7 Songwriting Rules and When to Break Them – Flypaper

Like any creative process, songwriting has a set of guidelines that will help you ensure that your songs are on par with what listeners expect from music these days.

The article from Flypaper, titled “7 Songwriting Rules and When to Break Them,” serves as a beacon for both novice and seasoned songwriters, illuminating the path towards creative liberation. Here’s a detailed summary that encapsulates the essence of the article, tailored to inspire and inform your blog audience.

1. Follow a Familiar Structure

The conventional “Verse-Chorus-Verse-Chorus-Bridge-Chorus” format is a staple in songwriting, offering a reliable framework for storytelling. Yet, the article encourages breaking away from this predictability to invent unique song structures. Imogen Heap’s “The Listening Chair” exemplifies this, with its structure-less narrative that captivates through its unpredictability.

2. Keep Consistent Verses

While maintaining consistency in verses can aid in coherence, introducing variations in rhythm, melody, or rhyming schemes in subsequent verses can enrich the song’s texture. “Make It Out Alive” by Nao and SiR demonstrates how diverging from the first verse’s pattern can surprise and engage listeners.

3. Keep a Consistent Chorus

The chorus, typically the song’s most memorable part, often repeats the same lyrics to emphasize the song’s core message. However, altering lyrics across different choruses can amplify the song’s impact, as seen in George Michael’s “Praying for Time,” where each chorus varies lyrically, enhancing the song’s emotional depth.

4. Make the Chorus Big

While a powerful, dynamic chorus is common, opting for a softer, more minimalistic approach can also be effective. Lennon Stella’s “Breakaway” uses a subdued chorus to create intimacy and significance, proving that contrast can be as compelling as intensity.

5. Maintain the Same Tempo

Consistency in tempo and time signature is generally pleasing to the ear, yet strategic changes can reflect shifts in the song’s narrative or emotional landscape. Jack Johnson’s “Bubble Toes” uses a tempo change to transition from a cautious introduction to a playful narrative, showcasing how tempo variations can enhance storytelling.

6. Use a Consistent Key and Chord Progression

Sticking to a consistent key and chord progression is safe, but experimenting with changes can lead to a more dynamic and emotionally resonant piece. “Lovely Broken” by Gungor illustrates this through its shift from a major to a minor key, mirroring the song’s thematic exploration of the human experience’s dual nature.

7. Write Lyrics That Rhyme

Rhyming enhances a song’s rhythmic quality, but breaking free from the constraints of perfect rhymes can allow for more authentic expression. Kevin Garrett’s work on “Pray You Catch Me” for Beyoncé showcases how non-traditional rhyming schemes can still produce a compelling and rhythmically engaging song.

This exploration into the art of songwriting not only sheds light on the foundational rules that guide the craft but also celebrates the innovative spirit that propels it forward. By understanding when and how to bend or break these rules, songwriters can unlock new dimensions of creativity, crafting songs that resonate deeply with listeners and stand out in the vast sea of music.

Source: 7 Songwriting Rules and When to Break Them – Flypaper

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