20 Ideas to Inject Into Your Song Tonight
I recently heard a very successful entrepreneur speak about this concept so I thought it could apply to music as well.
His purpose was a way to solve problems and what better problems to solve than the problems we encounter when writing a song.
Usual questions are: “What am I gonna do next?” or What else can I do with what I’ve got? How do I make my song kick some ass? Where do I go from here?
- Modulate. This concept doesn’t have to be hard at all. It can as simple as using a pivot chord (a chord that is common to 2 keys) For example if you are playing in E Minor you can go from Em – Am – B7 – Cadd9 (pivot chord into C Major) F – G – G7 – C.
- Write out the chords in the key and use the ones you haven’t used. I’ve seen many songs, hit songs as well, that have not utilized all of the chords in the key. I’m not saying you have to do this, I’m just suggesting as an idea to spice up your song if for some reason you are not happy with it.
- Use a V7 chord. You might not have one in there. You can also use these V7 chords from another key which would now be considered Secondary Dominants. Let’s say you have Am – F – D – E7, you can do Am – E7 – F – C7 – D – A7 – E7 – Am. See what else you can come up with using this method as a starting point.
- Parallel keys. For example Em to E. You can simply start in Em and modulate into the parallel major key or start in E Major and use the parallel minor key. C to Cm or Cm to C. D to Dm or Dm to D. G to Gm or Gm to G etc…
- Put an acoustic guitar in there or a Spanish guitar. Or if you have an acoustic song, you can add a distorted part. You can add synthesizers (synths), violins, or whatever you like really. A distorted part to a song can really change things around.
- Consider the dynamics. Certain sections can go up or down in volume and density. You can have a part with just the bassline or just the bassline and drums or you can have just the guitar come in and then the bass and then the full band come in.
- Use the circle of 5ths. You can go up or down in 4ths or 5ths. For example, if you come to a place in your song where you don’t know what to do, try the next chord in the circle of fifths. If you have C F G G7 but are bored with it simply keep going to the fifth of G which is D (in this case Dm since you are in the key of C) then Am (the fifth of Dm), Em ( the fifth of Am) and B Diminished (the fifth of E in the key of C). You now have C F G G7 Dm Am Em Bdim C. (A much stronger progression with room for lots more ideas)
- Borrow a chord from another key for one of your sections. This could really make a difference in the sound of your song. For example instead of C, F and G, you can use C, Fm and G or C, Fm, F and G. Already this progression sounds much cooler than C, F and G if you ask me. Try it out in any other key.
- Modal progressions. You would be using the same chords but you’d have a different tonal center. Try Dorian or Phrygian or even Lydian.
- Insert an arpeggiated chords section or with sweeped arpeggios only. You can do this with a clean tone with no drums to bring in more drama when you come back into the chorus or any part of your song.
- Add chords in a higher octave or harmonize the chords you already have with the same ones in a higher octave.
- Poly chords. You can add diatonic chords at the same time. For example, you can play C and Em at the same time or Dm and F. This usually sounds better with one chord in a higher octave than the other one.
- Omit the solo section or add a second or third solo to your song. You can start or finish with one as well.
- Use an open string lick.
- A strict legato section.
- Change Meters. You can add a measure to make your riff fit into a 5/4 measure or you can go from 4/4 to 6/8. Or to 7/8, 11/8, 13/8/ 15/16 etc…There are many things you can do.
- Change Tempo. There are many songs that change tempo without us even knowing it was happening. It gives the song a totally different feel and sense of unexpectedness.
- Write a section where you only use the Pentatonic scale.
- Add some chromatic passing tones into your riff.
- Get your band mate to rewrite your section or vice versa. This can give you a whole other dimension to your idea and can really churn out something cool.
Try some of these ideas out. You can combine some as well. Creativity is solely up to you. If you put your mind to it and study your songs DEEPLY, you will find a way to make it better. With all these tools at your disposal, you should have a kick ass song in no time.
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