When I was studying music, one thing I remember my professors kept driving home was that you don't just stop when you see a "rest" in music notation. You play silence. Silence acts as a frame around the sounds you're producing and helps make those sounds feel more profound. Think about what a picture frame does for a photograph.
Song structure (or lack thereof) can definitely prove to be a source of considerable frustration, especially for new writers. You might have a great collection of hooks or parts, but how you string them together can really make or break a tune. While there are certainly no “rules” as to how a writer should structure their tunes, there are some tried-and-true classic structures (especially in the pop tradition) and variations on the like that just plain work, building excitement and keeping the listener’s attention. Why not look at these workhorse structures from songs past and incorporate them into our own work -- or at least use them as a springboard for our own variations on the theme?
As songwriters, we think of tempo as the most basic of basics. Tempo, or the speed at which we perform a song, is sort of the quiet engine, the driving force behind all our tunes; yet, because we consider it so "Songwriting 101," tempo can sometimes become songcraft’s sadly neglected middle child.
The full-chord strum is only one way to skin the rhythm cat. A subtler but no less effective approach is playing broken chords, which involves successively picking the individual notes of a chord in a following pattern. An arpeggiated, or “broken,” chord simultaneously outlines the harmony, meter and rhythm.
One simple technique that is often used to spice up many chords – and in the process make a lot of garden-variety chord progressions sound more interesting – is the manner-on. To play a hammer-on, pick a string and then, while the note is still ringing, sound a higher note on that same string by firmly tapping, or “hammering,” it onto the fretboard with one of your fretting fingers without picking it again.
In this article I’d like to acquaint you with some great slide licks I like to play in open A tuning. These riffs and runs are super versatile – you can use them to hop up your own blues pieces, employ them as solos in a classic blues song or even just entertain yourself with them on a back porch in the middle of a scorching heat wave.
KT Tunstall released an awesome song in 2005 called “Black Horse and the Cherry Tree.” It was inspired by a Bo Diddley beat. Here is the very cool video that I came across.This performance pretty much set her on the path to stardom.
Even if you’re not a fan of "American Idol," I hope you’ve heard the music of season nine’s winner, Lee DeWyze. An avid fan of the show, I’ve watched pretty much every episode since day one, and DeWyze always impressed not only with his fabulous voice, but his obvious musicianship. He could often be seen on the Idol stage with a guitar in hand. So, of course, I was thrilled when I had the opportunity to meet with DeWyze in the Acoustic Nation studio. He spent some time teaching me the powerful single “Fight” from his new release Frames.