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Cheap Advice On Live Sound
48 Tips To Make Your Band Sound Better
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Mini-Tip: Write A Song In A Different Key

8:00 am Songwriting

When I sit down to come up with a chord pattern for a new song, I usually just start playing whatever pops into my head. When I hear something good emerge I keep playing that and gradually expand on it. Eventually I end up with the chords for a whole song. Great! You probably do this too. But sometimes I have a sneaky feeling of familiarity, like, how different is this really from that other song I just wrote? Could I be in a writing rut?

For me, the critical point is right at the beginning, the part where I play whatever pops into my head. The problem is, I tend to automatically start playing in one of a few “comfortable keys,” and as a result too many of my finished chord patterns are in A or D. But it’s not just the key itself that matters. There are habitual changes from one chord to another that I tend to follow if I don’t catch myself. After a Bm I tend to go to a G, and so on. Some of these personal habitual changes inevitably find their way into my songs.

What to do? Elementary, my dear Watson. Force yourself to start out in an unfamiliar key, like F#m or even just B. Then play whatever pops into your head. Deprived of your comfortable Bm-to-G-type changes, you will likely write a new song that really is new!

[An expanded version of this tip appears in my eBook, Cheap Advice On Songwriting.]

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