Songwriting and listening reference materials

Here’s a collection of the most useful songwriting and analytical listening resources from around the web. See also the PWYM video collection.

Listening for song forms and structures

Check out the video series on analyzing “Sledgehammer” by Peter Gabriel.

Ethan Hein’s posts on song structure and production:

Brad Swanson considers different methods for labeling song sections.

The Wikipedia article on song structure in popular music is a good one. Their vast collection of song forms is useful too.

Jeremy Steinkoler explains commonly-used song forms.

The Infinite Jukebox, powered by the folks over at The EchoNest, is a really fun interactive way to explore the structure of any song through visualization of its repeated elements. Learn from legendary music hacker and programmer Paul Lamere about why and how he created Infinite Jukebox and how you can “tune” Infinite Jukebox to literally play with your music.

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Peter Gabriel resources


The South Bank Show did a long documentary on the making of Security, giving fascinating insight into PG’s process. The documentary is interesting for PG fans, of course, but it has broader significance too. Many of the practices that PG was exploring, like building songs out of samples and studio improvisation, were cutting edge or even avant-garde at the time. Now they have become the baseline standard for pop and dance music production and songwriting methods. Read an in-depth analysis of the video here.

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Recording and production reference materials

Here’s a collection of the most useful audio production resources from around the web. See also the PWYM video collection.

Vocabulary and reference

Rane pro audio reference

iZotope’s mixing guide is super useful for anyone who mixes, not just iZotope users.

The ins and outs of speaker frequency response and a test video.

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