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Stealing songwriting techniques from Cole Porter’s Anything Goes

I briefly mentioned this song in a recent post. This isn’t the best performance of it, but it will do for our purposes (here’s another recording).

There are some songwriting ideas worth pointing out (and stealing).

1. The lyrics

In olden days, a glimpse of stocking
was looked on as something shocking,
now heaven knows
Anything goes.

Do I really need to say anything about these, other than to mention that they’re brilliant?

2. The choice of scale

That verse melody only uses a Major pentatonic scale. That, combined with a three note pattern over a 4/4 time signature, followed by a high-note climax and you’ve got a killer eight bar melody

3. The Structure.

Notable structural elements include an extended introduction and the use of what was a standard form in the ‘Great American Songbook’: the AABA, or 32 bar song structure.

What is that? Simple: take an 8 bar melody, like the one that fits the lyrics above, repeat it with different words ala Strophic form, then throw in a middle 8 bars that contrast in some way, before finally repeating the first 8 bar melody.

None of them are new ideas, and Cole Porter didn’t invent them (though he did use them particularly well), so why not see if you can use them too?

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