Six Tips For Basic Songwriting – A Video

Here is a video that really impressed me with the directness of its message. It comes from a singer/songwriter named Kyle Erwin and it’s called “Six Tips For Basic Songwriting.”

Now I’ve been writing songs for a while now and most of the information that I come across online is stuff that I already know or have experienced however, there was something that I found in this video that I wasn’t aware of and now will incorporate into my own songwriting process.

It’s not often that this happens hence why I want to share this video with all of you.

On his blog, Kyle also has his “Six Tips For Basic Songwriting” as a post and cleverly links to it from his video to save you writing down notes on the information he imparts.

He also mentions about a product for the iPad called Music Memos. I’ve actually downloaded that and have been playing around with it. I’ll see if I can do a review of it in a future post.

Anyway, enjoy this video and remember, if there’s anything that you’d like to share with me regarding any of the information presented on the video just let me know.

Until next time, keep on writing,

Corey Stewart
All About Songwriting

Using A Random Image As A Songwriting Prompt

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We songwriters are very sensory creatures and we have been known to use a variety of stimuli to kick off our songwriting process.

I have, in previous posts mentioned that listening to music or reading some poetry might be a good way to find some inspiration but I have not yet discussed whether a random image could spark off a songwriting idea or two.

So, with that in mind, try this songwriting exercise and see what you can come up with…

1. Go to any one of these random image generators

2. Go with the first image that is presented to you.

3. Start writing in point-form/long-hand your thoughts, feelings and detailed descriptions of what you see. Use all of your senses and your imagination. Give yourself a time limit if you like (say ten minutes).

4. Once you’re finished ask yourself… “Can I write a song from all this?”

Give this songwriting exercise a really good go, put your everything into it and write down as much as you can. The more information the better.

Doing this will train your eyes to really observe what it sees rather than just to casually look at something and by writing everything that you see down you’re giving yourself an excuse and a reason to write.

By eliminating choice through randomness you’re dismantling your inner critics tendency to become paralysed by too much choice.

If nothing comes of it don’t worry, the exercise might have been the very thing that break your songwriting block however, if something comes from it then let me know. I’d be interested to see if my theory works.

Until next time, happy writing,

Corey Stewart
All About Songwriting

The Role Of Different Song Sections (Plus Examples)

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Today, I found the perfect accompanying article for my recent 6-Part Series On Song Formatting that I wanted to share with you all.

It was written by Benjamin Samama (a former teacher from the Berklee College of Music) for the very popular SonicBids blog and the article is called “Songwriting 101: What’s The Purpose Of All The Different Song Sections?”

I found this article most useful for two main reasons:

1. It defined the different song sections clearly and concisely
Reading these definitions made me understand a little bit more the precise interplay between a verse and a chorus, or a chorus and a bridge.

2. It gives at least two video examples for every song section
Having the video examples on hand to listen to really drove home to me the reasons why different song sections exist. It also sharpens your ear when you listen other songs as part of your song formatting research.

Benjamin’s goal of his article is to give us a well rounded understanding of the different types of sections that can appear in a song form. He writes…

“… I’ll give you an overview of the different sections of a song, and the purpose each one of them serves. I’ll be using mostly pop music examples, since it’s straightforward and easiest for illustrating these kinds of concepts.”

You might not like the songs used in the examples but they do help you understand the different song sections better.

Have a read of the article “Songwriting 101: What’s The Purpose Of All The Different Song Sections?” And as always, let me know what you think.

I’d be interested to see your take on how you use the different song sections in your songwriting.

Until next time, keep on writing,

Corey Stewart
All About Songwriting

Songwriting 101 – #6: The Hook

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This is a series of posts about song formatting and structure. All this week I’ll be writing about the different individual elements that make up a song.


Go to #1 – The Chorus

Go to #2 – The Verse

Go to #3 – The Melody

Go to #4 – The Bridge

Go to #5 – Intro’s & Outro’s


Please bear in mind that these are my definitions and interpretations of the different parts of a song structure. There are no hard and fast rules determining which part of a song goes where.

