To teach yourself to be a better songwriter, listen to all kinds of music. And I don’t mean putting music on in the background. I’m talking about active listening or study.

Try something out of your comfort zone, something you might not even especially enjoy or a genre you don’t know anything about. For many of us, that would include classical. Let me recommend a new CD called The Mozart Album. You can get an exclusive first listen free (the entire CD) at NPR.

If you’re already familiar with classical music, try punk, metal, polka, bluegrass, folk, jazz, reggae or whatever seems most outside your normal listening parameters. I’m not suggesting you’ll learn to like it, only that you will learn about composition.

When you listen, try to figure out why the song works (or not). And break it down. For example, you might ask ‘how did the writer make the emotion build and peak in the chorus, and how did he/she transition to a less intense passage after the chorus?’ Ask questions like, why did the writer choose that type of lyric or that intro and see if you can answer them.


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2 Responses to “Listen”

  1. Pasquale Says:

    I’ve keep a couple of your postings and I apply most of your recommendations already. How can I keep updated with your blog? That would be awesome.

  2. Dan Says:

    The easiest way to get notified of new posts is to subscribe to the feed. If you’re unfamiliar with RSS feed, check out this 3 minute video called RSS in Plain English.

    In the address bar (where you type the http://www.blah blah, you’ll see a Feed icon. It’s usually orange squarish thing. If you put your mouse pointer on it, it will say “Subscribe to this page…” Click it and you’ll be prompted to add it to your current Feed Reader or if you don’t have one, to create a Feed Reader.

    Once it’s set up, you’ll get a notice in your Feed Reader, every time there is new content on our page. Optionally, you can have the Feed Reader send you an email every time the page is updated.

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