Songwriting Tip: What Do You Listen To?


One of the hardest things for songwriters to do is to break out of the style of music they grew up on.

Obviously, I have a tough time breaking away from the influence of the Beatles and other bands from the 60’s and 70’s.? But one thing that helps me is listening to lots of different music.

I would encourage songwriters to listen to a wide range of stuff.

I listen to things like Bela Fleck and the Flecktones (jazz fused with bluegrass), Irish music (like Riverdance), soundtracks (like those by John Williams [get his Greatest Hits – you can’t beat the soundtracks from Star Wars, Jurassic Park, Raiders of the Lost Ark and others]), Broadway stuff (like Le Miserables).? Sometimes I listen to classical music and lately I’ve been listening to Ricky Skaggs new album, “Mosaic.”

I’m also grateful that my kids keep me posted on current music to listen to as well. I try to listen to bands like Coldplay, Death Cab for Cutie, Snow Patrol, etc. and analyze their songs – what makes their melodies so good?? What kind of rhythms do they use?? What kinds of chord progressions do they use?

In this glorious day and age of technology, you can listen to all kinds of stuff for free on sites like Pandora and Grooveshark.

Just as writers must read a lot, songwriters must listen to lots of music.? The more you listen to, the more of a “reservoir” you’ll have to draw upon.

photo by jordanfischer


  • Matt Blick says:

    break away from the influence of the Beatles? May it never be! (just kidding)

    We are blessed to be living in an age where music from anywhere in the world is only a click away. Take advantage of it!

    A few years ago I got some gift vouchers for a record store (remember those?). I was shocked to realise that all my potential purchases were albums I'd owned as a kid.

    Mojo magazine was running a top 50 albums of the year feature so I decided to borrow as many as a could from the library. I remember literally forcing myself to take out a nick cave CD and quite enjoying it and also found a new favourite artist Bjork. Even easier now with pandora etc.

    Or you could even do what this woman is doing

  • bfpower says:

    Recovering classical pianist, now worship leader. I'm listening to a lot of piano rock and such (currently Jack's Mannequin is playing) to get some perspective on worship leading using piano in innovative ways.

    I don't know if I want to take that to its logical conclusion, though. In my locale (rural Montana) country is the predominant genre. i don't know if I can take my artistic integrity there… =) OK, maybe once in a while.

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