However, there are generally accepted guidelines. Think of this Songwriting 101 series as the “nuts and bolts” of putting your songs together.

You’ve been refining your songwriting process and you’ve come up with some great ideas and now you are ready to put them all together.

Your journey starts now…


In this the last post in the Songwriter 101 series we’re going to talking today about the HOOK.

The hook is the most important aspect of song construction. It’s the very thing that captures the attention and the imagination of your listening audience the most.

It’s that certain something in a song that enables your brain to keep remembering it long after the song has stopped playing.

Think about it, have you ever had a song spinning around in your head that you just can’t get rid of? Has anyone mentioned a name of a song and all of a sudden you’re humming along a section of it in your head?

If this has happened to you (as it happens to me all the time) then you’ve been influenced by the almighty hook.

In the first instance, the songwriter determines what the hook is but then what the listening audience determines as the hook of the song may be a completely different thing however, if you write a hook that both you and your audience gravitate to then you’re halfway there in creating a song that people want to listen to over and over again.

According to an article written by John Braheny on the TAXI website there are four types of hooks.

  • Structural
  • Instrumental
  • Story
  • Production

For me, reading this article opened my eyes a little bit more to song construction as a whole and I’ve been writing songs for years. As John says in his article…

“… hooks are essential in commercial music. They are points of reference that keep us interested and focused on the song. They’re devices that help us remember and an entertainment in themselves.”

It just goes to show that we are never too old to learn anything new.

The reason why I say that the hook is the most important aspect of songwriting is that as songwriters we want our creations to be remembered, played and listened to over and over again.

The hook is the very thing that will achieve this goal for us. If you give your listener something to remember your song by, it will be with them for a very long time.

A hook can be the chorus line that is repeated many times for effect or a really cool bridge section that makes the listeners ears stand up and take more notice of your song.

A hook can be a lyrical or a musical motif that once heard will never be forgotten or it can also be something that is added to in the studio as the song is taking shape.

Sharpen up your hooks and catch a few listeners with them. Can you think of any great examples of a killer hook. Feel free to let me know.

Until next time, happy writing,

Corey Stewart
All About Songwriting

PS: Read John Braheny’s article here

Songwriting 101 – #5: Intro’s And Outro’s

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This is a series of posts about song formatting and structure. All this week I’ll be writing about the different individual elements that make up a song.


Go to #1 – The Chorus

Go to #2 – The Verse

Go to #3 – The Melody

Go to #4 – The Bridge


Please bear in mind that these are my definitions and interpretations of the different parts of a song structure. There are no hard and fast rules determining which part of a song goes where.

However, there are generally accepted guidelines. Think of this Songwriting 101 series as the “nuts and bolts” of putting your songs together.

You’ve been refining your songwriting process and you’ve come up with some great ideas and now you are ready to put them all together.

Your journey starts now…


If you break a song down to it’s most basic structure you’ll find it’s just like any other type of writing. There is a beginning, a middle and an end.

How a song starts and finishes is just as important as what happens in the middle (especially if you’re performing your song live).

Today I want to write about INTRO’S and OUTRO’S. Let’s start off with the Introducton.

The introduction sets up the vocal melody and the primary musical arrangement of the song. It shouldn’t be too long otherwise it will ‘overstay it’s welcome’ with the listener.

An average song intro is four to eight bars in length.

There are of course exceptions to every rule. Led Zeppelin’s “Stairway To Heaven” has a sixteen bar introduction however, this is needed to map out the complex (and timeless) musical arrangement of this epic tune.

The introduction motif for your song can happen only once at the benning or can appear a number of times.

It can double as the breathing space between verse and chorus, it can form the basis of your bridge section or, it can be the bridge between a major and minor tonality.

For instance, your introduction maybe in A minor and your verse is in it’s relative major key which is C.

Now for the Outro.

An “outroduction” (not sure if this is a real word or not but I like it anyway) is a section that signifies the end of a song is approaching.

It can be as simple as a repeating of the chorus, of the hook-line or it can be just like a bridge, a departure giving the listener one last surprise before the end of the song is upon them.

