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Ten Commandments of Songwriting

These are not the…

Ten Commandments of Songwriting

They are, however, rather significant observations made, not by Moses‘ musical director, but
by Dr. Louis Anthony deLise

Many, many very successful songs in popular styles…

  1. Have a melody and lyric that are its principal focus,
  2. Have musical phrases that are balanced,
  3. Have musical phrases that are in even groups of measures—most often in multiples of four,
  4. Have a melody that is borne out of and supported by a harmonic accompaniment (chords),
  5. Have a melody and accompaniment that is tonal,
  6. Have chords that progress in a logical manner—the chord roots progress
    • Along a major or minor scale, or
    • Around the circle of fourths, or
    • Progress in diatonic thirds, or
    • Combine some aspects of all three harmony/chord pattern techniques
  7. Have lyrics that employ vernacular language,
  8. Have a lyric that expresses a single message; all lyrics support that single message,
  9. Have an underlying rhythmic ostinato that is based on some kind of popular dance,
  10. Have melodic, harmonic and rhythmic variety, (There is however a consistency of all three elements that supports the identity of the song.),
  11. Have a succinct and memorable melodic and lyrical hook, and
  12. Can be easily performed without extensive production or arrangement (e.g., piano or guitar and voice).


Learn more about Songwriting…

Order your copy of The Professional Songwriter:
Songwriting, Recording and Making Money with Your Music
by Louis Anthony deLise, D.M.A.