Santa’s Songwriting Secrets

If the current spate of arctic blizzards have instilled a desire to dabble in some filigree songsmithery, but you are at a loss when it comes to choosing chord progressions, then fear not – help is at hand…

Simple Songwriter App

If you have an iOS device, you can avail of the Simple Songwriter app from Hopefully Useful Software. This is a fairly self-explanatory aid to mobile songwriting, providing key-based grids of compatible chords and modifiers that can be quickly sewn together to form the basis of a (hopefully) musically appealing song.

When you tap a chord, it produced a piano sound of that chord; you can then record a sequence of chords when inspiration strikes, and play it back later. There is a free version and a paid version; the paid version includes more keys, and also a voice recorder function if you have some lyrics to add to your new chord sequence. However, using this option requires headphones, and the quality of the recording from the built-in mic leaves a lot to be desired (I tried it on the iPad – perhaps the iPhone fares better in this regard), but it would suffice in a creative emergency.

More Awesome Chord Suggestions

If this seems too complicated and you just want to create an instant pop hit, you could take the lead provided by the Axis of Awesome, an Australian comedy act who demonstrate that “every chart classic of the past 40 years uses only four chords”.

Perhaps some slight exaggeration at play here, but they do have a point – although most of their examples are actually far more recent than the 40-year timespan introduction would imply… (is this a sign of more pop-by-numbers in recent years, or are they deliberately choosing more contemporary examples for the sake of familiarity?) As the Axis play the medley in E, the chords are E, B, C#m and A – though some of the songs have been transposed from their original key.


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