Customer Review

83 of 83 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Superb and practical guide to songwriting, 23 Jun. 2005
This review is from: How to Write Songs on Guitar: A Guitar Playing and Song Writing Course (Paperback)
As a keen songwriter, I have found this book invaluable. This is the sort of book where you can turn to any page and you *will* find something vital to making music. The author never explicitly supports any one way of playing guitar or writing a song. On the contrary, the book teaches "if it works, and you like it, then who can say something is done wrong." If you have the patience to really STUDY and DIGEST this book, it will teach some invaluable lessons.
I especially liked the sections on basic and non-basic chords. Rikky only teaches the chords you'll use, and how to use them. None of those Fm13b5b7 chords that clutter the chord books. This alone is worth the price.
But's there's more!
He provides an exhaustive 'study' of the basic chord progressions (e.g., I VI IV V, I V IV III,) with song titles that use them. Whether your tastes run to Johhny Rotten or Johnny Mathis, you'll find an example here of a popular song using that progression, as well as lots of tips on creating non-standard progressions (if it sounds good and you like it...)
The section on how to go about using inversions and keychanges in the real world is worth the price just for this info. This is the sort of thing that makes the standard progressions sound much more harmonically interesting.
There are also chapters on composing lyrics, structuring songs, finding subjects, avoiding cliches, and making demos.
However, don't expect to find instruction on playing rhythm, or lead, or this style or that style, or scale patterns.... There are plenty of good books dealing with this sort of instruction; this one isn't one of those.
And it doesn't pretend to be one of them. It might touch on some of these areas, but only as it relates to songwriting, specifically songwriting on guitar.
Best of all, he presents a BUNCH of alternate tunings, not just the most widely-used G/A, D/E, and drop D tunings (the most popular). He also provides an abundance of chords for each tuning--very handy!
There are also chapters on composing lyrics, structuring songs, finding subjects, avoiding cliches, making demos.

This book doesn't have any chords or theory that you can't find in other books, like "The Guitar Handbook". But what it does offer is better context relative to songwriting. Some books can overwhelm you with scales, chords, theory etc.It also gives you ideas on how to approach songwriting from different angles to come up with something new.

Finally, he breaks down some of the great songs of the past 50 years and shines a light on what makes them so timeless and evocative. While this is basically a theory book (covering chord types, chord progressions, key changes, etc.), don't let that scare you off. He keeps it as uncomplicated as possible and in all honesty, these are things you really should know if you aspire to write top quality songs. No book can really make you a top songwriter but if your goal is to write quality songs that you can be proud of, whether or not they make you an instant millionaire, this book will teach and inspire you.
I love it, and recommended it to all my guitar buddies.
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Showing 1-2 of 2 posts in this discussion
Initial post: 4 Jul 2008 21:05:45 BDT
Angeln says:
[Customers don't think this post adds to the discussion. Show post anyway. Show all unhelpful posts.]

Posted on 16 Jul 2008 10:53:16 BDT
MaxC says:
Thank you for this review. This is the kind of book review that readers need in order to make a buying decision. It's informative. It tells us what's in the book and, equally importantly, what isn't.

Many reviews just give an opinion, without any backup or justification. You don't do this. That's why your review is so good. Thanks again.
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