An example of an outro would be the repeated “sending out an SOS” line at the end of “Message In A Bottle” by The Police.

It’s always good practise to let the listener know where the beginning, middle and the end of your songs are. Intro’s and outro’s are a good way to let the listener know where their ears are taking them.

Do you have any other examples of really good intro’s and outro’s? Feel free to let me know.

Until next time, happy writing,

Corey Stewart
All About Songwriting

Songwriting 101 – #4: The Bridge

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This is a series of posts about song formatting and structure. All this week I’ll be writing about the different individual elements that make up a song.


Go to #1 – The Chorus

Go to #2 – The Verse

Go to #3 – The Melody


Please bear in mind that these are my definitions and interpretations of the different parts of a song structure. There are no hard and fast rules determining which part of a song goes where.

However, there are generally accepted guidelines. Think of this Songwriting 101 series as the “nuts and bolts” of putting your songs together.

You’ve been refining your songwriting process and you’ve come up with some great ideas and now you are ready to put them all together.

Your journey starts now…


Today I’m going to be talking about the BRIDGE and let me tell you, I do love a good bridge.

There’s something about how a bridge takes you to somewhere else in a song and then gently back to the familiarity of a verse or chorus that makes it a very important piece of your songwriting armoury.

Good bridges are hard to find and are even harder to write. It’s not enough to just write a departure from what you’re creating with your verses and choruses.

The departure has to be purposeful. It needs to have some sort of meaning and reason behind it.

Lyrically a bridge can introduce another point of view, be an extension of the song story or even be a devil’s advocate to it.

Musically it can be whatever you want it to be however there are a couple of things to consider:

1. Make sure the entry and exit points of the bridge are seamless.
Take into consideration the melody, rhythm and flow of the song. This is what I mean about the bridge being purposeful

2. Don’t make the bridge too long.
This is not a time to introduce a second movement to your song. Generally bridges are between eight and sixteen bars in length (if its eight bars in length it can also be called a ‘middle eight’)

Bridges add character and uniqueness to your songs. They break up monotony and pleasantly surprise the listener or possibly prepare them for a key change.

A great example of a great bridge is the one in “Every Breath You Take” by The Police.

Sting is a master at writing bridges and in this song he switches tonality and presents a 10 bar bridge that lyrically shifts the perspective of the song while at the same time seamlessly moves from one tonality to another.

Here is the song for you to listen to. The bridge starts at at 1:23

If you want your songs to spring into life, now is the time to start learning the art of a good bridge.

What other examples of bridges or middle 8’s do you consider to be masterful. Feel free to let me know.

Until next time, happy writing,

Corey Stewart
All About Songwriting

Songwriting 101 – #3: The Melody

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This is a series of posts about song formatting and structure. All this week I’ll be writing about the different individual elements that make up a song.


Go to #1 – The Chorus

Go to #2 – The Verse


Please bear in mind that these are my definitions and interpretations of the different parts of a song structure. There are no hard and fast rules determining which part of a song goes where.

However, there are generally accepted guidelines. Think of this Songwriting 101 series as the “nuts and bolts” of putting your songs together.

You’ve been refining your songwriting process and you’ve come up with some great ideas and now you are ready to put them all together.

Your journey starts now…


Today we’re going to talk about MELODY.

In a song it’s the melody that binds everything together. It’s almost like a song is created to enable the melody to stand out for everyone to hear.

In my experience, a really good musical arrangement has been ruined by a poor melody whereas a great melody has saved many a poor arrangement. That’s how important a great melody is for your songwriting.

It took me a long time to realize that melody is supreme.

The melody is what the listener remembers. It’s what they hum or whistle to while listening in the car for example.

A great melody is something that gets stuck in a listener’s head and gets them frustrated beyond belief. It’s what defines your song as being yours alone (regardless of what instrumentation and arrangement idea you choose to use) and makes your song stand out from the rest of the music that’s being played today.

