Sometimes people push back when you start talking about songwriting as a "craft", as opposed to referring to it as some type of a divine creative consciousness only certain people have.

There can be an automatic repulsion from some when you mention writing formulas, techniques, tools...Saying that there are formulas and techniques smacks of conformity to some people, and they will often mention the similarities found in something such as country music.  They would get no argument from me if their goal was to write purely for their own gratification in hopes they have a breakout song that is unique in everyway!

But what ABOUT conformity?  What about these formulas?  Why do they exist if they are so abhorrent to the creative process?  Simple: follow the crowd.  These formulas are actually another name for style.  Pandora's Music Genome Project exists to help define and recognize traits that are unique in all the genres and sub-genres of music.  Any particular song or production can have as many as 200-400 traits that define it's appeal.

Because at the end of the day, songwriting is the very same process you followed when you learned your instrument.  Your first note wasn't very pretty, but as you practiced over and over, repeating the same excersises, followed mentors and took lessons...and listened to your favorite performers hour after hour, you became good, then great.  Write everyday!  If you're stuck, pull out the "tools" and finish the song.  Become good and then great!   

"The most creative end of the pencil is the erasure" as the saying goes.

Why, because anyone can put pencil to paper and write, it's the one who can step back, critique their work, erase it and make it better that wins in the long run.


  1. You don't have to erase all of it
  2. Take what you erase and save it as inventory
  3. Challenge yourself
  4. Allow an idea to incubate
  5. Invite others to collaborate or just bounce it off them (be thick skinned)
  6. The creative process is constantly going on, whether (a) consciously set in motion (b) an example of unconscious creation (c) control is necessary (d) and that creation is first spiritual, then mental. (Thomas Troward, The Creative Process)
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Song form is two remarkable studies:  First, it gives you a very simple set of analytic tools (terminology) so you can listen to any song and get a better understanding of what it does and why it works and second, by using these options in your own writing it is a great starting point for your own song and then follow it with many iterations, each time pushing you to edit elements as listed further down in this article.

There is an entire industry standard terminology and functions list by clicking on the Read More button.  Enjoy

Terminology & Tools