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Kenneth Estrada y Santiago is a producing songwriter, musician, and YouTuber, based in Berlin, Germany. In his YouTube channel, SHOEGAZER he reviews effect pedals, teaches guitar chords and interviews weller known bands of the shoegaze scene. He was the frontman of the band Downhill Willows and releases his own albums on Bandcamp.

“Rockstar”: It’s hard to say how many chords this song really has. The way I hear it, it’s a C minor thing in the intro, and then you’re just swimming in a G minor and E♭ fish tank for the rest of the song. So that’s either a modulation from C minor to G minor, or you just start on the iv chord which was quickly dispatched by ninjas — take your pick. Watch how the phrase leading up to the first chorus stretches it to nine bars, rather than your regular eight, and how the outro has an irregular number of bars, too. What’s cool about this is how it obfuscates where the different sections begin or end.

This video is also a true masterclass in how to create a dynamic, visual aesthetic that bolsters a song to full effect with just a single dancer and a no-frills location.

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Let’s use my own childhood as an example. I heard a few too many nursery rhymes from my crib, like “Mary Had a Little Lamb” and “Merrily We Roll Along.” Songs that focus on the 1st, 2nd, and 3rd scale degrees, small intervalic jumps, feel more familiar, more comfortable, and more nostalgic, to me at least.

+ Learn more on Soundfly: Expand your low-end sonic palette by learning the ropes of synth bass setup and performance in our new free course Synth Bass for Bass Players!

Ain’t it the truth, Bey? Perfection is a mean old demon, and every one of us has been guilty of holding onto something far too long as we try to perfect every last bit of it. But perfection is, by its nature, impossible. There is literally no such thing as a perfect artist, a perfect human being, a perfect meal (although my mom’s beef with broccoli is pretty darn close).

The other option is to use a synth. Since the original 808 sound is synth-derived, we can do something similar. We want to have a pretty simple sound — think sine or triangle wave — and a drum-like envelope. If you’re not super familiar with synths, check out our free course series, Demystifying Synths.

4. Amanda Palmer has released a new song dedicated to Puerto Rico: “Small Hands, Small Heart.” All digital sales on Bandcamp this month will go directly to the Hurricane Maria Community Recovery Fund, which supports local grassroots organizations that work directly with low-income communities of color. Read more here, or go straight to Bandcamp to hear and purchase.

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Soundfly welcomes new voices each month to offer unique perspectives, shine a light on unexpected musical worlds, and help our readers find their sound.

Robinson McClellan is a composer, writer, and teacher. His music has been performed, commissioned, and published widely. He has done artist residencies at MacDowell and Yaddo and earned his doctorate in composition from Yale. He works in product development, user care/feeding, and instructional design for music and education companies. He founded and directs ComposerCraft, a workshop for young composers.

If you have been writing songs for some time and find yourself feeling creatively stifled, consider listening to your older songs for inspiration. Map out those songs and identify elements or themes that you can expand upon, improve, or alter. If you are new to songwriting or don’t have music that you previously released, take a trip down memory lane and listen to music that you enjoyed two, five, or even ten years ago. Identify the elements of those songs that you enjoyed and try to incorporate those ideas into your own writing.

All of our mentored online courses come with six weeks of 1-on-1 professional coaching and feedback on your work. It’s like having a personal trainer, but for music! Share your goals with us and we’ll find a course for you, or create a custom mentorship session with a pro musician, engineer, educator, or music industry veteran, to help you achieve them. 

It absolutely could make “lazy” DJs better selectors, however, that is not our focus. We want to help people become better listeners and help them identify and understand the music they actually love, so they can confidently find more of it.