Songwriting 101: Lovedrug

Today I’ll be going over a song I wrote a couple years ago titled Lovedrug. This particular piece is a great example of how simplicity in songwriting can be effective. It uses the popular I, IV, V, vi chords which I previously discussed here. If you haven’t already, I recommend reading that article first in order to get a better understanding of chord relationships and why these chords work so well together. Let’s jump right in!

Lovedrug is in D# Major and is divided into two main sections using the following chords:

Verse: D# Major (I) – A# Major (V) – C Minor (vi) – G# Major (IV)

Chorus: D# Major (I) – C Minor (vi)

These chords can be very tricky to play on guitar, but there’s something we can do to make it more straightforward. We can place a capo on the 8th fret which allows us to play these chords in the open position. This makes the song easier to play because it allows us to use basic chord shapes. In practice, you could then use the following shapes:

Verse: G Major – D Major – E Minor – C Major

Chorus: G Major – E Minor

For those that are unfamiliar, these shapes look like this:





Something to note is that we can easily transcribe songs to a different key while still using these same chord shapes by simply moving the capo up or down the neck. The reason I chose to use the key of D# Major (8th fret capo) for this particular song was because it was the best fit for my vocals. It’s often a good practice to experiment with your songs in different keys. While inexperienced singers may be limited with the keys they can use, it can provide a great deal of flexibility and even new ideas for how singers can perform the melody.  For Lovedrug I also experimented with using G Major and A# Major throughout the songwriting process.

Next let’s look at the song structure. I would categorize this song as ABABCBBC. Looking at each letter: A represents the verse, B represents the chorus, and C represents the bridge. My favorite part of Lovedrug was the chorus because the melody was particularly catchy, and therefore I wanted to emphasize this part of the song. To do this, I simply made it the most prominent part by repeating it four times in total. The only difference between the bridge and the verse is that the bridge uses a guitar riff instead of the verse melody.

Finally let’s take a look at the lyrics and melody:

I love to watch you squirm
Every time you lie
Feel the way it hurts

You get me high then you bring me down
Don’t know why I ever stick around
Hate to say, hate to say it now
Just a drug, just a drug, just a drug to me

Why did the fire die?
I want to watch it burn
Every single time

You get me high then you bring me down
Don’t know why I ever stick around
Hate to say, hate to say it now
Just a drug, just a drug, just a drug to me

The song is about an addiction to an unhealthy relationship. It highlights how we irrationally glorify the honeymoon phase with a partner and use it to justify lies and bad behavior. The lyrics are simple and easy to understand, but often times that’s exactly what a song needs to demonstrate its message clearly. I think I can accomplished that with this song.

For the melody I started with the simple idea of walking up a scale for the word “high” and walking down the same scale for the word “down.” After trying several variations I finally came up with the one I liked most. From there, I made several iterations of it and eventually picked one that ended up being the verse melody. Melody writing is often just coming up with 20 different ways to sing a single word- and then ultimately picking your favorite and expanding it.

Well that about wraps up Lovedrug. If you take anything away from this lesson I hope it’s that simplicity can do wonders with the right touch. It’s something you should always consider during the songwriting process because you may regretfully add too much. Thanks for reading.

An Adventure: Seattle to Maui

Aloha from Maui, Hawaii! This last week I’ve been lounging on beaches, drinking Pina Coladas and catching up on some much needed novel reading. While I was here I also got to do a bit of sight seeing: driving the Road to Hana, a helicopter ride over Molokai, and hiking through the dense forests of Maui. And of course- doing some writing and rejuvenating my creative juices.

I brought two books along with me for the trip: Slaughterhouse-Five by Kurt Vonnegut and The Atlantis Gene by A.G. Riddle. Both novels were recommended by a long time friend and fellow science fiction nerd. Unfortunately I haven’t read much Sci-Fi lately (last one was Partials by Dan Wells) so both books were a good fix to a long time craving.

Slaughterhouse-Five is a classic novel that follows the life of Billy Pilgrim- a war veteran, optometrist, and time traveler- who gets abducted by aliens. Throughout the novel, he tackles the philosophical problems of war, death and free will. I loved this book not only for the topics it covers, but for the absurd characters and mix of tragedy and humor. I give it a 4/5. Here are some of my favorite quotes:

“Why you? Why us for that matter? Why anything? Because this moment simply is.”

“That’s one thing Earthlings might learn to do, if they tried hard enough: Ignore the awful times and concentrate on the good ones.”

And of course, the simple… “So it goes.”

The second novel I read, The Atlantis Gene, dives into the mystery of human origins and evolution. This novel really digs into accurate details for both genetics and biology which really made the otherwise crazy conspiracies come to life in a very realistic way. The pacing was a bit wild at times, but I loved the plot and action making it a thrilling page turner. I give it a 4/5 as well. Apparently this book is the first of a trilogy and is currently being made into a major Motion picture. I’ll definitely be seeing it in theaters.

Outside of reading I also did a lot of writing for the philosophy portion of my blog on the topics of boredom and overpopulation. Once I get these thoughts a little more organized and coherent I’ll upload them to my blog- most likely within the next week or two. Of course that’s assuming I can read my own handwriting (I tend to write terribly sloppy when free writing ha).

Finally I’ll leave you with some pictures. My Android camera and amateur photography doesn’t do these sights any justice, but alas I did what I could. So it goes…

IMG_20160428_193105 IMG_20160429_192658 IMG_20160430_175528 IMG_20160501_175514 IMG_20160504_190810 IMG_20160504_190855 IMG_20160504_190948 IMG_20160504_191033