Archives of Songwriting


September 26, 2015:

This lyric is reproduced here because it is so fine and I can’t find a good audio of the song on Youtube, though there are a couple of not-so-good ones, including one by the composer himself. The tune is very nice too, but it’s the remarkable lyric that always grabs me. It was written by […]

The Best Songs Ever

September 24, 2015:

Patience, patience! It takes a moment to load. This list is really in no particular order, it can’t be. Yes, my all-time favourite is Wanderer’s nachtlied, but the others are all just about as good and only reflect my preferences so there’s no ranking. The usual caveats apply; it’s about the songs, not records or […]

Why melody?

September 15, 2015:

I have another essay titled ‘Tune, Melody and Note-row’ where I distinguish between these terms, and in that writing I explain why. I take my ideas mostly from Imogen Holst’s little book Tune (1962), one of those great obscure classics that has slipped entirely from view. But the truth is, most of us don’t distinguish […]

The act of listening

Many years ago – at least 30 – I read a study from the early days of the psychology of music, I’ve forgotten whether it was theoretical or empirical, where an academic identified what happens inside a person’s mind when they listen to a new piece of music. S/he claimed to have found five operations […]

Tune, melody and note-row

A book that has become something of a Bible for me is the small volume Tune, by Imogen Holst (1962). She was the daughter of Gustav Holst, composer of The Planets among other excellent orchestral works, and clearly she knew pretty much all there is to know about music.