A lot of songwriters I know get themselves all tied up in knots when trying to come up with an original chord structure or some sort of amazingly inspired riff to get them started on a potential song.

For these songwriters their process becomes a never-ending battle to try and come up with something totally original as they feel that going down the same old paths will bore their listening audience..

I say that if you have a great melody it almost doesn’t matter what chords fit with it, even if it is only three chords. A good melody has the power to bring out the emotions that you want the listener to experience.

As with anything in songwriting there are no hard and fast formulaic rules for coming up with great melodies however the lyrics of a song can give you clues as to where your melody could be going.

In my own songwriting process, melodies come to me in two distinct ways:

1. Little snippets based on a phrase that pops into my head.
The rhythm of that phrase pretty much determines the melody that comes out. I constantly write lists of possible song titles so coming up with a phrase to work on can be as easy as looking at one of my lists.

2. Noodling whatever comes into my head on my guitar.
After the initial spark then the building process begins. Is the song going to be a sad, thoughtful, contemplating or happy one? Is the melody consisting of short notes, long languishing notes or a mixture of both? Is it a soaring anthemic piece or an intimate piece?

One of the best things you can do to tune your ears to good melodies is to start listening to a lot of music. A good exercise is to write down a list of your ten favourite songs and really listen to the melody.

As you’re listening write down what it is about the melody that touches, moves and inspires you. Does the melody send a shiver up your spine? Write it down. What you’re doing is pinpointing what moves you.

This will make it easier to write melodies that make you say “WOW!”

Writing songs can be a juggling act sometimes. You have a lyric here, a melody there, a half finished chorus, a riff that needs a home. However, if you concentrate on the melody of the song you will find that the juggling act becomes a lot easier to manage.

That’s why I say that melody is very thing that binds all of your song elements together.

What do you think about what I’ve mentioned here about melody? Does it resonate with you or, do you have a different opinion? Feel free to let me know.

Until next time, happy writing,

Corey Stewart
All About Songwriting

Songwriting 101 – #2: The Verse

acousticguitar2verse

This is a series of posts about song formatting and structure. All this week I’ll be writing about the different individual elements that make up a song.


Go to #1 – The Chorus


Please bear in mind that these are my definitions and interpretations of the different parts of a song structure. There are no hard and fast rules determining which part of a song goes where.

However, there are generally accepted guidelines. Think of this Songwriting 101 series as the “nuts and bolts” of putting your songs together.

You’ve been refining your songwriting process and you’ve come up with some great ideas and now you are ready to put them all together.

Your journey starts now…


Here’s the second installment of my Songwriting 101 series on my definitions of the different building blocks of a song.

Today it’s all about the VERSE.

In my first installment in this series I mentioned that if…

“… the chorus of a song is the destination then the verses are the journey towards it.”

Verses set up the foundation for where the chorus sits on top. If you can make the verses of your songs flow towards a killer chorus then you are halfway there in creating a song that people will have no choice but to listen.

Verses lay down the foundation of a song by allowing the songwriter room to tell the story or set the scene of the song. Character development can also happen in the verses too.

If the chorus, being the main focal point of the song, can be likened to the answer of a question, then the verses are the questions themselves.

Verses set up the arrival of the chorus both lyrically and melodically therefore, they’re repetitious in nature. The melody generally stays the same while the lyrics change underneath.

Personally, I like verses to be rhythmically flowing and full of purpose. You don’t want to detract the listener from the build up to a chorus that’s about to arrive.

Verses should create a really good contrast so the chorus will stand out even more. For instance, if you have a chorus that’s anthemic in nature then your verses need to be almost understated.

Creating this contract will enable the listener to inherently know that a chorus is about to arrive. The more anticipation you can build up the better, just make sure that you have a chorus that is able to give the listener the release they’re looking for.

Verses are not meant to be complete in themselves. They are meant to be leading somewhere. It’s important for songwriters to realise that verses and choruses are very different to each other.

I hear many songs that suffer from a lack of distinction between a verse and a chorus. It’s like the songwriter is saying to the listener “This section here must be a chorus because it comes after a verse”.

