Songwriting Tips in Unlikely Places

Published May 21, 2020

Today’s tip is a sort of confession, really.

I’ll start by confessing that since I’ve been in much closer quarters to my 8 year old given the closing of schools, I’ve been listening to a lot more of the music that she likes. Ariana Grande, Frozen 2 (curse you, Disney for making a second movie at the very moment we were starting to break free from the chains of your first one), and Justin B–I can’t even speak his name.

And so when a new song came on the “New Music” playlist (let’s face it, it was my wife who even pressed that button) and my immediate response was, “Hey, this is pretty great,” I set down the dish I was washing and listened for a moment.

In this age of content, the first 5-15 seconds of a song are so important.

I wish it weren’t so, but it is. If I hear something that pulls me in and makes me put down my dish (damn!), then you not only have my attention, but you probably have me hitting repeat. Otherwise, I’m on to the next in so many cases.

And what was it about the track that was so compelling? A few things: a subtle vinyl tickle, some pleasing soft synth and rhythm tracks, and a simple forward female vocal in the midrange.

And a polyrhythm.

The combination started firing my synapses before I knew what was happening.

And now the real, true confession part of my email. The song was by Katy Perry, which became very apparent by the time we got to the chorus.

Please don’t think less of me.


At least don’t think less of me until you learn that I’m playing it again right now as I type and I…can’t…turn…it…off…send…for…help…

And I’ll talk about polyrhythms in pop music more in an upcoming post, but for now, I invite you to listen to some of your favorite recorded tracks with an ear toward those first few seconds.

What draws you in?

In your current Top 10 song list are there some exceptions to the rule?


I’m the small town, one in 7 billion,
Gary Grundei

“There is a true magic in matching your emotion to a melody with your own voice.” [share this quote online]



Get 64 Songwriting Tips & Tricks for free

We created these tips just for you! 

Why? Because we know that you have a song just waiting to emerge and we want to help you share it with the world! Free for a limited time.

Picture of Gary Grundei, founder | composer

Gary Grundei, founder | composer

There’s a magic that can happen when you put creativity, growth, authenticity, generosity, and community all together in one virtual environment. golden lotus studio was established as an online community in 2018 to fill a need for composers and songwriters of all walks of life and experience and training and styles to be able to support each other in their creativity and growth.

Connect with us:

Friday Afternoon Songwriting Club (FASC)

A dynamic community designed to help you write better songs today.
64 tips main

64 songwriting tips AND TRICKS

We created these tips just for you! Why? Because we know that you have a song just waiting to emerge and we want to help you share it with the world! Free for a limited time.