Improve Your Lyrics – Tip #51

It is important to set goals before attempting to start a project. With lyric writing, here is a goal you can set for yourself that could help dramatically improve your writing ability:

For people who typically write music in the verse-chorus form, they fall into the trap of allowing themselves too many verses. And it comes to no surprise either; a lot of grate music has the form of VVCVCBC – with two or three verses leading up to the fist chorus.

As mentioned previously, a verse is used to help narrate the story you are telling. Give details, explain the situation, etc. But allowing yourself too many verses can cause you to not get to the point – instead, blabbering on with unnecessary words cluttering up your song.

So, set yourself the goal of only allowing yourself one (and only one) verse before the first chorus. 4 to 8 small lines max.

Forcing yourself to be constrained to one verse will make you prioritize the important information first. Then, if you were to add another verse, you will be secured of already have hit the punch of the song.

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Tip #242 – Changing a Voicing Midway

Most people when writing or performing music tend to stick to one chord voicing for a harmony. While this is perfectly okay to do, this can lead into having trouble to voice leading because there is a limit to possibilities.

Often, composers don’t practice re-voicing a harmony. For example: if you have an A major seventh chord that lasts a measure long, try a different voicing at the halfway point.

Here is another example of it in action:

Try it out and see if it makes transitions sound smoother and give the piece more interest/variety!

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Tip #241 – Understanding the Jalarnavam Scale

The Carnatic music of South India has 72 scales (melakartas) comprised of seven different notes in either an ascending (arohana) or descending (avarohana) fashion. These scales are used in a kind of India music called rāga and are extremely beautiful. In addition these scales are grouped into different chakras, based on certain similarities.

Today’s melakarta is the Jalarnavam scale, the second scale from the seventh chakra.

Below is a representation of the scale as if it was put into Western notation:

Both the first (SA) and fifth (PA) scale degrees are in a placement normal to most scales found in Western music.  However, the lowered second (RI) and third (GA) scale degrees as well as the raised fourth (MA) degree creates chromatic lines.

Try playing around with the scale, possible harmonies, and progressions!

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Improve Your Lyrics – Tip #50

Another form that you can use for your lyric writing is the through-composed form. The structure is represented as the ABCD form where each section is a new melody (or a development of the original). Thus, constantly being new and not repeating any material.


While melodic change is the most important distinction between each section in a through-composed song, other aspects such as number of lines or rhyming scheme can also change.


A through-composed structure works best when the lyrics you have written are a linear narrative, that itself will develop just as the music does.


So how can a songwriter and lyricist make a through-composed piece sound like one song instead a mishmash of many? Just like the lyrics should all be on the same topic, each section (ABCD…) should have a harmonic, melodic, and/or rhythmic variation of a motif to tie everything together.

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Teach Yourself Music Theory – 36.) Church Modes

As we begin entering the realm of counterpoint, we need to touch upon some music history. Renaissance counterpoint will be the first destination.

Early chant, called plainsong, were composed using 8 different modes. Modes, as we have previously talked about, are scales the encompass the same pitches as a key area, but are not technically our known major or natural minor. By the 16th Century into the Renaissance era, it expanded with a few more.

These Ecclesiastical Modes, or Church Modes, define which notes are more important than others in contrapuntal musical pieces. Each modes are built off of different species of whole and half-note combinations.

There are authentic church modes, which are the “main” modes than cover a range of an octave (but can go a step out from each end of the mode). And there are a plagal church modes which are derived from the “main” modes by starting on the fifth degree above the tonic.

Church modes have their own special characteristic notes of finals (the literal “final” note of a melodic line), and dominant (the recitation tone which is held during chant).

In the picture above, the half-notes denote finals within a mode while the triangles denote dominants.

When composing, is a person uses way more than the range of the mode – it is called excessive. If the melody of the contrapuntal piece covers both the range of the authentic and plagal church modes – it is called mixed. And for those melodies that never cover the range of an octave – it is called incomplete.

Before wrapping up this post, it should be mentioned that certain scale degrees can be flattened to avoid the tritone interval, and other scale degrees can be raised for cadential purposes.

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Tip #238 – Sliding Into Home Base

Just like a baseball player sliding into home base is unnecessary in compared to just running home – so can sliding into certain “home” notes of a chord. Yes, this extra accented passing tone is note needed, but it can give some cool flavor as well as style to your music.

As you are playing a chord progression, try using these accented passing tones in relationship to the chord:

  • Seventh goes to the root
  • Second goes to the third
  • Sixth goes to the fifth

…and with sliding motion if your instrument allows you to!

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Tip #237 – Understanding the Salagam Scale

The Carnatic music of South India has 72 scales (melakartas) comprised of seven different notes in either an ascending (arohana) or descending (avarohana) fashion. These scales are used in a kind of India music called rāga and are extremely beautiful. In addition these scales are grouped into different chakras, based on certain similarities.

Today’s melakarta is the Salagam scale, the first scale from the seventh chakra.

Below is a representation of the scale as if it was put into Western notation:

Both the first (SA) and fifth (PA) scale degrees are in a placement normal to most scales found in Western music.  However, the lowered second (RI) and third (GA) scale degrees create a chromatic line.  So do the raised fourth (MA) and lowered seventh (NI) scale degrees create a chromatic line.

Try playing around with the scale, possible harmonies, and progressions!

Thank you so much for taking the time to read! Feel free to comment, share, and subscribe for more daily tips below! Till next time.