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Musical Composition, Theory and Songwriting/What if another songwriter asks for your comment?


Happy New Year! May I ask this question?

What if your friend, a fellow songwriter, asks, "Do you like my new song?" It is not a formal critique session. Just a friend asking another casually.

What if you don't really like the song? Is there any professional way to say so without hurting your friend?

My sincere thanks,


Giving constructive feedback to a fellow songwriter is a very important skill, and takes some practice.  As you correctly point out, if you tell them you don't "like" their song, it can hurt their feelings and not give them any useful information.

When someone asks you for your reaction to a their song, your obligation is to give them some useful feedback to help them make it better.  There is no such thing as a song that cannot be improved in some way.

Whether or not you (or anyone) "likes" the song is completely irrelevant as like/dislike has nothing to do with how well the song is written.  The appeal of a song (like/dislike) is subjective and individual, no different than someone liking broccoli and someone else thinking it tastes awful.  Neither is right or wrong, as the taste is a personal experience.    However, the level of craft that the song reflects is not subjective, and is independent of whether you like or don't like the song. (e.g. broccoli is a healthy food, regardless of whether you do or do not 'like' it).    For example,  you may not have a particular liking for country music, but that would not change that fact that a particular country song is or is not well crafted.  Similarly, you may not like the particular subject matter or message of a song, but that is independent of whether or not the song shows craftsmanship.  So the first step in providing useful feedback is looking past whether you personally "like" or don't "like" the song.  

Also, the performance of the song and the arrangement/production of the song hugely influence the degree to which it might appeal to you, but these are also independent of the actual level of songwriting craft (which means specifically, the lyrics and melody).  You may have a poorly crafted song that has a very catchy arrangement and a great vocal performance.  That doesn't make it a good song -- just a great performance and production of a not-so-good song.  We hear lots of those as 'hits' every day.

It helps to know what the songwriter's objective is for the song before you give feedback.  If they only care about whether it will make money, that is different from whether they care about (or even understand) what it means to be a songwriter who is a master of the craft.  And those are both different from whether or not they simply want to be "liked" and admired by friends.

In order to say anything meaningful and tactful, you need understand all the elements of critique and songcraft.   Additionally, it is important to know the right vocabulary of song critiquing.  If you don't have the right words with which to give the feedback you intend, it is difficult to do it effectively.  Objective and specific vocabulary helps to remove and hurt feelings from telling someone that there are things that can stand improvement. and it gives them specific actions that they can take if they wish to make the song more effective.

Go to this page and read the articles on critique:

That will help you learn how to give feedback that is both useful and non-hurtful.

Good luck,  

Musical Composition, Theory and Songwriting

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Bill Pere


Can answer questions on : Technical aspects of lyric and music compostion; How to give and receive objective critique; Arranging and production; Concrete vs abstract imagery; Use of metaphor; Rhyme techniques; Song Structure; Collaboration; Songwriter Associations; Promotion; Guitar technique; Music Business;


Grammy-Award-winning songwriter; President of the Connecticut Songwriters Association and Director of the Connecticut Songwriting Academy; Named one of the Top 50 Innovators and Guiding Lights of the Music Industry in 2008 by Music Connection Magazine; Author of "Songcrafters' Coloring Book:The Essential Guide to Effective and Successful Songwriting." Named Independent Artist of the Year,by the 2003 national Independent Music Conference; 30 years as a professional singer-songwriter; 16 original CD's released;
Have had songs placed on other artists' CD's. Twice named Connecticut Songwriter of the Year.
20 years as Executive Director of the LUNCH Ensemble. Have attended more than 200 presentations by top industry professionals and have critiqued thousands of songs. Have written and produced dozens of stage plays and hundreds of concert events; Have coached hundreds of aspiring songwriters, and collaborated with several award winning writers. Have written commissioned songs as an Official Connecticut State Troubadour. Music Director of youth choirs and music camps.

Connecticut Songwriters Association (President); LUNCH Ensemble (Local United Network to Combat Hunger -- Exec, Director); CMEA (Connecticut Music Educators Association); Folk Alliance; Association For Psychological Type; Songsalive; WE R Indie; Creative Songwriting Academy;

Songcrafters' Coloring Book: The Essential Guide to Effective and Succesful Songwriting Songwriters Market (2001, 2002); Connecticut Songsmith; Contemporary Songwriter Magazine; Songwriters Musepaper;
Songcrafter's Coloring Book;   Strategies for Teaching Guitar;

Masters Degree Molecular Biology; Certified MBTI Practitioner (Myers Briggs Type Indicator); Connecticut Secondary Public School Teaching Certificate; Author: "Songcrafters' Coloring Book: The Essential Guide to Effective and Successful Songwriting"

Awards and Honors
2012 Grammy; Named one of the Top 50 Innovators and Guiding Lights of the Music Industry in 2008 by Music Connection Magazine; Independent Artist of the Year, (2003 national Indie Conference); Official Connecticut State Troubadour, appointed by CT Commission on the Arts, 1995 ; 1982 and 1992 CT Songwriter of the Year; 2000 Award for 20 years of Outstanding Service to Songwriters;
2002 CSA Award for Outstanding Contribution to Education through Music; Numerous awards for outstanding community outreach through music; 1997 Citation from Connecticut Legislature for exemplary dedication to community outreach through music. 1995 Renaissance Award for multiple music achievements in a single year.   Invited Presenter and Mentor at various Music Conventions

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