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Songwriting

Writing tools: the curio book

If you want to write—whether prose or poetry or songs, fiction or nonfiction—one great practice you can adopt to fuel your work is keeping what I call a curio book. This could be a small paper notebook or a notepad app on your phone—anything that you have with you wherever you go. Use this book to...

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Syracuse winter workshops

Central New York musicians: take advantage of your indoor time this winter and sharpen your guitar playing or songwriting in these workshops led by Jeffrey Pepper Rodgers, founding editor of Acoustic Guitar magazine, grand prize winner of the John Lennon Songwriting Contest, and author of Beyond Strumming and The Complete Singer-Songwriter (more about JPR). See...

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David Rawlings on writing songs from tradition

[Poor David's Almanack] came out of 20 years of thinking about folk music and the roots of things, and seeing that so much beauty comes out of the fluidity of writing from things that move you. Sometimes I listen to songs that I love and I think, 'Wow, it’s like we’re all standing on the...

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Songwriting lesson: how to write a bridge

Think of the timeless ballad “Something,” from the Beatles’ Abbey Road, in which George Harrison muses on his lover’s allure over a wistful chord progression in the key of C. He sings a verse and loops back for another by way of the song’s signature guitar line, but the second time he lands not on a...

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Five starting points for songwriting

Adapted from The Complete Singer-Songwriter It’s such a subconscious thing. It’s like this little song part of you fills up over time. It’s like a well, and then you just put your dipper in and dip it out. When you’re a songwriter, at least a songwriter like me, you have to work hard on your...

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Blues/rock chord changes lesson Back in the U.S.S.R.

Blues/rock chord changes

Adapted from The Complete Singer-Songwriter Go ahead: grab an open-position E chord on your guitar and give it a few good, hard strums. Do the same on a D chord and then an A. Get a steady rhythm going and keep circling around, E–D–A. Stand and sling your guitar down at your hips (or, better, knees);...

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