I recently discovered a blog devoted to the Beatles’ songwriting techniques written by Matt Blick. It looks like there’s a lot of great stuff on there.
If you’re looking for simple ideas to spice up your songwriting, Beatles-style, take a look at his Tickets to Write section, where he (concisely) describes 47 interesting moves found in the Beatles’ corpus.
Here are a few simple ones, which anyone following my Practical Chord Progression series might find immediately useful:
- Use the minor iv instead of the major IV. Try it out; it has a familiar sound that you’ll never hear the same way again.
- Use the minor v instead of the major V. Again, very simple, but if used well this can generate just the right amount of surprise.
- Try the Picardy third. That is, when writing in a minor key, move to the major counterpart of your root chord at the end of a section or the entire song. So, if you’re in C minor, end the section on the C major chord. This is another instantly recognizable move, but one that can still be effective if used cleverly.