Album Listening: 2015

Although it seems silly to say, it has to be said over and over again: Listening to new music is one of the best ways for improving your songwriting skills. It will not only allow you to get your creative juices flowing again, but it can ultimately lead to a ton of inspiration in adding new ideas and concepts in your own songs. Give some of my favorite 2015 albums a try:

Number 10

Artist: CHVRCHES

Album: Every Open Eye

Top Tracks: Leave A Trace, Clearest Blue, Down Side Of Me

Number 9

Artist: Failure

Album: The Heart is a Monster

Top Tracks: Counterfeit Sky, Atom City Queen, Petting the Carpet

Number 8

Artist: God is an Astronaut

Album: Helios Erebus

Top Tracks: Pig Power, Helios Erebus, Sea Of Trees

Number 7

Artist: Pentimento

Album: I, No Longer

Top Tracks: Sink or Swim, Clever Reason, Stuck Forever

Number 6

Artist: Waking Aida

Album: Full Heal

Top Tracks: Day-Glo Forest, Exploding Palm, Blue Shelled

Number 5

Artist: Young Lions

Album: Blue Isla

Top Tracks: When Will We Be Free?, I Know, Tearing Us Apart

Number 4

Artist: coldrain

Album: VENA

Top Tracks: Heart of the Young, Whole, Wrong

Number 3

Artist: Bring Me The Horizon

Album: That’s The Spirit

Top Tracks: Happy Song, Blasphemy, Doomed

Number 2

Artist: Meg Myers

Album: Sorry

Top Tracks: Desire, Lemon Eyes, Sorry

Number 1

Artist: twenty one pilots

Album: Blurryface

Top Tracks: Tear In My Heart, Stressed Out, Not Today

Songwriting 101: Goodbye

I thought it would be fun to start a new series called Songwriting 101. This series will consist of looking at and breaking a song down to see some of the fundamental ideas that make it whole. Today I’ll be doing a new acoustic song I recently wrote titled “Goodbye.”

 

For this song I used one of the most common song forms known as ABABCB. Each letter represents a different part in the song. “A” represents verse, “B” represents Chorus and “C” represents bridge. This standard song form is great because it’s simple yet effective. The verse and chorus create a strong foundation and the bridge adds just enough variation to keep the song interesting. It’s an extremely popular style used in both pop and rock music.

During the verse I use a swinging transition between 2 chords: G major and C major. To lighten the mood of the song, I palm mute the guitar and add a complete stop in the middle of each verse. This enables the vocals to stand out and places the primary focus on the melody and lyrics. If you need help writing melodies, check out my 3 Tips For Writing Strong Melodies.

For the chorus, I stop the palm mute and go into a more upbeat rhythm. I also add in two more chords in addition to the ones from the verse for a total of 4 (G Major, C Major, E Minor and D Major). Finally I give the chorus a bit of color by using a complex chord progression. The progression goes like this ( G – E – C – D – G – D – C). The chorus melody was created by taking part of the verse melody and adding its own variation. Just as an example, I hold out notes on the words “hate” and “goodbye” to differentiate them a bit.

Finally, for the bridge I wanted to keep a similar feel to the chorus so I stuck with an upbeat rhythm and the same chords. The major difference here is the change in rhythm and variation on the progression. In addition, I included some color tones in order to make the bridge stand out a bit more. The progression used here is ( G – D – C – G – E – C – G – D – C – E – D – C – D). The color tones are added in the last 4 chords of the progression.

Finally- the lyrics:

Every day, I know what you’re thinking
“I’m a saint, living life still believing
In a fate,” well I think I found a reason to try and change.
Rest assured, something I’ll never be cause
Lines blur, you love to hate the demon
Little words, can best describe the feeling “I’m free at last.”

But I’ll remember every single time
And I will never hate that life
But now it’s over, I’m looking for my voice
Just to say goodbye

It’s kind of hard, speaking the same old language
From the start, “10 candles light the way when
We fall apart,” Just wash the pride away and find a heart
You are, the enemy of reason
Cross scarred, can’t seem to breathe when thinking
In the dark, hands on the tree of treason to trust in fate

But I’ll remember every single time
And I will never hate that life
But now it’s over, I’m looking for my voice
Just to say goodbye

Effective songwriting allows the interpretation to be left up to the listener. Personally, I believe it’s important to find a balance between being vague and descriptive. Striking the right balance between the two will allow the general idea to be understood, but leave the listener curious and interested in digging deeper to understand the details of the song.

This is the first of many Songwriting 101 articles I plan on doing. For now I’m simply going to cover my own songs, but it’s very possible I may go over a few popular songs in the future. Remember: Dissecting songs is one of the best ways to improve your skills as a songwriter.

3 Classic Novels Everyone Should Read

“A classic is a book that has never finished saying what it has to say.”

Whenever I go to my local library, I always seem to hover around the nonfiction section- books on religion, philosophy, morality, politics and happiness. These topics are at the peak of my interests and are incredibly valuable to me in expanding my knowledge. Occasionally, however, my mind will lust for adventure and seek something more than stone cold facts and information presented through nonfiction. What I need is a classic novel.

What is a classic novel? A classic novel is a book that has stood the test of time. It is a book that is masterful at creating controversy and discussion. It is a book that challenges the readers point of view in a profound way. A classic novel is a book that can make the reader feel emotional distraught, yet great empathy for its characters. It is a book that has never finished saying what it has to say.

I’m certainly not the most avid fiction reader, but I have read my fair share of classic novels growing up. This includes the incredibly popular The Catcher In The Rye, To Kill A Mockingbird and A Tale of Two Cities. In the last few years of my life I’ve added several to that list and I’m positive that I’ll enjoy the roller coaster of many more of them over the course of my lifetime.

Here are 3 classic novels I recommend everyone should read:

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Brave New World   TheCountof MonteCristo