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In August 2018, my partner Ken and I left the (expensive) San Francisco Bay Area to live in an RV and tour the country. We book all the shows ourselves and we’ve played to crowds of two and crowds of 200. We’ve gone three weeks straight playing shows every night, and we’ve had RV breakdowns.

Hopefully Tredici Bacci’s listeners understand the inherent joke underlying a song about the ’70s written by someone who was born in 1991. Of course, I can’t seriously mourn an era that I mostly learned about from watching erotic films and talking to my parents’ friends. That said, most things that I love (in music, art, fashion and the aforementioned erotica) were made in the ’70s, and I wonder if I would have thrived had I been born back then. “In The 1970s” is more of a loving ode to what I admire about that decade, and as a compositional experiment, an attempt to write something that used my favorite “’70s-sounding” signifiers.

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Jeremy is a Montreal-based musician, sound artist and improviser who loves giving advice to emerging artists on how to make their tours more effective. He writes, records and performs electroacoustic “concrète” music for tape, oscillators and amplified objects and surfaces, as well as solo guitar. He has performed and released material throughout Europe and the UK, Asia, the US and Canada, mostly with his trio Sontag Shogun.

The main thing I have students do in music tech class is make original music and lots of it. So the question immediately becomes, how do I even begin to objectively assess that stuff?

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And once the mix starts to come together, make sure to play your track back on as many different speakers and listening devices as possible (the car, your laptop, your phone’s ear buds, etc.) and take notes. Listen, and trust your own ears.

Modes and Key Signatures have a variety of different characteristics and are great for outside-the-box songwriting. Here’s a cheat sheet to remember them!

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All of our mentored online courses come with six weeks of 1-on-1 professional coaching and feedback on your work. It’s like having a personal trainer, but for music! Share your goals with us and we’ll find a course for you, or create a custom mentorship session with a pro musician, engineer, educator, or music industry veteran, to help you achieve them. 

That’s not to say that your writing will automatically sound better overnight as a result of opening a book by one of the greats, but so much of songwriting is about “borrowing.” Whether that’s taking a direct phrase and setting it to a new context, or borrowing some syntax and ideas to open up new pathways for approaching a song, having an influential reference provides a great place to start.

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By paying close attention to your playing and constantly giving yourself feedback, you can focus in on the moments that give you the most trouble and work at those specifically. One additional way to give yourself feedback might be to record yourself. If I record myself playing my Errol Garner tune, I can even compare it to the original, and make notes about the spots where I’m not quite getting it right!

“I have taken three courses with Soundfly and have been very impressed by the quality of the course and more importantly, the quality of the feedback. The deep feedback and analysis I get from my mentors has been wonderful. I do not ever recall getting this level of feedback nor support in previous online courses (or live courses for that matter.)”

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To really understand why, let’s look at one song where the verse and chorus really do act differently and serve different functions, and look at how they interact with each other; let’s take a look at “I Wanna Dance With Somebody” by late great Whitney Houston.

As they used to say on MTV, “Too much is never enough” — especially when it comes to the ways you can re-record and sell your music. Top-selling artists release multiple versions of both hits and deep cuts to present different versions of their songs and put a new spin on lesser-known tracks. You can remix a song and take the lyrics away, and release an instrumental version you could license to film or TV programs. Or how about stripping down your sound and releasing an acoustic, unplugged version?

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This is a very classic song structure that can be found in everything from James Taylor to Ariana Grande. Here are some recent songs that use this structure (or something similar):

Here’s a quick video full of tips about how to reach out to venues you’ve never played at, courtesy of Soundfly’s free online course on DIY booking, management, and promotion, Touring on a Shoestring.

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For many of us, creating works of art takes a certain level of inspiration and solitude — time to reflect and a surrounding environment that suits our mental well-being. Whether we’re composing, songwriting, or producing music and sound, the act of creation is often at its best when it’s organic.

The previous section dealt with music that we, as youngsters, opted to listen to. But you can achieve similar results with melodic and intervalic relationships culled from children’s music. Children’s music is often written so simplistically as to be memorable for life, so referencing those simple melodies is sure to bring an audience back to those early formative moments.

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With overwhelmingly positive results, we’re happy to share a few select testimonials of Soundfly’s Modern Mix Techniques course directly from our students.

When you’ve been in the music industry long enough, you get used to hearing certain terms after a while. And I’m not talking about the kind of timeless terms that have been determined by musicologists, but the ones that have been coined only recently by musicians who felt the need to do so in order to communicate better with each other.

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Give yourself a very clear sense of what you’re hoping to accomplish and discuss it with your engineer(s) ahead of time. For me, that looks like setting some clear “Must-Haves” (e.g. all the bass tracks for the entire album) and then a few “Nice-to-Haves” (e.g. a random track of all of us hollering like banshees). Accomplish the “Must-Haves” first and then allow yourself to go crazy on the “Nice-to-Haves” with whatever time you have left.

As a new songwriter, the many varieties of songform might come naturally to you, or it might be a goal that you’re shooting to improve on. But luckily, while there are a ton of models out there for how songs are made to function, there are no hard and fast rules — which means you’re free to learn what tools you need, and then bend them to suit your songwriting practice.