September 27, 2018

Elements of a Great Song

What is the magic that makes a good song a great song? While there are so many different things that are different across genres and styles of music, there are many elements that transcend genre to make a great song. What ideas, concepts and musical elements can you use to take your songs to the next level?


Melody is one of the most important elements of a great song. Think of how many times you’ve heard a song in another language and gotten it stuck in your head. While you didn’t know what the singer was saying or even what the song was about, the melody was so catchy that you couldn’t help but remember it. A melody has a number of elements, including the pitches and the phrasing, contours and intervals. The right melody can break language and stylistic barriers to find success.


Whenever multiple pitches are combined vertically, typically in a group of 3 notes, it creates harmony. Chords or triads provide harmony for the melody and make a song sound fuller and more attractive. Depending on how creative you are feeling, you can create intricate major or minor harmonies for a unique effect.


A key is created when you take a group of pitches that compliment each other in a song. The pitches to most songs will all be a part of the same scale or key. Major and minor keys are the most common, and sometimes songs will change the key for dramatic effect at pivotal moments like the bridge. Key and scales are also what makes some songs, like Pachelbel’s Canon, have the same chords and progression as thousands of other popular songs. Don’t believe us? All of the songs below have the same chord progression as that famous tune:

  • Basket Case by Green Day
  • Hook by Blues Traveler
  • With or Without You by U2
  • Let It Be by The Beatles
  • No Woman, No Cry by Bob Marley


You’ll notice that we didn’t mention lyrics in this blog, and that’s because the last magic ingredient that transcends everything is emotion. Emotion is what makes you get tears in your eyes during a song, even if there are no words or the words are unclear. If you can harness the emotions that you are feeling and turn them into music, you will undoubtedly create a great song. There’s a reason why so many of the most popular songs of all time are well-loved, and that’s almost always emotion!

Learn More About Writing a Great Song at ECHE Music

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