I listen to music everywhere but one of my favorite places to relax and listen to some tunes is on the beach.

Here are three key things to having a great beach experience

    Get a portable speaker. The beach is loud so you need a speaker that can cut through the noise
    Have a cooler full of cold adult beverages. While it’s always a good experience to be oceanside, a few adult beverages makes it that much better
    Play your favorite summer jams. I tend to listen to Marley, Jack Johnson, Buffett, etc. Click here for my Spotify playlist

Now you can sit back and groove……. just don’t get a sunburn!

It’s very satisfying to be an independent artist. Artists can pursue their own path without any unwanted influences and publish it on their own terms. The independent artist is on a fairly level playing field with major recording artists. The rise of Post Malone is a great example of how an artist can produce their music and post it on SoundCloud for little to no money. After posting “White Iverson” on SoundCloud in 2015, he quickly got over 1 million plays. Post Malone made the beat in his bedroom. Now he is signed with Republic Records and has broken Spotify streaming records.

The record label business is also changing dramatically. The labels are signing new acts at a shocking rate. Rolling Stone estimated that the majors were signing 2 acts every day (Read more here). It could be argued that the labels couldn’t possibly support the growth of that many new artists but the reality is the artists need to have something unique to offer.

This is good news for independent artists. Why? Not necessarily because the majors are signing 20% more artists than they did in 2014. Rather, it’s the availability of more diverse musical acts who develop on their own first! This is the level playing field from which great music can be heard and artists (independent and signed alike) have to develop their own voice and style.

The major difference today, versus just 10 years ago, is independent artists can get digitally “exposed” to very large audiences. The other major difference is the plethora of great music available to the listener!

If you like exploring new music, please check out Soul Pigeon.

Think of your favorite song and I promise you it has some dissonance.  Dissonance is a somewhat “off-putting” feeling or sound that you experience in a song.   The only way dissonance works is that it resolves to something non-dissonant.  Music is just like life, it just simply can’t be all smooth and perfect.

There is nothing better than tension in a song.  Properly paired with words, a dissonant tension can really grab you and make you feel connected with the song. 

Here are some examples of dissonance in a few songs.

  • Neil Youngs “Old Man”. The tune starts off this the dissonance before resolving to the D (I chord).
  • The Doors “Not to Touch the Earth”. Each verse is dissonant. Listen to the first 45 seconds of the song before the dissonance resolves into the refrain
  • Soul Pigeons “From the Mountain”. The main riff of our song has a flat 7th note as it descends and resolves back to the riff

CLICK HERE to hear a playlist of these songs

The most common places to use dissonances is in a bridge or musical transition into a lead. For example, a V7 chord is a chord that naturally wants to resolve to the I chord. By substituting a diminished chord for the V7 you instantly create a very displeasing tension that begs resolution.   

I would wager that every one of your favorite songs are using V7 chords that resolve to the 1 chord! 

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There are some truly brilliant songwriters out there who are coming up with amazing songs using the most basic chords out there.

Musically, I like to hear something fresh and not the same three chords (I, IV, V).   There are a few songwriters that really deliver.  Paul Simon would be one songwriter that comes to mind.  Paul seems to write amazing songs that have a real breath of musical expression well past the basic three chords! Songs like Bridge Over Troubled Water and Still Crazy After All These Years.

Then there are plenty of examples of songs with only three chords that take a fresh approach to those basic chords. Using Paul Simon again as an example listen to the song Cecilia. That song only has the three basic chords in G (G, C, and D) but it sounds innovative.

So do the chords make the song? Absolutely not!! Technically a musical works copyright to a song only covers the words and the melody line. The chord structure is not copyrighted. Why is that? Because it’s simply not necessary and, more importantly, it’s not possible. In any given musical key there are only 7 chords. If chord progressions were able to be copyrighted we would only have 1 or 2 songs from the 50’s and 60’s rock and roll era!!! Nearly every rock and roll song uses a I, IV, V or I, vi, IV, V progression.

Lastly consider jazz as a musical form. Many jazz artists take a classic melody and change the chord structure behind the music. One perfect example is John Coltrane’s My Favorite Things. This amazing version is considered a legal cover of the original song written by Rogers and Hammerstein.

So there you have it, chords mean absolutely nothing to the basic composition except musical accompaniment. Chords do, however, make it far more interesting! Take a listen to Shoe Commercial by Soul Pigeon for an example of a basic three chord progression but with added voicings to the chords.

There is nothing better than stringing some words together that just somehow fit perfectly and having an entire song burst forth.   Maybe is something you hear in a conversation or an idea that springs from a book; wherever the inspiration sometimes the words just start flowing.

When that happens for me I turn to a note taking application called Evernote.   Evernote allows me to quickly capture words on my phone.  I can even dictate them so I can get things written down quickly. The other thing I love about Evernote is I can search my past ideas quickly.

When inspiration hits I follow these two primary principles

  • Speed
    • I attempt to get as many words flowing as fast as possible.   I will use “non words” to keep things moving.  I don’t edit or even think about what is coming out.  I push myself to write as quickly as I possibly can
  • No format or style
    • I purposely stay away from any conventions of form or rhyming structure.   The goal is just to let the words flow so I forgive myself any “mistakes” of not rhyming or using to many syllables in a stanza.   Instead I just relax and let my mind babble.

When I first got the inspiration for the song “Time Dies“, I was just enamored with the concept of time dying versus time flying.  Everyone says “Time Flies” but in reality time does actually die.  It never comes back.   So I just starting writing words as fast as I could about it.   Nearly everything I wrote down that first time made it to the song. The entire song came together in about 10 minutes.

Of course no song comes to life without awesome musicians adding their nuances and interpretations to the song. BillyRock, The Scorpion, and Benjo Low are simply the best. Great musicians make the song!!!

Listen to Time Dies on Spotify by clicking here