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Writing

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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Understanding song form

Adapted from The Complete Singer-Songwriter Beneath all the nuances of melodies and lyrics, most songs are built from the same basic parts—some kind of sequence of verse, chorus, bridge, and so on. For writing a song, learning to play someone else’s song, or communicating with other musicians, being able to identify these parts and patterns...

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Chris Thile on being a “serious, curious” musician

I think serious, curious musicians owe it to themselves and to the music-loving public to avail themselves of all the tools. You run into a lot of people who are consciously leaving vast swaths of their potential musicianship undeveloped in the name of staying pure. Those kinds of decisions don’t achieve the desired result, because...

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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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