Songwriters need to understand the relationship that verses and choruses have with each other. Verses are just as important as choruses but a great chorus can be spoiled by a grandstanding verse so the balance needs to be in the writing.

Verses are the roadmaps of your song. Start giving your listener the directions that they need to get the most out of your songs.

What do you think constitutes a great verse or can you name some examples? Feel free to let me know.

Until next time, happy writing,

Corey Stewart
All About Songwriting

Songwriting 101 – #1: The Chorus

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This is a series of posts about song formatting and structure. All this week I’ll be writing about the different individual elements that make up a song.

Please bear in mind that these are my definitions and interpretations of the different parts of a song structure. There are no hard and fast rules determining which part of a song goes where.

However, there are generally accepted guidelines. Think of this Songwriting 101 series as the “nuts and bolts” of putting your songs together.

You’ve been refining your songwriting process and you’ve come up with some great ideas and now you are ready to put them all together.

Your journey starts now…


To kick this series off, I want to write about the most important part of a song’s structure, the all important CHORUS.

The chorus is generally the focal point of the song. It’s what the listener usually remembers long after the song has finished. It is where the hook, the title or the main story idea of the song usually resides.

Don Walker, keyboard player and principal songwriter of seminal Australian band Cold Chisel when asked about the importance of a chorus once said that “the quicker you get to the point the better.”

To me the chorus is like the destination and the rest of the song is the journey towards it.

A chorus is meant to be the uplifting part of the song, something which stands out from everything else and is powerful enough to get people to sing or hum along to it.

In the creation of a song, most songwriters come up with a chorus before anything else. I think this is because the chorus is like the synopsis or the summary of the song.

I’m amazed though at how many songwriters don’t pay enough attention to the chorus.

From time to time I get asked to judge local songwriting contests and in the course of judging it’s far too often that I hear a “chorus” that sounds almost or exactly the same as their verses and that to me is a wasted opportunity to really grab the listener’s attention.

Choruses, more than any other part of a song, are most effective if there are minimal words in them, are melodically dynamic and are rhythmically streamlined and full of flow.

Songs can be saved by a cracking, stirring chorus.

Please bear in mind that I’m not here to tell you how many bars a chorus should run for or, how dynamic your chorus melody should be, that’s up to you to experiment with the songwriting ideas that you create.

All I’m doing is outlining some characteristics that you, the songwriter should be mindful of and after all, isn’t observation and mindfulness part of your songwriting process?

Listen to the songs that you’ve grown up with and pay close attention to the choruses of those songs. Chances are they are the very things that you had sung along to.

Have you ever had a song that enters your head and it just won’t go away? How annoying is that? What is the part of the song that is stuck in your mind?

Yes that’s right, the CHORUS.

What do you think constitutes a good chorus? Feel free to let me know, I’m all ears.

Until next time, happy writing,

Corey Stewart
All About Songwriting

All About Songwriting – I’m Back In 2016

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Recently I received an inquiry on Google+ asking if All About Songwriting was dead as there was no activity for a while. Well, in a way the enquirer was half right.

All About Songwriting was not necessarily dead but very much in limbo until I had the drive and energy to restart it with some new knowledge as to what to do with it.

I’m not going to delve too much into any personal issues that had prevented me from moving All About Songwriting forward except to say that right now I am in a far better position than I was when I put up my last post for All About Songwriting (January 9th, 2015) and because of that I can say with great confidence that “I’m back!”

I’m back with the internally created and externally curated articles about songwriting and the creative force that drives it and in future posts I can also introduce to you songwriting products, tools and services that will benefit you as much as they have benefited me.

I’m really excited.

As I mentioned in my very first post, I still want All About Songwriting to be a vehicle “… to help all songwriters at any level, expand on what songwriting knowledge they already have or to perhaps help beginning songwriters start off their songwriting journey in the right direction.”

From now on I’ll be able to do that again, so all that is left to say is that it’s all systems go… Let’s get on with it.

Until next time, keep on writing,

Corey Stewart
All About Songwriting