Week One – Song Progression

To Begin this process I decided to do some songwriting warm up exercise as I haven’t written in a while, this is something I’ve never looked into before, however I believe it is a good way to write songs quicker and could prevent writers block.

I started by looking into the work of Clay Milis a professional songwriter/producer who’s been working in the industry for a long time and has struggles with writers block in the past, he now runs courses for song writing as he advertises this on his website-  http://claymills.com

Clay Milis (2018) explains ways to help with songwriting, he came up with a few warm ups that I tried out for myself, firstly he explains you are given three minutes and in this time you have to come up with as many phrases as you can, you then do the same again however finding rhymes to fit with the end of the phrases.

Once I done this I found I had a good starting point with my first song, I then came up with some chords and fitted them to my lyrics so far.

This is a recording of my lyrics so far and some improvising-

Once I had a idea of the direction of the song, I could then write it out and add to it.

These were my first and last editions of lyrics-

Screen Shot 2018-05-02 at 16.11.26.pngScreen Shot 2018-05-02 at 16.15.08.png

I then recorded this into logic and added some harmonies. Next I had to come up with a chord progression, I decided to using a technique in guitar playing called Voicing, I love the sound of chord voicing and heard it in the song “Stop This Train” by John Mayer.

I decided to look more into this technique and look into the different variations you have with this.

The dictionary meaning of “Chord Voicing” states In music theory, voicing is “the manner in which one distributes, or spaces, notes and chords among the various instruments” or “simultaneous vertical placement of notes in relation to each other.

R. Vincent (2011) explains in his book “Three-note Voicing” adding notes to create shell voicing this involves adding the root and third notes to a chord, this gives a blues feel. I then tired this, however felt this sound was too complicated for the piece.

Chord voicing can be used in any key however can sound better in a minor key, I found this when experimenting with different chords on my guitar. Piano Groove (2018) explains in a Herbie Hancock piano voicing tutorial the different sounds in different keys and how to expand and enhance the sound of voicing in your work.

After trying out a few different chord progressions I decided to keep the voicing simple as I didn’t want to distract from the emotional meaning of the song.

Here is my outcome –

I then went to my focus group to show them my work, it is important to me to keep my focus group updated with my work and get there feedback, this makes sure that they know the process I’ve been through and the progress I have made throughout the journey.

I found out that not all my focus group were in because of this I decided to get angel and Rebecca, a friend of ours in first year to have a listen to each song and tell me what they thought, I told angel to look at mainly the lyrical content as I feel this is one of her strong points and is one of my weak points.

feedback was as followed-

Points I picked up from this-

  • Lyrically repetitive
  • Guitar sounded stronger in second clip
  • Harmonies work
  • It works well as a piece
  • Could be developed



C. Milis (2018) The 9-Minute Songwriter Workout, Available at: https://songtown.com/9-minute-songwriter-workout-hit-songwriter-clay-mills/(Accessed: 16th April 2018).

C. Milis (2016) Clay Milis, Available at: http://claymills.com (Accessed: 20th April 2018).

JMLoverGurl. (2018). Stop this train. [Online Video]. 9 March 2007. Available from: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=5BTzNX5OMN4&list=RD5BTzNX5OMN4&t=3. [Accessed: 20 April 2018].

Piano Groove (2018) Herbie Hancock Voicing, Available at: https://www.pianogroove.com/jazz-piano-lessons/herbie-hancock-voicing/ (Accessed: 20th April 2018).

R. Vincent (2011) Three-Note Voicing and beyond, 1st edn., UK: Sher Music Co.


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