Tokyo University of the Arts and the RIKEN Brain Science Institute in Japan discovered that melancholy tunes can stimulate romantic emotions as well as sad ones.

“Sad music might even help to alleviate negative emotion if a person is suffering from an unpleasant feeling caused by real life events,” explained Ai Kawakami from Tokyo University of the Arts.

He said: “Emotion experienced by music has no direct danger or harm unlike the emotion experienced in everyday life. Therefore, we can even enjoy unpleasant emotion such as sadness, possibly because the latter does not pose an actual threat to our safety. This could help people to deal with their negative emotions in daily life.”

Sam Smith performs an acoustic version of his song ‘Not In That Way’, recorded at Abbey Road Studios:


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How [Not] To Write A Hit Song! – 101 Common Mistakes To Avoid If You Want Songwriting Success” is available from Amazon as a paperback, or as an eBook from Amazon’s Kindle Store, Apple’s iTunes Store (Books/Arts & Entertainment/Music) and Barnes & Noble’s Nook store.

Read a FREE sample of the book HERE (USA),  HERE (UK), HERE (Australia) and HERE (Canada).